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.
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.
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