Tory conference cock-up would not have happened under Cameron, aide suggests

Written by David Singleton on 5 October 2017 in Diary

The former PM's team were 'always acutely aware' of the risk of the leader losing his voice at conference.

As the Conservatives look around for people other than Theresa May to blame for the prime minister’s disastrous speech, many are plumping for Tory chairman Patrick McLoughlin.

One furious backbencher told the Evening Standard: "Patrick is a Filofax chairman. We need a Facebook chairman. He should have resigned the day after the disastrous election night. He should now be sacked."

McLoughlin’s enemies say he should have done more to prevent the security breach which saw a prankster getting close enough to May to hand over a P45.  Immigration minister Brandon Lewis is said to be being lined up as a replacement for McLoughlin, who Tory members lost patience with many weeks ago.

Others believe that members of the prime minister's inner circle, including her chief of staff Gavin Barwell and communications chief Robbie Gibb, are the real culprits.

According to this theory, it was the spluttering and croaking that did it for May – and her staff should have seen it coming.

As Tony Blair's former communications chief Alastair Campbell tweeted: "There will be a lot of sympathy re her cough but it is also shocking preparation. Doctors can sort for an hour!"

Sky News chief political correspondent Jon Craig takes a similar view in his latest column for Total Politics. He writes: "It was obvious during Theresa May's TV interview with Andrew Marr on Sunday that she was suffering from a cold and bad cough. No doubt she insisted on fulfilling her commitment to do 28 broadcast interviews and speak at 19 receptions during the conference. But someone in her inner circle should have overruled her and told her to rest her voice for the big day."

Meanwhile David Cameron’s former press secretary Giles Kenningham suggests his old team would have been all over it. He says: "We were always acutely aware of the risk of Cameron losing his voice at conference. The number of speeches and interviews the PM has to give during the four days always puts an immeasurable strain on their voice.

"We always used to try and limit the number of reception speeches Cameron did the night before the big day."

Writing in the POLITICO London Playbook memo, he politely advises: "No.10 may want to rethink her schedule."





Picture by: Stefan Rousseau/PA Archive/PA Images


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