County council leader Barry Dare has revealed the secret of the Tory party’s dramatic victory in May’s Gloucestershire county council elections – the appointment of a political advisor brought in under a flagship Labour policy. Cllr. Dare was addressing a Conservative Political Officers’ Network fringe event at the Conservative Party conference in Blackpool on how to win elections.

While Labour delegates at the party conference in Brighton a week earlier were keen to hear from Gloucester MP Parmjit Dhanda on his victory in the General Election, the Tory capture of Shire Hall on the same night has become a case study for the Conservatives.

Cllr. Dare told the meeting that while Gloucestershire appeared to be archetypal Tory territory, the party had been struggling until recently.

But the appointment of political adviser Richard Coates was to prove the turning point, according to Cllr. Dare, even though the Tories initially opposed the policy.

He had became a councillor in 1993, which he said was the “low point” for the party, with just 10 Tory councillors.

The party began to recover in 1997 and became the largest party in 2001 but had no overall control.

“In 2002 things changed. I was elected to the leadership which had an influence on the way forward,” he said. “But much more important than that, we had a long-ranging debate about the appointment of political assistants.

“We voted against the appointment of political assistants.

“We lost that vote and although we were critical we agreed to support it thereafter because we would not allow ourselves to be disadvantaged.”

Cllr. Dare told the meeting the Tories appointed a “star” in the form of Mr Coates.

“He has had a massive influence on the way forward between 2002 and our election win on May 5,” he said.


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