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
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

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Vehicle Inspectors / Purchasers

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Trainee Vehicle Inspectors / Pu...

Recruitment Genius: Vehicle Broker / Purchaser

£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £45,000

£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...

Recruitment Genius: Call Centre Manager - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This innovative online car purc...

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

How to find gold

Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

Not born in the USA

Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
10 best balsamic vinegars

10 best balsamic vinegars

Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'