Tories seek new agency partner

The Conservative Party is likely to hold a pitch to find a new agency in the run-up to the 1999 European Parliament elections after William Hague, the new Tory leader, formally severed the party’s links with M&C Saatchi this week. Senior Tories believe the party will manage without one until then.

The Conservative Party is likely to hold a pitch to find a new

agency in the run-up to the 1999 European Parliament elections after

William Hague, the new Tory leader, formally severed the party’s links

with M&C Saatchi this week. Senior Tories believe the party will manage

without one until then.



The split was predicted in Campaign (2 May) after a string of

hard-hitting anti-Labour ads were vetoed by the then party leader, John

Major, and party chairman, Brian Mawhinney, to the frustration of Lord

Saatchi.



Hague’s decision to appoint Lord Parkinson as Mawhinney’s successor

prompted some Tory insiders to predict that M&C Saatchi would be

retained. Parkinson was chairman when the Tories enjoyed their biggest

victory in recent times - a majority of 144 in 1983.



However, Parkinson is expected to stand down before the next general

election and Hague is determined to make a ’fresh start’ in all aspects

of the party’s operations.



’The Saatchi days are over,’ one senior Tory source said. ’The

relationship has come to a natural end.’



Tory allies of Lord Saatchi said they were not surprised by the

’divorce’.



But they said ’deep ties’ remained and it would be wrong to assume he

would not play a part in future Tory campaigns. They pointed out that

the party and agency split after rows during the 1987 election, but

reformed their partnership in 1992 after the Tories had used Allen Brady

Marsh in the 1989 Euro elections.



Meanwhile, Alan Duncan, a Tory vice-chairman and one of Hague’s closest

allies, has launched an overhaul of the party’s communications.

Conservative Central Office will model itself on the Millbank media

centre which played an important part in Labour’s victory on 1 May. ’We

have to learn lessons and modernise the party,’ a senior Tory said.



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