This morning’s Telegraph reports that "David Cameron has ordered a shake-up of Conservative headquarters amid rumours that he is unhappy with the performance of Francis Maude". ConservativeHome received similar intelligence from a well-placed source at the end of last week. Fuelling the alleged unhappiness is the suggestion that Mr Cameron was surprised at the failure of the A-list process to produce new standard-bearers for the party.
A recent ConservativeHome survey found that Mr Maude had a net satisfaction rating of just 6% amongst the Tory membership. Team Cameron is said to think that a more popular Party Chairman might find it easier to persuade local Tories of the virtues of A-list candidates. "Friends of Mr Maude," told The Telegraph, that there was no rift "and emphasised that neither he, nor the party leader, had been directly involved in the priority list selection, which was carried out by a separate panel."
The Telegraph reports that the Bromley & Chislehurst Conservative Association may be excused from having to choose from the A-list amid concerns that any Tory candidate will face a fierce challenge from UKIP’s Nigel Farage as well as the Liberal Democrats. UKIP are attempting to rebrand to offer a more Thatcherite policy agenda.
Editor’s note: "ConservativeHome hopes these rumours are untrue. This website does have serious concerns about the A-list but it was the leader himself who instituted the process. Mr Maude had to handle the very difficult Tory loans issue and did so with skill. Francis Maude has done more than any other member of the shadow cabinet to build bridges with Tories on the net. His interview with ToryRadio has gone online today. Central Office is a notoriously difficult animal to master. It would be risky to install a new Chairman just as the current Chairman was getting on top of the task. David Cameron should realise that running a major political party is not just a matter of press releases. Bold leadership needs to be balanced with deliberation. Real change needs to be carefully considered and implemented with sensitivity. If the rumours are true, then Cameron is playing a risky game."