George Eustice is to stop being the Leader’s Press Secretary from the end of the month. He’s going to take a two month sabbatical – to read some books, not newspapers – and will then probably return to a part-time position at CCHQ in the new year. If he does return it will be to coordinate David Cameron’s relations with the conservative family of think tanks, campaigning groups and websites/ blogs. George is, I understand, also hoping to stand for Parliament and cannot do that and continue to handle press for the leader.
I hope George does undertake this coalition role. It was one of the ten ideas proposed by Donal Blaney earlier this month:
"As the conservative movement in Britain grows at an impressive rate, Team Cameron likewise need to ensure that the members of the conservative movement, and in particular its leaders, are kept in the loop and feel they have a channel of communication to the Party leadership. The appointment of someone with a role similar to Tim Goeglein at the White House (who is in charge of White House relations with the conservative coalition) will help ensure the broader conservative movement remains if not wholly on side then at least broadly on side, thereby avoiding future misunderstandings and rows."
On a personal note I’d like to record my own little tribute to George. ConservativeHome hasn’t always been 100% helpful (!) but he’s always been courteous to me and a pleasure to deal with. I travelled down from Blackpool with him after this year’s Conference – the BBC’s Nick Robinson was also with us – and, licence feepayers, party donors, CH mug purchasers, take note – we were all in the second class carriage. I hope he takes up this coalition manager role. His experience at the ‘No campaign’ and his closeness to David Cameron makes him ideal for the job. In my two months as chief aide to IDS, when he was leader, I identified such a role as a priority task. It would be great to see it finally happen…