Tory modernisers brace themselves for renewed 'nasty party' attacks as Lynton Crosby is appointed

 

Conservative modernisers are bracing themselves for renewed attacks on the Tories as “the nasty party” following the news that David Cameron has appointed Lynton Crosby, a controversial Australian political consultant, to run the Tories’ 2015 general election campaign.

Some modernisers fear the re-hiring of the man who ran the party’s 2005 election campaign, during which he was criticised for sending coded “dog-whistle” messages to key voters on immigration, signals a shift to the right and another nail in the coffin of the modernisation programme of Cameron’s early leadership.

The Prime Minister’s aides dismissed the fears last night, insisting that Mr Crosby’s role would be to implement a “centre-ground” campaign devised and headed by the Prime Minister and the Chancellor, George Osborne. They expect him to bolster the Tories’ appeal to blue-collar workers and the “strivers” of an “aspiration nation” Mr Cameron will target as he tries to win an overall majority.

The plain-speaking Australian is regarded as a brilliant strategist who sticks to his plan and is not diverted by day-to-day headlines. He is likely to be paid hundreds of thousands of pounds in line with the advice of Boris Johnson, whom he twice helped win election as Mayor of London, who said the Tories should “break the piggy bank” to hire him.

Mr Crosby’s ability to attract controversy was highlighted yesterday when it was reported that he urged Mr Johnson to concentrate on Tory voters rather than “f****ng Muslims” during this year’s mayoral campaign. Mr Crosby insisted he had “absolutely no recollection” of using the phrase.

The consultant, dubbed the “Wizard of Oz” helped John Howard, leader of Australia’s conservative Liberal Party, win four elections, often playing the immigration card. Lord Ashcroft, the former deputy Tory chairman, recently warned that hiring him for the party’s 2015 campaign would be a recipe for “conflict and confusion”.

Grant Shapps, the Tory chairman, confirmed that Mr Crosby would start work as consultant “campaign manager” early next year – initially on a part-time basis. He said he had spoken about the alleged comments with the strategist, who assured him that he had “no recollection of this at all”.

Speaking on  the BBC’s Sunday Politics programme, Mr Shapps denied there was any conflict of interest because of the clients of Mr Crosby’s political consultancy business.

Mr Shapps confirmed that half of the 40 winnable seats the Tories will try to gain at the next election are currently held by the Liberal Democrats, which could fuel Coalition tensions. “I want Conservatives to win in every seat in the country and I don’t really mind who the opposition is.

We need to win those seats if we are going to form the next government and have an outright majority and do some of the things this country desperately needs,” he said. “I do not see it as a personal vendetta against the Liberal Democrats.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
health
News
science
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
News
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
people
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
News
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Sport
football
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power