Obituary: Russell Pipe

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Russell Bernard Pipe, public relations officer: born 21 October 1943; Director of Presentation, Conservative Central Office 1991-93, Deputy Director, Communications (Conference and Presentation) 1993; married (two daughters); died Cobham, Surrey 6 April 1993.

OVER the last few years Conservative Central Office has presented an image less of the well-oiled machine it has been supposed to be and, rather, a somewhat fraught organisation subject to rifts, and fears. This is understandable, for the long-term necessity for cost-cutting, and the consequent redundancies, created a certain atmosphere of trepidation, and inevitably a good deal of suspicion and intrigue.

Into this difficult climate there sailed, in June 1991, Russell Pipe. He was appointed Director of Presentation. He was the most sympathetic of figures, always ready to listen, ever courteous in discussions. He knew all about the pains of redundancy, having, after 11 years' service as Director of External Operations, been axed by ITN. He served the Labour Party for two weeks, and then was head-hunted by Central Office.

His - albeit brief - Labour background caused Tory eyebrows to be raised. But, from the moment of his appointment, his affability endeared him to his colleagues. He had an advantage: in contrast to other departments at Central Office, his expanded. An important thing to note about him is that he was essentially a professional communicator. His sympathies, certainly, were with the Tories, but he had an objective approach to his work. He saw it as putting forward the best case that could be made for a client. This enabled him to rise readily above any difficulties at Smith Square. And to concentrate his mind on what he was so good at - the organisation of conferences, the selection of sites for speeches, especially for the Leader of the Party, the preparation of electoral billboards.

If all this sounds somewhat soulless that word cannot be applied to Pipe. His wife, Yvonne (commonly called Molly), is much involved with the Romanian Orphanage Fund, and he gave her his unstinting support.