ANOTHER VIEW; Tories need a propagandist

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My reasons for resigning as director of communications at Conservative Central Office are quite complex - an accumulation of things. When I was appointed, the arrangement at Central Office was very different from now - there were very different sorts of people. I had worked as a PR man in Scotland Yard and Whitehall and in industry, and I was being asked to apply those skills to a different theme - politics.

Of course, it is not as simple and straightforward as that. I have reached the age of 50 without any active involvement in politics, and there must be a message there. As time has gone on, and as the regime at Central Office has changed - and has, quite properly, become more geared towards campaigning and electioneering - I have been less a director of communications and more a political propagandist. If you are regarded as the principal spokesman for Tory politicians, you have to think like them, speak like them and act like them.

And it became increasingly apparent that that was not for me. The difficulty I have with hard-edged party political propaganda is that one is required to say that everything the Labour Party does and says, and all the Labour Party personalities, are by definition wrong and misguided. And on the other hand, everything that the Conservatives do and say must be correct and well thought out.

Now this, although it makes for a very straightforward party political knockabout style, does not often allow for a serious debate on the pros and cons of the issues. Although I accept that in any organisation you work for you are going to take their position and take their lines, you are usually able to weigh up the merits and demerits of an issue, and not just blindly criticise those who oppose, and blindly promote all that your organisation believes in.

This in no way implies that I have any quarrel with the policies of the Tory Party. I would just like to engage in a more measured political discussion. As matters stand, the drawing of boundaries between political groups dilutes serious debate on issues.

People have said my resignation compounds the problems of the Tory Party at a particularly difficult time. Frankly, I am not important enough for this to be a great blow to the Conservatives. In fact, from that point of view, it was much better to go now instead of getting into real difficulty later on and doing my job badly or - worse - having to resign nearer the election. The Tory Party needs a political propagandist, and I was not what they needed.

The writer was, until Wednesday, director of communications at Conservative Central Office.

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