Much excitement, of a kind, this morning over the news that Tory HQ is gearing up for an early general election campaign. Politico had the scoop in its morning email that Alex Wild has been appointed as Communications Director of Conservative Campaign Headquarters (CCHQ).
Wild is a former special adviser to Priti Patel and Robert Buckland. According to Politico, the move has been in the works for some time. There was talk of his strong contacts book (ooh) and tenacious reputation being the precursor to an early poll.
A well-placed Tory veteran is highly sceptical: “Give over.” Wild is not, he says, a mastermind. His appointment is not indicative of some great Machiavellian masterplan on a par with Gordon Brown bringing Mandelson back to cabinet after the financial crisis: “It’s Alex Wild.”
It is true that in other respects the Tories have been beefing up CCHQ for some time now. It’s what parties do.
Ross Kempsell, the ex-LBC hack who conducted the now infamous “I make models of buses” interview with Johnson in 2019, joined as a political director a few months ago. He is a good friend of the most powerful person in Downing Street, and also gets along well with her husband Boris Johnson.
The latest appointment by party chairman Oliver Dowden also has a more mundane explanation. Yes, he was specifically promoted to party co-Chairman to ensure the “Conservative Party machine is ready to go for an election whenever it comes”. But his hiring of PR person Lucy Noakes from Digital, Culture, Media and Sport is, say CCHQ sources, not about an early poll. Dowden has been moved from the media frontline where he was used to lots of visibility on the airwaves. He needs to maintain his profile.
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