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Devon Tory election strategy leaked by e-mail error

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: February 14, 2013

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Conservative councillors in Devon have been left red-faced after an e-mail blunder saw the party hand its election strategy to its rivals.

Devon County Council leader John Hart, a Conservative, dashed off an e-mail explaining how Devon's Tories should fight May's local elections – claiming modest council tax rises would make a "very good sound bite".

The message was mistakenly sent to a man named Alan Hughes by Conservative Devon councillor Bernard Hughes.

Alan Hughes, a consultant in the satellite industry in Hampshire, decided that the e-mail should be passed on – and forwarded the battle plan to every member of Devon County Council.

Alan Hughes said he received an apology from Bernard Hughes, although by that time he had already forwarded the e-mail.

"I was trying to send the e-mail from one computer to another and somehow pressed the wrong button," said Bernard Hughes, who is no relation to Alan. "I've apologised to the leader of the council and I am very embarrassed. I'm mortified to be honest."

In the e-mail Mr Hart gives an update of a Conservative Party meeting before briefing councillors and candidates on the budget, which the council must pass before the election.

"We have a large majority on each of the scrutiny committees," he writes, "provided all members turn up...

"I would rather not have Lib Dem-recommended changes to the budget being passed as they will definitely become election issues in less than 12 weeks."

Mr Hart also talks about the party's election claims, including one that "we (Conservative Party) have run Devon County for four years and only increased council tax by 1.98%, a very good sound bite for every parish council meeting you attend".

Mr Hart finished his e-mail warning all campaign material must be approved by senior party members. He wrote: "I want no promises made by a candidate that we cannot keep, we will only play into the hands of the opposition parties. Keep your leaflets positive, ignore the other parties. Let them do what they like – answer them and you will find people looking to see what was originally said."

Mr Hart confirmed the contents of the email. He added: "We will be fighting the Devon County Council elections in May on our record of safeguarding frontline services, keeping council tax down and making the authority more efficient and business-like."

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5 comments

  • jtme1  |  February 15 2013, 1:11AM

    I VOTED TORY. last time I do that, UKIP for me next time around.

    |   -14
  • CharlieDodd  |  February 14 2013, 10:17PM

    The best election strategy for the Tories as a whole would be to get rid of that useless overgrown public schoolboy in No.10 and elect a dynamic new leader, oh when will we see the likes of the Iron Lady again? (sniffle)

    |   -14
  • nicold  |  February 14 2013, 4:09PM

    "Devon Tory election strategy leaked" Oh you mean promise the Earth and deliver very little! So what's new!

    |   4
  • EdnaFruitcake  |  February 14 2013, 3:34PM

    Getting people back to work and off benefits you would think would be a good thing, good for everyone and applauded, but this is benefits Britain. The British working class used to be stong and proud and march for work, now they moan for benefits.

    |   -3
  • firkinjeffery  |  February 14 2013, 2:30PM

    i reckon most of us could guess what was in it. we will cut benefits, ,', slim down them pesky kids, get em back up them there chimneys. ansom

    |   4

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