Political

Andy Coulson, Grant Shapps and George Bridges

There’s an interesting write-up in this week’s New Statesman of the goings-on in the last few days in the Cameron bunker, including Andy Coulson’s initial impact.

People with an interest in by-elections though might be taken by this part of the piece:

It has not been a good month for the ferret-like campaign manager, Grant Shapps, who is still facing a barrage of abuse from fellow MPs and party workers. Says a shadow minister: “Shapps is immensely pleased with himself for very little reason, overpromoted and inexperienced.” Another fan adds: “He overegged our chances by claiming huge successes at the beginning. It was political suicide.”

Shapps also appears to have upset the team around him. One member of the Ealing by-election ground team says: “Something as simple as placing a news story was beyond him. He took a very London-centric story that was perfect for the Evening Standard and insisted it was given to the Times. The resulting coverage was a pitiful few lines.”

“Ferret-like” seems a mite unfair to me. He seemed pretty human when we had a brief chat about YouTube passwords¬†at the Ealing count…

But one thing about the New Statesman piece puzzles me.

It mentions the will he / won’t he go story about George Bridges. He is being forced out? He is unhappy? Or is he just going to quit to spend more time with his new wife (he’s getting married later this year)?

However, it misses out on the depth of the feud between George Bridges and Lord Ashcroft. Ashcroft’s influence in the Tories is back on the up, and he had some very abrasive things to say about Bridges in his memoirs, such as (p.85):

The Cranborne-Bridges alliance very quickly appreciated that The Times could be a useful vehicle for their personal venom against William [Hague] and me.

Although Ashcroft latter in the book makes up with other people he fell out with (e.g. Michael Grove), Bridges isn’t on that list.

Is the talk of Bridges going and Ashcroft being back on the up really unrelated?

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