Bell Pottinger Public Affairs chairman Peter Bingle has defended his controversial 'musings of a Tory in despair' email, which recently landed him in hot water with Conservative Party press chiefs.
Bingle sent out a withering critique of the Tory operation to friends and colleagues last Friday. The email made the second item on the Channel Four News that evening - forcing angry party officials to put out a statement distancing themselves from the Bell Pottinger chief.
A Tory spokesman said: 'This is a lobbyist with his own agenda who has no understanding at all of what's going on in Tory HQ.'
Meanwhile, Tory head of press Henry Macrory used Twitter to ramp up the attack on Bingle, with a sequence of 11 tweets poking fun at Bingle's previous activity on the website. But Bingle did receive support from the influential right-wing blogger Guido Fawkes, who opined that Bingle 'has a point'.
Speaking to PRWeek, Bingle said he had 'no idea' who Macrory was. But he insisted that his email describing the Tory election campaign as 'shambolic' was well-intentioned, and was confident it would not affect his relations with Tory contacts.
The former Tory councillor said: 'The timing of the musing coincided with a general wobble in the Tory Party. People like me want them to win. But that doesn't mean we can't be a critical friend. Some of us have been around a long time and we just want to be helpful ... People know I've never been scared to say what I think, but that doesn't mean I can't work with politicians and advisers of all parties. That's really the trick in politics - you should be able to say what you think.'
Bingle's central argument was that 'nobody knows what the Tory Party stands for'. Last weekend, leader David Cameron attempted to give more definition to the Tory message at his party's Welsh conference in Llandudno, arguing that reforming public services and cutting waste would allow the Tories to 'deliver more for less'.
Asked whether he stood by his email, Bingle replied: 'Yes. But what's interesting is that the speech in Wales was the first time there has been a simple powerful message.'
From: Peter Bingle (mailto: PBingle@Bell-Pottinger.co.uk)
Sent: 05 March 2010 09:57
To: Peter Bingle
Subject: Musings of a Tory in despair ...
I received the results of last night's YouGov/Channel Four of the key Tory/Labour marginals with despair but no real surprise. A seven point lead has become a two point lead which points to a hung parliament.
In recent weeks I have hinted at being not over-impressed by the Tory campaign since the beginning of the year. The time has now come to be more blunt. The Tory campaign is shambolic and unless somebody of quality and experience takes control of it now there is a real danger of the Tories throwing away what should be an inevitable election victory. Should this happen, David Cameron will never be forgiven by his party and his party's supporters in the country who are desperate for a change of government.