Will Alistair Campbell finally meet his match?

Will Alistair Campbell finally meet his match?


    Can Lynton Crosby really grapple with the Labour spin machine?

After more than a decade of almost total dominance of the media could the New Labour machine, now joined again by Alistair Campbell, be finally meeting its match. Is the Tory party getting its PR and campaigning act together?

In the past week or so we’ve seen moves by Michael Howard’s party that would have been unheard at previous elections. There’s the concerted attack on Campbell’s return to centre stage which seems to be designed at making the former Number 10 Director of Communications the issue. The unfortunate f*****g t**ts email received by the BBC says a lot about the style of the man and will be hard to sweep under the carpet.

There’s been the Tory PR move on the accuracy of opinion polls which Polly Toynee writes about in the Guardian this morning and was seen in last night’s Newsnight on BBC2. Much of this is based on concepts and arguments first used in discussions on this site. Whether this proves to be right or wrong the party’s communication team is seeking to raise doubts that could help them deal with any future poor ratings.

And there was yesterday’s somewhat surprising news that the Times is being sued over comments that the Tory campaign chief, Lynton Crosby, was alleged to have made about his party’s chances. Is this a shot over the bows aimed at the media generally on how they cover the Tories? On the face of it this seems an odd thing to do because it reminds people of the original story but, no doubt, Crosby has thought that one through.

    These three moves are not just about now but seem designed to set the scene for the whole campaign.

The agenda seems to be to tar the whole Labour campaign with the Campbell brush; to neutralise the impact of possible poor poll ratings and to let the media know that the party won’t just lie down if stories it says are not correct are published.

When Michael Howard brought over Lynton Crosby from Australia it was clearly to do more than just set up databases of potential Tory voters. He’s presented as a political heavy-weight – but he’s got a big challenge on his hands matching Campbell.

Whether all of this will have an impact on the outcome we do not know and it could just turn voters off or boost the Lib Dems. But it will sure make the coming weeks much more interesting.

© Mike Smithson 2005

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