Tory Conference: Sam, friendly face of the party, gets the sack

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The Independent Online
The Tories called for 'compassion' at the seaside. But Colin Brown discovers that at home it is sacking its own office staff .

Sam Anderson was answering the telephones in the press office at Conservative Central Office yesterday, minding the shop while the staff were in Blackpool for the party's annual conference.

Mr Anderson, 50, will be out of a job by the end of the month. He is one of more than 50 party workers who are being made redundant or given early retirement to cut costs at the party's headquarters in Smith Square and regional offices.

As a messenger who carried press releases to the Commons, Mr Anderson is angry about being made redundant from his pounds 15,000-a-year job after 12 years with the Tory party. "I was always invited to Christmas cocktails when Maggie was in office. I presented her with a blue carnation when she won the election in 1983. I feel very sad about being made redundant," he said.

The clear-out of staff has been carried out by Lord Parkinson, the party chairman, and his deputy, Archie Norman, the Asda supermarket boss, to shake-up the party machine. Lord Parkinson told staff last week that the party headquarters cost pounds 10.5m a year and would go bankrupt if it continued spending at that rate.

Some of those who are going are baffled by the cuts, which include two officials who acted as the link to ethnic groups, Conservative trade unionists and Tory graduates. One insider said: "William Hague has devoted part of his agenda to developing the voluntary wing, and reaching out to young people, and ethnic groups, and yet they make these cuts. It doesn't make sense."

There are about 40 redundancies and early retirements in the regions, with a further 20 jobs cut in Central Office, including research staff and press officers who were in the front line at the election, and were on duty this week in Blackpool at the party conference.