Matthew Norman: Push the boat out for Lynton Crosby? Perhaps not

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The Independent Online

What a serene start for Lynton Crosby in his new post as David Cameron's chief general election strategist. The Aussie revered across the globe as the lobotomy patient's Karl Rove is serenaded to his new desk by the claim that, while steering Boris Johnson safely back to the London mayoralty, he reportedly identified one demographic with which the campaign needn't devote further time to "f***ing Muslims". Crosby has absolutely "no recollection" of this incident, while the Mayor artfully distances himself from that non-denial denial by insisting he has "no recollection" of the incident.

It's all going spiffingly, and no wonder Boris advised the PM to "push the boat out" to hire his mate, though he could have picked a less incendiary phrase. With that one, he reminds us of the 2001 Aussie re-election campaign Crosby ran for John Howard, won in large part after the incumbent humanely denied access to Australian waters to a Norwegian boat that had rescued several hundred sick and desperate Afghan refugees. Even if it was slowboating rather than swiftboating, Rove would have admired the judicious spreading of the lie that these Muslims, effing or otherwise, threw their children overboard to blackmail the government into helping them. As Mr Howard did, albeit by sending commandos rather than doctors to board the vessel.

It would be unfair of Labour to reprise that heartwarming tale ad nauseam. Such a tactic might pre-emptively define the Tory campaign as a xenophobic core vote affair such as the less triumphant one Crosby masterminded in 2005 for a Howard of our own, the adorable Michael, and we really wouldn't want that.

No problems with the police, surely

It would be unfairer still for an opposition MP to report the "f***ing Muslims" allegation to the Met. In that event, the police would be compelled to investigate by the precedent of the painstaking police enquiry into the claim that Tony Blair once referred to the "f***ing Welsh". Thank heaven that Tory relations with the police are presently so cordial. If they were a touch fraught, you could imagine them investigating this with a rigour designed to cause the sort of embarrassment unknown at No 10 since somebody lost his rag by the Downing Street gate.

Is Murdoch losing the plot?

How much longer before a loving relative has Rupert Murdoch, left, examined by a leading psycho-geriatrician? "Why," he tweeted on Saturday, "is Jewish-owned press so consistently anti-Israel in every crisis?" US media analysts are struggling to decipher what he was on about, and how he contrived to misrepresent himself as casually anti-Semitic, by clumsily seeming to propagate the old "Jewish-controlled media" meme, while intending to support Israel. If you should bump into the old darling, ask him who the Prime Minister of Israel is. If he answers "Golda Meir", summon professional help.

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