Diary: Tory hopefuls

Fleishman-Hillard's Sheila Gunn tells us of the trudge in Slough: 'Quite early on I realised the ten-word messages we'd been given weren't stimulating our core voters so I switched to a negative anti-Blair line.' Restoration of faith in human nature came at the Slough count where Respect candidate Ajaz Khan narrowly lost his deposit, prompting rivals who had built up camaraderie to call for a recount to find the extra votes. Sadly, Mr Khan's deposit remained elusive.

Ogilvy Healthworld Europe president Margot James came third in Labour-held Holborn & St Pancras.

James tells PRWeek: 'We increased the Tory vote (on 2001) by a better margin than in most comparable Labour-held seats in London. But we had really hoped to come second.

'I enjoyed standing for the first time but I hope to find a seat next time that is winnable. It's a winnable seat or no seat next time.'

British Venture Capital Association comms head Mark Fox, meanwhile, narrowly missed out on grabbing Great Yarmouth for the Conservatives.

He tells us: 'We fought an effective and energetic campaign, had a lot of fun in the process and it was sad not to win.'

When asked what PR tactics he could have deployed, Fox says: 'The electorate is very savvy to stunts, wheezes and wangles.' Although Lewis PR's Clive Booth was also defeated in the City of York, there was some bright news for the Tories, with Consolidated Communications director Ed Vaizey romping home in true-blue Wantage.

Vaizey - described by last weekend's Observer as 'articulate, well connected and telegenic' but 'too smooth for some' - says: 'Having worked in PA has been unbelievably useful for me.' He explains: 'You know the right levers to pull and who to go to in the big companies to get a quick solution to problems in the constituency.'

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