Tory modernisers brace themselves for renewed 'nasty party' attacks as Lynton Crosby is appointed
Andrew Grice has been Political Editor of The Independent since 1998. He was previously Political Editor of The Sunday Times, where he worked for 10 years, and he has been a Westminster-based journalist since 1982. His column, Inside Politics, appears in The Independent each Saturday.
Monday 19 November 2012
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.”
- 1 If you're not already angry about the migrant crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
- 2 David De Gea: Manchester United goalkeeper's £29m move to Real Madrid off - because paperwork 'not done in time'
- 3 Pansexual: What is it - and when did the term gain popularity?
- 4 Netherlands to withdraw food and shelter from failed asylum-seekers after just 'a few weeks'
- 5 Blood Moon and Supermoon: September to bring brightest – and dimmest – full Moon of the year on same night
Bono's group has made more money from Facebook investment than from all his music
Nazi 'gold train': Fire engulfs suspected location of vehicle in Poland
Blood Moon and Supermoon: September to bring brightest – and dimmest – full Moon of the year on same night
Isis releases graphic video showing four Shia 'spies' being burned alive in Anbar, Iraq
A Chinese journalist has appeared on state television 'confessing' to causing the stock market chaos
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
Tony Blair attacks Jeremy Corbyn's 'Alice In Wonderland' politics
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn
UN investigating British Government over human rights abuses caused by IDS welfare reforms
£18 - 23k + Bonus + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Junior Artworker / Junior Mac Ar...
£16 - 18k: Guru Careers: A Trainee Installation Engineer / Field Service Engin...
£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This ambitious and friendly sof...
£50000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This software company has been ...