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
  • 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

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...

Recruitment Genius: SEO Executive

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: New Lift Sales Executive - Lift and Elevators

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A challenging opportunity for a...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss