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A police officer at Glastonbury festival, where Christopher Shale was found in a backstage area.
David Cameron pays tribute to 'a big rock in my life' after Shale is found in toilet on day his strategy documents were leaked

A close political ally of David Cameron has been found dead in a portable toilet in a backstage area at Glastonbury festival. Christopher Shale, the chairman of West Oxfordshire Conservative Association (Woca), was found dead on Sunday morning.

Shale was a successful businessman as chief executive of Oxford Resources Ltd, the corporate cost-reduction company based in Chipping Norton. Previously he was chief executive of SGL Communications. He was also a director of the Centre for Policy Studies and a sponsor of OpenEurope, the eurosceptic thinktank.

Cameron's Witney parliamentary constituency is in west Oxfordshire and Shale was said to know Cameron well.

The prime minister released a statement in which he said: "Sam and I were devastated to hear the news about Christopher. He was a great friend and has been a huge support over the last decade in west Oxfordshire.

"A big rock in my life has suddenly been rolled away. Christopher was one of the most truly generous people I've ever met - he was always giving to others, his time, his help, his enthusiasm and above all his love of life.

"It was in that spirit that he made a massive contribution to the Conservative party both locally and nationally. Our love and prayers are with Nikki and the family. They have lost an amazing dad, west Oxfordshire has lost a big and wonderful man and like so many others, Sam and I have lost a close and valued friend."

Shale's death coincided with the publication of an article in the Mail on Sunday revealing the contents of a document said to be written by Shale arguing the local party needed to change radically to boost membership, using the codename Operation Vanguard.

The causes of Shale's death are unknown, but Glastonbury festival organiser Michael Eavis told a press conference on site this afternoon that a "senior Tory party member" had died. "We're told it is a suicide situation," Eavis said. "It is very, very sad."

Inspector Chris Morgan, of Avon and Somerset police, said: "At 9am this morning, a male has been found down by the press office in the toilet area. At the moment we're working to establish the cause of the gentleman's death."

Eavis said teams had been out looking for Shale "through the night".

His body was found at around 9am and officers were seen comforting a woman. An area between the Pyramid stage and the Other stage was cordoned off this morning, but reopened on Sunday afternoon, with only a minor police presence.

The memorandum, reported by the Mail on Sunday, said that the prime minister's own association gained only 22 members in the past year, and Shale is reported to propose "a transformational increase" in membership in ways that can others follow nationally.

According to the Mail on Sunday, Shale wrote that "collectively we are not always an appealing proposition".

Shale criticised the association's fundraising efforts, saying: "Over the years we have come across as graceless, voracious, crass, always on the take."

He concluded that people don't join because they "think we'll beg and steal from them. And they're right".

Shale added: "When we are together we are not always a group of people to whom many of our potential members are going to be magnetically drawn."

He goes on to warn: "When we come together as a group we sometimes morph into something different, less attractive. Our [Woca] environment alters us."

His solution offered was: "We must look different - when we communicate, when we're together. We must sound different - in what we say, how we say it, the language we use, our tone of voice. We must behave differently - try to see ourselves as others see us."

He claimed that the country can be divided into two groups, "politics-heavy" people and "politics-light" ones, who aren't interested in the subject except at general elections. He calculated that 98% of the population is "politics light" and that "politics heavy is a big turn off for politics-light people".

Shale likens changing the membership package away from political activity to what Cameron did to the national party: "It's what, pre-2005, DC used to call double ham and eggs: We've offered them ham and eggs repeatedly. They don't want it. So how can the solution possibly be double ham and eggs?"

Instead, under Shale's strategy, "Woca is, in effect, going into the event management business". He proposed the association put on events with "money can't buy appeal".

One idea was for "The PMQ DIY Lunch: Bring your own sandwiches to watch PMQs in a different fine country house in the constituency (by courtesy of a PPC member) every week; glass of wine, cup of coffee, informal discussion, yours for a fiver".

He also proposed party supporters are given access to politicians in the US in return for cash. "We might have 'Just Another Ordinary Day: We'll organise it but choose how you get there, stay where you like for as long as you like and on one of the days breakfast briefing with a senior staffer, tour of the White House, lunch with a senator ... yours for cost plus a £1,000 donation to Woca."