Coffee House

Candidate fury at CCHQ campaign demands

23 May 2014

Conservative MPs and candidates are, it’s fair to say, pretty exhausted this afternoon after last-minute campaigning for the local and European elections and all-nighters watching the results come in. But with the Newark by-election drawing closer, they’re not flopping into their beds just yet. All candidates have been summoned to a 10am briefing in Newark on Sunday. They were only told on Monday that the meeting was taking place, and that it was compulsory, with Grant Shapps demanding a personal explanation from those who cannot make it.

The email says:

‘There will be a briefing meeting for everyone on the Candidates List on Sunday 25th May at 10.00 am in Newark, which will be followed by delivering.

‘I expect all candidates to attend this important briefing, therefore, please save the date and time – further information will follow later this week. Please email me personally […] if you are *unable* to attend explaining why.’

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This has not gone down very well in some quarters. Remember candidates pour a significant amount of time and resources into campaigning, and not always for seats they have a reasonable chance of winning. They have to leave their paid jobs or take extensive leave from understanding employers in order to fulfil their duties as a candidate. Some might say that this is just the way things are, and if you’re mug enough to want to become an MP, you should jolly well belt up. But the problem is that this then narrows the field of people prepared and able to make these sacrifices to campaign in elections when they do not know whether they will get the seat. It is like spending months interviewing for a job, paying to attend those months of interviews, and not having a clue whether you’ll get the job at all, unless you’re lucky enough to be campaigning in a safe seat.

One candidate tells me:

‘If the briefing is so important, how come [Shapps] only gave us five days’ notice? He is either incompetent or out-of-touch, neither of which is particularly good for a politician. I suspect he is out-of-touch, as the email was sent three days before I went to the polls in my Lib Dem marginal ward which I’ve been working every night for months. The Candidates’ Department keeps asking me about what I’m up to politically, so they should be able to flag that I’m doing my best for the Conservative Party.

‘And why are we using people who should be some of our most articulate campaigners (given that we’re on the candidates’ list) to deliver? I will, of course, go. But it does feel a bit like Downfall, with orders being screamed at us by someone slightly removed from reality.’

Another candidate’s response was ‘Shapps can fuck off’, which suggests either that Shapps is like a fearsome sports coach whose charges hate him right up until the point they win the prize he’s been pushing them towards, or that CCHQ might need to give the people desperate to represent them in Parliament a bit of a breather at some point…

UPDATE, 6pm: Funnily enough, the Tories don’t like this flashing around of a private candidates’ email (which Mark Wallace examined on ConHome here). A Conservative source says:

‘We want candidates who roll up their sleeves and work hard for the party and most do a brilliant job. But if a few people don’t want to work hard, believe me they won’t stay a candidate for long.’

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Show comments
  • Helen

    I’ve been in Newark all weekend, MP’s abound, you can’t move without tripping over a Cabinet minister or two and there are hundreds of candidates out and about and there’s a really good atmosphere. I think those of us on the candidates list should remember that one day, hopefully, we will be expecting people to come out and campaign on our behalf.

    • photon

      @Helen: Candidates are candidates to become MPs. They may be selected by the party machinery, but they are elected (or not) to serve their constituents.
      The date of the Newark by-election has been known for weeks. Any sudden need now for candidates to flood there looks like a
      knee-jerk reaction to UKIP success rather than good planning. “That’s
      why the Prime Minister has made several visits to Newark, each
      Cabinet Minister is going five times, all other Conservative MPs are
      expected to make at least three campaign trips to the seat and now
      candidates have been called in.” The job of the PM and his cabinet
      ministers is to run the country, not to swan off to Newark
      vote-gathering. MPs should be spending the time in their own
      constituencies dealing with the problems there. If the Tory party has
      lost so many activists that it can no longer deliver enough leaflets,
      and needs officers to do the work of foot-soldiers, it has only itself
      to blame. (If there are about 60,000 voters, that is about 30,000
      households. With 100 activists that is fewer than 100 houses a week for a
      month. I’ve done more than that in one evening collecting for the RNLI
      – which obviously means knocking on the doors – and not rows of
      terraced houses either. If I were the Newark candidate I would deliver a
      personal letter myself, inviting constituents to some public question
      and answer meetings near the election date.)
      The next time that you will need “someone else” to come out and help you to campaign will be the 2015 general election, when all the candidates will I trust be very busy in their own constituencies.

      This may get the response that I do not know the difficulties, and I am in political terms just an ordinary voter. I voted Conservative for over 50 years – not because I thought the Tory policies were all better than the Labour ones – some were, some were not. I voted Tory because I judged them more competent to carry them out, and (important) better able to deal with unexpected difficulties. I have now voted UKIP and expect I will again. The EU is too large, cumbersome and varied to be run democratically, so we should leave to govern our own affairs. I have listened to Nigel Farage’s open explanations of UKIP strategy since the 2013 elections. All seems to be going to plan so far. As UKIP membership grows, new members with a wider range of talents will provide sensible polices and dispel the image of a one-man band without policies presented by UKIP’s opponents. I see no such positive outlook for the Conservatives.

  • english_pensioner

    What is Shapps is talking about?
    The meeting “which will be followed by delivering.”
    I prefer meetings followed by coffee, or better still a pint of bitter, but what on earth is a “delivering”?

  • Kaine

    There was a very similar article to this on Labourlist a few days ago, saying how Labour candidates were being asked to do ridiculous amounts of things and how this put people off.

    Seems everyone’s cracking the whip.

  • jhm0jjm

    Oh you poor babies!

  • Tom W Huxley

    If you don’t have inherited wealth then trying to get work in politics seems to be a mug’s game.

    Signed, a mug

  • Peter Stroud

    It is essential for the Tories to ensure the UKIP candidate does not win Newark. Hence the panic.

  • FrankS2

    “All candidates have been summoned to a 10am briefing…”
    How many candidates are they fielding?!!

  • solly gratia

    “It’s been said that the Conservative party does not listen to people, whether it’s own, or the disgruntled who foolishly voted for The Other Party. Right, now shut up, and let me tell you how it is,” said Grant

  • Chingford Man

    Good to see the Tories treat their candidates with the same disdain that they treat their voters. Sorry, I meant to say former voters.

  • Lucy Sky Diamonds

    Grant Shapps is a goofy moron

  • Darnell Jackson

    Well, that last paragraph should soften the blow a bit

  • JoeDM

    Sound like the sort of thing a poor and inexperienced manager does.

    • jhm0jjm

      Rubbish, it sounds like a very low quality pool of candidates

  • ButcombeMan

    Truth is, Shapps is panicking and thinks that leadership is done by bullying.

    He will be removed soon.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      Yes, this is a very bad sign, and the kid is showing his inexperience here.

      • ButcombeMan

        A good manager would have given everybody an encouraging nil desperandum e-mail and the weekend off-encouraging them to think about what has to be done.

        Shapps is a “speak your weight machine” politician. Bland, & uninspiring. There is no passion there, It shows in his eyes.

        Risen without trace. Marginally better than a vacancy.

        Gove would do better.

    • Wessex Man

      no no no please no!

      • ButcombeMan

        You should not fall for the massive spin operation that is slagging off Gove.

        Truth is the left fear Gove more than they fear just about anyone else in the Tories. Hence the spin operation.

        • southerner

          I agreed with much of your previous post but your admiration for Gove I think is misplaced. He is very overrated. Only one thing will significantly improve our schools and the prospects of our children and that is selective education. But grammar schools, like almost anything conservative, is not consistent with the ideology of the socialist Camerloons.

          • Kaine

            The tripartite system was largely the creation of the Attlee government. The objection of many was not against selection per se (even Crossland said streaming was necessary) but against the particular inconsistencies of the model. There should have been greater freedom to switch between schools for late bloomers, there should have been decent resource allocation to the secondary moderns and technical colleges, and initial allocation should not have been based on a single exam, but also a discussion between students, teachers and parents on where a child would most benefit.

            Ideally, you’d have a system where the top stream at a secondary modern was doing the work they’d do at a grammar anyway.

            Of course there are some that objected to selection on ideological grounds, but the main encouragement to scrap the system was it was more expensive than comprehensives.

            • Kennybhoy

              “Ideally, you’d have a system where the top stream at a secondary modern was doing the work they’d do at a grammar anyway.”

              That was how comprehensives worked back in the 70s. I think the rot set in in the 80s…?

        • Wessex Man

          er, hate to tell you this, I was referring to Shapps, I’m a member of Ukip and hope that he stays exactly where he is today, that the slimy Cameron holds on to office until the GE and that the halfwitted Hooky continues to upset and drive people away from this Tory Party that has lost all moral compass!

          • the viceroy’s gin

            Yes, but what if they did wise up and dump Dave and put a conservative in there?

            • Kennybhoy

              Good question!

    • kyalami

      Shapps is a living example of the Peter Principle.

  • Adrian Hilton

    Dear Mr Shapps,
    Thank you for your email requesting that I attend a mandatory meeting on Sunday 25th May at 10.00 am in Newark, which will be followed by delivering. You ask me to write to you personally should I be unable to make this, explaining why. In fact, I will be in church at that time with my family, worshipping God. I know this isn’t as important to you as winning the Newark by-election, but some of us occasionally have other priorities, and, for me, keeping Sunday special is one of them. I’ll quite understand if you and Carlyn Chisholm think this absence constitutes evidence of my lack of commitment to the Party and decide to remove me from the Approved List.
    Yours etc.,

    • HookesLaw

      My heart bleeds for you. Have you ever thought of simply kneeling down at the foot of the bed and saying your prayers as an alternative and perfectly acceptable way to commune with god.
      If this is your pompous attitude to saving the country from the self confessed godless crypto marxist ed miliband then we all will have to say our prayers where best we can… and as often as we can, not just public appearances on sundays.

      • Ricky Strong

        I can’t help but think you kind of missed the point.

        • Kennybhoy

          I hope that is the case but I suspect not…

      • Chingford Man

        Gosh Hooky, you really do make an idiot of yourself.

        • Wessex Man

          He is the Lord’s gift to UKip, so please give him a bit of encouragement from time to time.

        • Kitty MLB

          I suppose Hooky is not allowed an opinion. I disagree with him
          generally and we are from completely different ends of the party. Yet he is entitled to a voice. This is a democracy you know.

          • HookesLaw

            Poor sad Kippers…. we must not upset them. Poor Mr Hilton. Heat Kitchen anybody..
            Not willing to pull a finger out to defeat the godless Miliband. Sad.

      • Kennybhoy

        Jesus wept Hookey! I have upon several occasions stood up for you hereabouts but this grossly impertinent and offensive comment is utterly despicable! If you have a shred of decency you will make an unreserved apology to Adrian Hilton.

        • southerner

          No point standing up for an intolerant socialist like Hook.

          He doesn’t have a shred of decency nor do any of the Camerloons so there is no chance of an apology.

          • HookesLaw

            No chance when you call me a ‘socialist’.. You show what an extreme right winger you are.
            Meantime l shall be voting against… thats against … the godless crypto Marxist Miliband.

            • southerner

              Real classy Hook.

              In any event it’s not me that deserves the apology so when I correctly identify you as a Camerloon socialist that has nothing to do with nothing. You reveal the sort of person you are with every post that you make. Wonder why you get so much support on these threads? Giving yourself an up tick each time you post doesn’t fool anyone.

              And how, exactly, are you going to vote “against” anyone?

      • solly gratia

        Uber-protestants, gotta love ’em.

      • Michele Keighley

        Well! If you are an example of a conservative supporter I am no longer surprised that most of the country much preferred Mr Farage and his party. As we say here in Australia – You sound like a real pompous git!

      • southerner

        I rather suspected you would post a ridiculous contrary post to Mr Hilton. The views he expresses are, after all, in tune with someone of a conservative persuasion – views which are anathema to you and the Camerluvvies as you have demonstrated so often. Deary me.

        Intolerance of Christians. A rascist post on another thread. The mask has well and truly slipped.

        • Kennybhoy

          “A rascist post on another thread.”

          Which thread?

      • Kaine

        I don’t have much truck with organised religion, but even I know the point of being ‘in church’ is not the building, but the community who come to it. He wishes to share in an act of worship with his neighbours, friends and family, who one assumes are the same people he would be representing.

      • english_pensioner

        A bit difficult if one’s beliefs extend to attending Communion.

    • english_pensioner

      Exactly what I was thinking before I reached your comment. Every Sunday at 9:15 I attend our local parish church as one of the bellringers calling people to the 10:00 Service. That takes precedence over virtually everything else.

      • jhm0jjm

        then you shouldnt have ambitions towards standing for office

        • english_pensioner

          I don’t !

          • jhm0jjm

            well thats alright then

            • telemachus

              You can all bet your life that the godless Ukip racists will be pounding the streets this morning without a thought about 1662, series one, series two or even the fact that the fabric of services are being destroyed by committees

              • the viceroy’s gin

                …is this ranting gibberish supposed to mean something, lad?

              • sarah_13

                I mentioned in another response post to you, I was helping in the london mayoral campaign and on the phone a couple of asian gentleman said they were labour supporters and completely from left field said the jews were supporting boris and that the jews were going to make sure he won! What is labour doing about the racists and rampant anti-Semites in its party, those with or without god?!!!!

    • Jonathan Poulton

      Excellent response, Adrian. It’s precisely the kind of hectoring illiberal arrogance from the pseudo-conservatives currently running the Conservative Party that drove me into the arms of UKIP. I invite you to come over from the dark side….

  • you_kid

    There is a CCHQ central diktat in local elections?
    Helmer is a parachuted in candidate ready to ‘represent’ people he has never met?

    I mean, come on now – the FPTP system is a brilliant little undemocratic concoction. It worked so well for sooo long. We would hardly like to see it go, would we, the proper democrats that we all are.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      …you mean, all your sockpuppets vote?

      • ButcombeMan

        They are probably all claiming benefits

        • you_kid

          Matey, you chaps never get tired of this waffle, do you. Small minds … now pay your taxes so my tenants can pay me my landlord benefits on time. That’s how Britain works since Thatcher – did you not know?

          • Wessex Man

            Good grief! I wish your nanny would put you to bed!

  • WatTylersGhost

    “Shapps can f@ck off” that’s what I’ve been telling my local Tory Party for ages.

    • telemachus

      Does not matter what you tell poor Grant
      Cameron’s session in Downing Street has not endeared him to the public
      He is a one time PM
      Ed next

      • Kitty MLB

        A sandwich short of a picnic. Its utterly pointless saying another word.

        • telemachus

          We rely on that

          • Wessex Man

            i hope he doesn’t choke on his bacon sandwich at the party to honour his brother coming home to ‘save’ the Labour Parrty.

            • telemachus

              David bottled it when he had the chance to knife Brown
              He is regarded as spineless
              The Charismatic One however….

      • Sentinel

        If the Scots think it is unlikely Labour will win the GE could that deliver the ‘Yes’ vote? If so, could Cameron survive as leader?

        • Rob Mclaughlin

          It doesn’t matter who may win the GE, because the Inpependence movement is not about party politics, despite what a lot of detractors say – this is one of the reasons the No camp is losing so much ground, they’re too busy with the ad hominems on Salmond to notice that a great many pro-Indy supporters are *not* SNP voters.

        • telemachus

          A very sage point
          All we can hope for now is that Cameron keeps away from both Scotland and the issue before 18 September
          Having said that I am sure better together will prevail and Cameron will fall after losing to Miliband May 7

  • XH558

    The loyalty of Conservative Party members, supporters and candidates is astonishing. Since the advent of Mr Cameron the very best they can hope for is to be ignored or patronised. That best must come as a welcome interlude between bouts of disdain merging into contempt.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      That’s likely a big part of the reason that party is dying.

      • XH558

        I am sure. Sadly, they lost me at Maastricht, but since then it as looked rather like the privatisation of the AA – but with malice. A members’ organisation has become a free-standing business to which one can choose to subscribe or not. The name may be the same but the model is entirely different. Cameron + coterie and Miliband + coterie would feel equally at home in either organisation (it is really just a matter of choice of employer), but nobody who was once a devoted member of either party would recognise the environment. A pox on them.

    • Simon

      I totally agree. Precisely why I resigned from the Party. Cameron and the Cameroons have no interest in Party members. If they ever want insight into what direction they should be taking the party they put together a focus group, rather than discussing it with the membership…

  • Adrian Hilton

    I’m not surprised – the Candidates’ Department has it has been run by Carlyn Chisholm is aloof, autocratic and utterly indifferent. As Jacob Rees-Mogg pointed out a few years ago: “Traditionally the Candidates’ department was well run by an experienced MP and senior members of the voluntary party. It is now run by arrogant, discourteous apparatchiks.” This latest demand is indicative of just how out-of-touch CCHQ is: if you want to be a candidate, you have to be self-employed, wealthy or hold a job which permits loads of time off at very short notice. Ordinary people in ordinary jobs just can’t do this, and so the Approved List becomes dominated by a certain social stratum of society. Those on the List are nothing but slave labour, each paying c£100 a year for the honour. I know quite a few Conservative MPs who are dissatisfied by the CCHQ operation and the general contempt those running it have for hard-working party members who hope to be selected. It’s even worse for male candidates, since, even with a high-calibre List, the CCHQ focus is still on identifying and promoting women >

    • rtj1211

      it sounds like you need not to work on Sundays, either have a car capable of doing a return-trip to Newark or a lift from someone who does and a lack of prior engagements either at home, in your target constituency or at church, the tennis club or the golf club.

      I don’t think you’ll get many working class, salt-of-the-earth types whose family budget is sufficiently tight that £40 for a day trip to Newark is an unaffordable expense.

      But to be honest, how many of those do the Tories want or expect to get?!

      • Kaine

        Out of interest I plugged in the numbers for a marginal seat, James Wharton’s Stockton. Not only would the return trip cost you £60, but it’s not actually possible to get from the North East to Newark for 10am unless you leave the night before.

    • MirthaTidville

      Farage said this morning that the Tories don`t like him or UKIP because “They think we are part of the lower order“…which is precisely what the Cameroons think of us all..still as the Viceroy says Dave`s head will be on a stick soon enough

      • Kitty MLB

        Well obviously as Farage wishes to take Labour votes. He is going to
        try and create his own little class war. And what did he say about London.. Oh yes.. cultured ,metropolitan and not the same as the rest of the country. And of course they are multicultural. So what is he saying
        about the rest of us. Are we all uneducated yokels. That can be easily manipulated. I am fond of Nigel Farage who is a good egg . But please tell.

    • HookesLaw

      Come off it Mr Hilton, you have an axe to grind. You are on record as saying the EU is in effect a catholic plot. No wonder the bigots of ukip give you so many likes. Michael Howard deslected you in 2005. So your whines really cut no ice. You have ‘anti’ form.
      You prefer a godless crypto marxist would you?

      • Kennybhoy

        I am a devout Catholic and, as youshould be well aware, certainly no’ a UKipper…?

    • John Smith

      Sounds like another branch of the metropolitan elite so hated by the 50 million people outside London

  • RavenRandom

    Seems a not very important story in light of what’s going on today.
    How big is the fight in the Labour party going to be? Will Miliband be challenged?
    Will the prospect of Con-UKIP councils in Essex and elsewhere change the view about working together?
    How many votes are protest votes against Lib Dems and Cons and how many can they expect to switch back to them?
    Should we expect another Con-Lib coalition or will the Tories rule as a minority?
    and so on…

    • Kennybhoy

      “Seems a not very important story in light of what’s going on today.”

      Nope. Sometimes, often even, ostensibly small matters can be very revealing. As tvg wrote above, this is a very bad sign…

    • Wessex Man

      No we are never going to come to an ‘arrangement’ with this lot of heirs to Edward Heath, when Moggy approached our local branch for an ‘alliance’ he was rejected by 97.5% of members. That’s the thing about us, each member is treated like a human being!

    • HookesLaw

      We must allow the kippers their 2 minute hate

  • chrishughesuk

    Maybe he wants to sell all the old dears some *rare* books.

  • CharlietheChump


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