Tories hire Tim Collins for deputy comms role ahead of 2015 election

The Conservative Party has brought in Tim Collins as deputy director of comms as battle lines are drawn ahead of the next general election.

Key hire: Tim Collins will oversee the Tories' regional strategy
Key hire: Tim Collins will oversee the Tories' regional strategy

Confirmation that the ex-chief of staff to former housing minister Grant Shapps has been hired came shortly after Labour launched its own hunt for a senior comms figure.

PRWeek understands that Collins, who joins having spent two years as deputy director of comms at the Home Builders Federation, is seen by the Tories as a key hire before the 2015 campaign.

Among his roles will be overseeing regional strategy, with the party looking to boost its regional team of just two with an additional press officer for the South West.

A Tory source said the combination of private sector and political sector experience was key to the appeal of Collins, who steps in following Gareth Parry-Jones' departure to the British Medical Association in May.

'This is all part of getting on to an electoral footing, sharpening up what we do and being more proactive,' the source added.

Labour's hunt for the newly created role of deputy director of comms, meanwhile, has been described as 'strengthening the centre' of the party's campaign machine.

It comes shortly after the party's election strategy co-ordinator Tom Watson resigned earlier this month amid questions over the Unite union's influence on the Labour candidate selection process.

According to one party insider, having a senior London-based figure will be key, with current director of comms Bob Roberts regularly travelling the country.

He added: 'It's about bringing in the discipline and co-ordination that Labour had in government to the Labour Party HQ.

'To gear up for the elections we will need to strengthen our comms and improve our attack, upping our ferocity and speed and ensuring we're delivering a 24-hour news service.'

It is expected a hire will be made before the Labour Party Conference in September.

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