Inside the Cameron vote machine

They work together, eat together and holiday together – and they expect to run Britain, reports Michael Savage

It is a cast of advisers, tacticians, policy wonks and spin doctors that would not look out of place walking the corridors of President Bartlet's White House in the television drama series The West Wing. These members of the tight-knit group that make up Team Cameron must, for now, satisfy themselves with plotting for power in a building on the outskirts of the parliamentary estate.

But the slick operation has performed so well that insiders say the Tory high command is investigating how to retain the layout of its campaign headquarters should the Tory leader win the election. The creation of a Downing St HQ would mean that George Osborne, the shadow Chancellor, would break from tradition and be freed from the confines of the Treasury in order to retain his influence over the party, which he currently wields from his office two doors down from his leader, in parliament's Norman Shaw South building.

A breakdown of the complex network of movers and shakers behind Cameron's bid to become the next prime minister has been laid bare by a forensic examination of the Conservative's top team carried out by Conservative Intelligence, headed by Tim Montgomerie, the influential editor of the Tory grassroots website ConservativeHome. "They don't just work together. They eat together and holiday together," Mr Montgomerie said. "This is a huge operation. Cameron is surrounded by people he has known for years, which inspires loyalty and friendship over necessarily hiring the very best people. It is a close-knit circle."

Mr Osborne's researchers share an office with the head of strategy, Steve Hilton, who has returned to the fray after a year in the United States, where he continued to consult with Mr Cameron from his home in Santa Clara County, California.

Mr Hilton's influence over the party's rebranding is huge. He spends much of his time planning policies with the party's manifesto writer, Oliver Letwin, who occupies an office three doors down from Mr Cameron. Mr Osborne is also involved in forming policy. "Osborne is very interested in the politics," Mr Montgomerie said. "Staff are so integrated and seamless that they want to carry that on in office."

The Tory leader remains studiously tight-lipped about any talk of "preparing for power", wary of accusations of complacency. "The two offices [of Mr Cameron and Mr Osborne] do work very closely together at the moment," a spokeswoman said, "but in terms of Downing St, we have to get there first."

Mr Cameron remains less confident of victory than many suppose. "David does not take anything for granted," said a shadow cabinet colleague. "He is always telling us that it is not simply enough for voters to reject Labour. He wants them to make a positive vote for the Conservative Party. When he says he wants a mandate, he means it."

Mr Osborne's involvement at the heart of the party's strategic planning has meant that Philip Hammond, the shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, has been handed much of the number crunching, searching for areas in which money can be saved and the inevitable spending cuts will have to come.

The breakdown of Mr Cameron's team shows the importance of loyalty to the Tory leader, with old friends occupying a number of key posts. Andrew Feldman, the Conservative Party's chief executive, met Mr Cameron at Oxford – they both attended Brasenose College. Ed Llewellyn, his chief of staff, worked with him at the Conservative Research Department, as did Kate Fall, his deputy chief of staff. The pair now act as gatekeepers to Mr Cameron, though his visitors no longer have to pass them in order to reach his large, corner office. As part of the fluid nature of the team, they have moved from the room adjoining that of Mr Cameron, used by their predecessors under the leadership of Michael Howard, and now share an office with Mr Hilton and Mr Osborne's advisers.

The Conservatives' director of communications, Andy Coulson, who is also down the hall from Mr Cameron, is the other pivotal figure. It is Mr Coulson who runs through the key lines of the day at an 8.45am meeting with his media team. That is followed by a briefing half an hour later with Mr Cameron, Mr Osborne and a group of their political lieutenants. It comprises of the party chairman, Eric Pickles, the chief whip Patrick McLoughlin, the shadow Foreign secretary and deputy leader, William Hague, the shadow Business secretary, Ken Clarke, and the shadow Home secretary, Chris Grayling. All key staff members reconvene for a decision-making meeting at 4pm.

In terms of keeping the parliamentary party in line, the departure of Mr Cameron's consigliere Andrew MacKay, who resigned amid controversy over his expense claims, was a blow. But Mr Pickles, the ample figure with the undying love of the party's grassroots, has cemented his influence. The odd disastrous television appearance aside (he was booed by the audience of the BBC's Question Time after revealing details of his second home), he has impressed since the reshuffle.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
REX/Eye Candy
science
News
A photo of Charles Belk being detained by police on Friday 22 August
news
News
i100
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates after scoring his first goal for Arsenal in the Champions League qualifier against Besiktas
sportChilean's first goal for the club secures place in draw for Champions League group stages
Arts and Entertainment
Amis: 'The racial situation in the US is as bad as it’s been since the Civil War'
booksAuthor says he might come back across Atlantic after all
Extras
indybest
Life and Style
Google Doodle celebrates the 200th birthday of Irish writer Sheridan Le Fanu
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
News
i100
News
In Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Jim Carrey and Kate Winslett medically erase each other from their memories
scienceTechnique successfully used to ‘reverse’ bad memories in rodents could be used on trauma victims
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Pixie Lott will take part in Strictly Come Dancing 2014, the BBC has confirmed
tv
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

C# Developer (C#, ASP.NET Developer, SQL, MVC, WPF, Real-Time F

£40000 - £48000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C# Devel...

C# Swift Payment Developer (C#, ASP.NET, .NET, MVC, Authorize.N

£45000 - £60000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C# Swift...

Front-End Developer (JavaScript, HTML5, CSS3, C#, GUI)

£55000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Front-End Deve...

Graduate C# Developer (.NET, WPF, SQL, Agile, C++) - London

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Graduate C# De...

Day In a Page

Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?