By Tim Montgomerie
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Kevin Maguire is set to join the Number 10 Downing Street press operation in one of the most sensational moves of Cameron's time as Tory leader. The Mirror journalist and constant critic of the Conservatives will join Team Cameron after the Prime Minister's most difficult week since forming his Coalition government.
The Tories have lacked a tabloid touch since Andy Coulson was forced to resign. The PM rejected appointing a Sun journalist to his team for fear of reigniting suspicions that he's too close to Rupert Murdoch and his newspapers.
George Osborne made the surprise approach to Mr Maguire in the belief that he has the skills to help the Conservative Party reach the northern and working class voters who will decide the next election. Steve Hilton, the Prime Minister's outgoing guru, argued that it would be helpful to have a left-wing journalist inside Downing Street – able to anticipate Ed Miliband's lines of attack. Mr Maguire has told friends that he won't become a Conservative but says it's hard, as a patriot, to refuse a request to serve a sitting Prime Minister. The keen sportsfan also relishes the opportunity to accompany the PM to Olympics events throughout the summer. He won't be the first Labour person to advise the Coalition. Ex-Labour ministers Alan Milburn and John Hutton have done so.
Tory MP Peter Bone has reacted furiously to the news. He said that Mrs Bone has threatened to tear up her Tory membership card if a Mirror journalist becomes an aide to David Cameron. The views of Mr Bone Jnr are currently unknown.
Maguire's appointment is just one of a number of crisis responses from Number 10 to the events that began with the granny and pasty tax controversies. The secret project, codenamed 'Kaleidoscoping the Conservative Party', will also include:
- Sayeeda Warsi becoming Tory Chairman for the North of England and moving her office to second floor premises above a fish'n'chip shop in Leeds. Every week she will hold walkabouts in factories, working men's clubs, mosques and pie shops as she devises a more blue collar friendly conservatism.
- Louise Mensch will take over the other half of Warsi's current role and become Tory Chairman for the South. Mensch will be responsible for reaching out to Tatler, Grazia, Hello! and other similar lifestyle magazines. Although Cameron is convinced the Conservatives needs to be more "Mirror-ish" in the north he has reassured his wife Samantha that he'll be more "Menschy" in the south.
- The PM has rejected demands for a wholesale policy review and has instead called for a series of photo opportunities to demonstrate that 'we are all in this together'. Tomorrow we'll see him shopping in a branch of the Co-op in Oxfordshire. He will be seen buying Tetley tea bags rather than loose leaf Earl Grey. On Tuesday we'll see Cameron go to a petrol station and fill up his government car to the new suggested level of two-thirds capacity. Francis Maude and Eric Pickles will both sit in the back of the car to prove the party's wine bar and pub wings are united. Security advisors warned against the move but the PM banged the Downing Street table and insisted he must be seen to suffer with the people. The petrol forecourt visit – which will be followed by a trip to a windfarm to illustrate the Government's commitment to wean the country off foreign oil – will kick off the party's April Fuel fightback.