Amid rumblings about the government machine, the rumour reaches FT Westminster that Downing Street approached Tim Montgomerie – editor of the ConservativeHome blog – to join the ship. But he said no.
Montgomerie, a former aide to Iain Duncan Smith, is an influential figure in the party who understands its internal mechanics as well as anyone. He has also become rather critical of the Tory hierarchy in recent months; making it obvious why the government might want him inside the tent, facing outwards.
The rumour suggested that he would have played an informal role liasing between Tory MPs and Downing Street. The external relations post would echo the link role played by Oliver Dowden between Cameron’s office and CCHQ.
Unfortunately the details are sketchy as Montgomerie is refusing to comment and the Downing St spinners insist the story isn’t true. Yet one well-informed source says we are not far off the truth: “The discussions were not quite the form that you have heard,” he said. But they did take place, possibly just before Christmas.
Meanwhile the hirsute Montgomerie is continuing to play the “critical friend” to the government, with an emphasis on the first word. To quote his recent editorial in the Guardian:
The current Tory leadership seems to be playing the electoral equivalent of Go for Broke, the board game where you race to lose a million pounds and the winner is the one who becomes penniless first.