Can “below the radar” campaigning give Michael Howard a chance?
A good piece by Brian Wheeler on BBC News online on Lynton Crosby – the Australian Campaigning guru who has been hired by the Tories to run the coming election campaign. It notes:-
The 48-year-old has been described as a “master of the dark political arts” and “the Australian Karl Rove,” a reference to George Bush’s legendary campaign adviser. In 2002, Australian newspaper The Age described Mr Crosby as “one of the most powerful and influential figures in the nation”. His reputation is built on masterminding four successive general election victories for Australian Prime Minister John Howard. Mr Howard, of the Liberal Party, the nearest Australian equivalent of the UK’s Conservative party, returned from the political wilderness in 1996 to defeat Labour’s Paul Keating. He went on to win a further three elections, with Mr Crosby involved in key campaigning roles. ..
Whatever tactics he chooses to deploy in the UK, Mr Crosby is certain to want a tough, highly-focused election campaign. He is known for his aggressive style and his willingness to “go negative”. He reportedly made quite an impression when he made a presentation at a shadow cabinet bonding weekend last year. According to one report, then shadow chancellor Michael Howard’s “eyes lit up” as Mr Crosby screened a television ad showing Paul Keating making a remark he later had to withdraw. This has led to speculation the Tories will attempt to skewer Tony Blair on “trust” at the next election. What Mr Crosby does best, according to one journalist who has watched him at close quarters, is “below the radar” campaigning.
With the current Labour poll lead well within the 6.6% that the pollsters overstated the margin last time the addition of Lynton Crosby could make the coming campaign very interesting. Add on to that the tactical vote unwind factor, which we’ve discussed at length here, and the rise of the Lib Dems then the coming election might not be the foregone conclusion that punters seem to think it is.
Having said all of that you would have to be a bold gambler to back the Tories to win most seats even at 6/1
It might be, though, that there’s value for Michael Howard’s party in the spread markets. The latest IG spreads are LAB 340-348: CON 202-210: LD 68-72
We need a lot of convincing but today’s best Labour price of 1/6 seems to be over-valued. Risking £60 to win £10 in six months time should involve almost no doubt. Lynton Crosby makes us a little cautious.
Our betting plan = watch and wait.