Word reaches me that two of the main players in the CCHQ political team – Oliver Dowden and Richard Hardyment – are leaving to take up job offers. Dowden has been central to keeping Labour and the LibDems on the backfoot and briefing Shadow Ministers. The Observer pinpointed Hardyment as being behind the Labour donorgate scandal. Even if it’s not correct that Dowden’s team pinpointed the latest bout of sleaze, this is a real blow for CCHQ – especially at a time when good people should be joining the operation, not leaving it. Two observations:
- After the departure of these two and others at the top of the machine, steps must be made to ensure that CCHQ does not lose more of those who know how the machine works and have fought previous elections. Of course you don’t want people who are always trying to re-fight the last war: but you do need people who have some institutional memory, and can say “Do it this way – that way didn’t work last time”.
- More long term, something needs to be done to ensure that good people don’t leave. Someone needs to create a proper career structure, so graduates like Hardyment can see where they might be if they stayed for more than just a year or so.