Last year I worked for the Labour Party getting students registered to vote for the General Election. It seems silly now, but it really felt like we were winning the debate. It felt like Ed Miliband was connecting with people, and David Cameron’s mask was slipping. I remember us really gathering momentum when Ed announced the policy to abolish the Non-Dom status. The public agreed, massively.
The next day, the then Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon, wrote an astonishing piece in The Times claiming Ed Miliband would stab the UK in the back, like he had his brother. It was emotive rhetoric, if a little bizarre; and it came from nowhere.
The Tories' election guru, Lynton Crosby, orchestrated that story: he orchestrated everything, no matter how odd or unimaginative it seemed. Fallon’s article was nothing more than a distraction from the Non-Dom announcement. Even a dead cat bounces. It was smart politics; it was the worst of politics. It was a fully integrated 21st century political strategy. And now, one year later, I think we are finally getting wise to it.
Crosby’s policy of shutting up as many Tories as possible worked. And so they kept it going. I’d like to think David Cameron et al woke up to those local election results this morning thinking ‘how did we get away with that?’, but they didn’t. They know their strategy is working perfectly.
Just think about what David Cameron’s premiership has brought. The first all out Doctors strike in the history of the NHS, the collapse of the British steel industry, national debt at £1.7trn (climbing by £5,170 a second), forced academisation of schools, cuts to disabled support, tax cuts for the richest, 18,000 fewer police officers, 4,500 fewer fire-fighters. The list goes on: this Government has been an unmitigated disaster.
The London Mayoral election swung round, and up stepped Lynton Crosby, and boy did he go for it. Real gutter stuff - writing to the Sikh population claiming Labour’s candidate, the Muslim Sadiq Khan would tax family jewellery, playing fast and loose with divisive language, culminating in an utterly outrageous piece in the Mail On Sunday titled: ‘Are we really going to hand the world’s greatest city to a Labour Party that thinks terrorists are its friends?” against an photo of a London bus destroyed in the 7/7 bombings.
But when the highly respected Conservative Peter Oborne called for a vote for Sadiq Khan and Baroness Warsi claimed this is ‘not the Zac Goldsmith she knows’, maybe we are starting to see the cracks appear.
I bet Zac doesn’t think Sadiq becoming Mayor of London is a terror threat to the UK. I think he has looked like a deer in the headlights for months, waiting for his next instruction.
Mayor of London 2016 - the candidates at a glance
Mayor of London 2016 - the candidates at a glance
1/7 Sadiq Khan - Labour
The MP for Tooting, Sadiq Khan says the mayoral election will be a 'referendum on the Tory housing crisis'. He has also pledged to freeze fares until 2020. Son of a bus driver, and doesn't let anyone forget it. His Conservative opponent has made claims about people who he has previously associated with - but attacks so far have failed to stick
2/7 Zac Goldsmith - Conservative
The MP for Richmond, Zac Goldsmith is a longstanding campaigner against the expansion of Heathrow airport. Despite his environment credentials - he once edited The Ecologist magazine - the Tory candidate has said he would 'rip out' Boris Johnson's cycle lanes if they don't work. A very wealthy man, his campaign has been dogged by accusations of racism against Sadiq Khan
3/7 Sian Berry - Green Party
A councillor in the London Borough of Camden, Sian Berry is campaigning on improving homes for renters, cleaning up London's air pollution, and flattening fare zones to help Londoners. She previously ran as the party's mayoral candidate in 2008. In 2012, the Green Party came in third place
4/7 Caroline Pidgeon - Liberal Democrat
A Liberal Democrat London Assembly member for eight years, Caroline Pidgeon has a strong record on the Assembly's transport committee standing up for commuters and cyclists alike. She wants to set up a £2 billion housing investment fund and make all the capital's buses zero emission
5/7 Peter Whittle - UKIP
UKIP hasn't fared so well in London in previous elections, but is hoping for a breakthrough this time. Peter Whittle has been UKIP's culture spokesperson for two years. He tends to focus on the impact of immigration on London's housing crisis
6/7 George Galloway - RESPECT
George Galloway has made a habit of defying the odds and pulling off stunning victories when standing for Parliament. His campaign - based on the slogan 'a London for all' has so far failed to make headway in the polls - has his luck run out?
7/7 Sophie Walker - Women's Equality Party
A journalist, Sophie Walker is campaigning for the little-known Women's Equality Party. She is pledging to make 'equality and diversity the fuel that drives our nation's capital' with measures to increase women's representation in enterprise, more affordable homes and flexible childcare
While the Tories keep winning, and winning is all they care about, they won’t change. And that is why, by the end of today, Lynton Crosby will arise as a Knight of the Realm. The arrogance is staggering.
The Conservatives won the General Election on the back of a failed austerity ideology, and then people got mad when they cut tax credits, disabled allowance, and refused to let 3,000 children refugees into Britain. That is what the Tories do. This government holds the people of the country in contempt, and they have been getting away with it, abetted by Crosby. But the British public are not stupid.
I think people have seen the Goldsmith campaign for what it truly is: a calculated attempt to deflect away from any of the major issues facing our capital. I only hope this is the turning point, and we can really begin to see through Lynton Crosby’s grip on the people who are accountable to us and us alone.Reuse content