New Tory Chairman Grant Shapps has taken the dramatic step of reinstalling the general election countdown clock in CCHQ to remind staffers that there are only 959 days until voters deliver their verdict on the Conservatives’ time in government. Shapps has also got something else planned, which is to rearrange the desks. I understand that he told the 1922 committee last week that he wants to make Tory party press officers sit next to the researchers who cover each specific policy area so that they can feed one another information effectively. Currently they sit on different banks of desks.

One CCHQ veteran points out to me that Shapps’ exciting desk move plan isn’t exactly new. Before the current arrangement, the researchers and spinners were separated from one another by a glass partition, and before that they sat alongside one another. Another staffer from way back claims the desk chairs have been rearranged twice in the past decade. Apparently the researchers found it impossible to get their heads down and pore over spreadsheets because of the chatty press officers next to them, and the press officers were unnerved by the presence of a policy wonk who knew every tiny detail of a policy earwigging on conversations with journalists in which they attempted to sell that policy in plain English. Either way, they’ll all be left feeling rather unnerved if there are many more Budget-style U-turns on policies they’ve all been beavering over.

Tags: Conservatives, Grant Shapps, UK politics