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No matter how good or bad Crosby may be, Cameron remains the problem

Posted on 21 November 2012 | 9:11am

Quite a few journalists at last night’s Portland Communications pub quiz, and one or two of them asking me what I thought of the Tories’ planned hiring of Australian consultant Lynton Crosby. The general feeling seemed to be that it was a good move and would benefit the Tories as they seek their first general election win since 1992.

But I think for some of them there was a fair bit of misreading going on, both in relation to his record, and to the difference between London and general elections, and between opposition and government.

First, on his record, he certainly has a few election wins he can point to. But the only time I saw his work close up, in the 2005 general election when he was Michael Howard’s strategist, if it was really his campaign, it was hard to be impressed. It was our third election, after the Iraq war and with the story of the Attorney General’s advice drowning out the debate at times, yet still we got a good majority. Now it may be that Howard was driving the campaign himself, but the so-called dog whistle approach and the appeal to basic right wing instincts smacked of Crosby, and totally misread the difference between media and public opinion, and between polling and real opinion.

As for Boris Johnson’s two wins in Mayoral elections, there are two points to make. The first is that the key to Boris’s success is his personality. The second is that in general elections, policy really does come to the fore.

Here the difference between opposition and government comes into play. It will not be easy for Crosby to grip the government policy machine, even if he wants to, but policy being developed now will be central to the government’s success between now and the election, which in turn will impact upon success at the polls.

Anyone you speak to in government speaks of drift and lack of grip at the centre, so it may be that Crosby is entering what the military call a permissive environment. But he will find it hard to get his hands on all the levers he will need to get his hands on.

The key is less Crosby than Cameron. He surely knows by now that lack of clear and sustained strategy is his problem. I assume Crosby had been hired to try to give him one. The fact the PM has so far struggled, and the fact he and Crosby were both central to the 2005 campaign, should make Labour more confident than the press are suggesting they should be. No complacency, as always, should be a watchword. But two wins for Boris are not the stuff of strategic invincibility.

  • Anonymous

    What Cameron and Clegg need to realise, as they are both, really, hardcore tories, is the provinces are not impressed, and Cameron’s support is shrinking like a balloon towards the home counties centre like never before. I for one, in every way I possibly can, have been pointing this out to people, like my promotion of the midlands and especially the north of England.

    The line between Portland and the Wash is getting more blunt, and I like it, for the good of my Britland. Just feel sorry for those same feelers below that line, Cameron will turn on them eventually.

    SONG!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KcoGU5i9E9s

  • Anonymous

    Furthermore Alastair, watched this fucked up docu on Beeb4, where they were spouting that The City looks after us financially! Talk of bullshit, we are in debt more that what Christ could spend from two thousand years ago. The Tories and their City friends have a lot to answer for for playing fun and games with Britain, and getting us in debt, more debt than any devill would ask from us. C’nts. Elephant in the room, Mrs Thatcher!

  • http://twitter.com/daphne80 lucy

    I never fail to be amazed at callmedave’s choice when it comes to friends and supporters. Boris has such a strong personality (be it contrived or real), I think his chances were strong regardless of whoever was in charge. Even leaving aside what Crosby has said/is alleged to have said, with regard to ethinc groups in the UK the suggestion will be enough. Cameron is a loser and he keeps picking losers to help him. “Throw enough mud at a wall and some of it will stick ” appears to be his only consistent policy so far. The metaphorical wall is covered with policy failures.

  • Olli Issakainen

    Four wins.
    Daily crisis hint at deep troubles inside David Cameron´s machine.
    Something structural as well political is wrong.
    There is lack of grip inside No 10.
    Most of time is spend on day-to-day crisis management.
    There is permanent crisis.
    The Australian “master strategist” Lynton Crosby is now set to return. Can he fix the incompetence and lack of political direction? The PM has been adrift since his policy guru Steve Hilton left.
    Mr Crosby masterminded Michael Howard´s 2005 general election campaign and secured Boris Johnson´s election and re-election.
    The Tories want Mr Crosby to take control of POLITICAL STRATEGY and fight the next election.
    Money is not a problem. Sounds desperate.
    Mr Crosby has personal authority and experience.
    Cameron started the 2005 general election campaign as head of policy. But Lynton Crosby placed crime and immigration at the centre of campaign.
    The Howard/Crosby approach was disowned by Mr Cameron.
    Cameron´s 2005 Tory leadership campaign was based on green concerns, foreign aid and public services.
    Reinvention of the Conservative party was the aim.
    Lynton Crosby always concentrates on the core vote issues.
    Dog whistle politics means campaigning techniques which sent a covert message.
    Mr Crosby is known for his right-wing messages.
    In order to win Labour has chosen to be on the left on the economy and on the right on everything else.
    Economic democracy is a vote winner at the time of falling living standards.
    Tax avoidance by multinationals is vast. Apple, Asda, Google, Ikea, Starbucks, Vodafone etc.
    Banks like Barclays and HSBC are paying record fines for wrongdoings.
    Richest 1,000 people have seen their wealth increased by £155bn since the crisis started.
    We must stop protecting the rich from market forces.
    We must stop corporations bankrolling politics.
    Total campaign spending in UK in 2010 was £58m.
    Campaigns are won by capturing the centre.
    The 2015 election will be won by opposing the European Union. 56% of Britons want the country out of EU.
    They are right – who wants to live in socialist command economy run by unelected technocrats?
    Politicis is not light entertainment. Authenticity matters.
    Based on honesty and integrity.
    Tony Blair won in 2005 with only 35% of vote.
    Harold Wilson won four general elections!
    Michael Foot was right on banks and EU (EEC).

  • http://www.patrickjames.co.uk/ Patrick James

    I think Cameron chose Crosby primarily to appease the large group of very right wing back benchers.

    The other underlying problem with Cameron apart from lack of strategy is that every decision is made on the basis of whether this group of back benchers will like it, not whether it is actually a good idea or not.

  • Anonymous

    Désolé, ne vous méprenez pas, mais si le hasard de la vie joue mal avec vous, cette personne voudra nous de continuer avec elle, jouant le jeu de la vie, nous regarde d’en haut,
    watch?v=Sazw6NG9Asw

    Sorry, a rugger player has pased at 29, baffling it has been, as here Alastair,
    http://www.rugbydump.com/2012/11/2878/tribute-to-fijian-and-toulouse-back-maleli-kunavore-died-aged-29

  • Anonymous

    Damn disqus again, cette chanson j’ai essayé de poster Alastair, avec un clic image pour tous – dame avec les cuisses qui crachent sur ​​nous tous comme un savon mouillé, ai-je raison Alastair?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sazw6NG9Asw

  • Anonymous

    Bugger it.might as well post Itie Chromatics from Milano, with their taller young ladies you could say Alastair, put windmills and solar panel nimbeys to shame, you could say, ma io non credo che sia il punto che stanno facendo, credo che sia semplicemente di moda.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1jBWfQ6C1qY

    Any good kiddies?/Qualsiasi bimbi buoni?

  • Anonymous

    They’re mad, aren’t they Alastair? Makes us lot look that we were right all along, screaming at the night sky,

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-20424492

    What a bunch of tossers they are.

  • Anonymous

    Just two points

    1- the lack of clear and sustained strategy would be hard to overcome given Cameron’s character. Will he be able to stomach the kind of brusqueness Crosby is reportedly well known for?

    2- Will Osborne be willing to completely relinquish his role in strategising a Tory majority? Is he going to just sit back and not meddle should Crosby’s line of attack diverge from his?

  • Anonymous

    I agree, and I think the point AC often makes about Cameron failing to win an election when he had the wind behind him is a good one.

    As to the mayoral elections, Crosby at least had the sense during the first one to keep Johnson away from the cameras. Johnson was not allowed to go on revealing his lack of knowledge about how to run things. During the second one, Ken became the easy target of a smear campaign. Whilst we might expect further smear campaigns at the national level, how do you make a man lacking in authority with a poor record seem competent? Because that’s the task which falls to Crosby now.

  • Viviane King

    Better get ready for a race to the bottom if Crosby is helping Cameron. He “helped” the right wing Coalition in Australia under John Howard. The result was a move to the right, dog whistle politics, downward envy, racism, denigration of those on welfare and those struggling is society. The only way the left here was able to survive was by moving towards the right and we are poorer for that – refugees are turned away, welfare has been cut for those at the bottom whilst middle class welfare has not been touched. The list goes on. Hopefully Crosby dumbing down of campaigns will fall flat in the UK, but please keep him as we don’t want him back in Australia!

  • JohnHW

    I keep hearing how Crosby ‘won’ the 2012 mayoral campaign for Boris, but by God, it was a close run thing. Up against just about anyone else except Livingstone, I think Boris would have lost.