The Telegraph’s Jonathan Isaby broke the story of the longlist for Hampshire East two days ago and in this morning’s Telegraph he (with Christopher Hope) has an exclusive on the sale of the old Conservative Central Office – at 32 Smith Square.
The sale for £30.5m (an estimated £15m profit) will almost bring the party back into the black. The party is currently about £35m in the red.
Although Fraser Nelson’s recent story about the Tory fundraising operation probably overstated the recovery in the party’s bank balance, the Conservative election machine is in much better financial health than the trades union-dependent Labour Party.
What memories do ConservativeHome readers have of 32 Smith Square? I remember Theresa May’s office decorated with photographs of shoes. ‘Borrowing’ a bottle of red wine from William Hague’s kitchen for a Holy Communion service that was held in the press conference room (the bottle was replaced!). I remember smuggling in still-secret copies of the 2001 manifesto through a backdoor whilst the press gathered at the front. Then there was the 2001 General Election campaign when the toilets overflowed and horrible smells plagued the office for 48 hours. It was disgusting. Most of all I remember the night when Iain Duncan Smith lost the Tory leadership. As his then political secretary I waited for the result upstairs with him and Betsy in his office and then sat with them both in the car as they drove through an extraordinary number of photographers. I’ll miss you Smith Square!