With Zac continuing to trail some Tory voices are questioning the Crosby-inspired campaign

With Zac continuing to trail some Tory voices are questioning the Crosby-inspired campaign

Donald Brind looks at the Goldsmith campaign tactics

Pick your metaphor. Canine or feline. The folklore surrounding Tory election guru Lynton Crosby has both “dead cats” and “dog whistles”. They refer to a strategy based on playing the man not the ball; issuing innuendos and smears rather than fighting on the issues.He was David Cameron’s saviour in the general election but the Crosby approach failed to deliver for the Canadian Tories back in October.

Crosby’s fingerprints are all over the London Mayoral campaign. Soon after his selection as Tory candidate Zac Goldsmith hired Mark Fullbrook, Jim Messina and Craig Elder, appointments, which according to the Evening Standard “reveal the influence of Mr Crosby, the Australian election guru who masterminded Boris Johnson’s mayoral victories in 2008 and 2012”. It added that Tory MPs regard him as a miracle worker for “clinching a Commons overall majority in May on a popular vote of 37 per cent.”

The Crosby strategy failed in Canada when playing the Islamaphobia card back-fired on the then Premier Stephen Harper. In a PB post ahead of the Canadian poll I noted a Guardian comment that Harper’s decision to invoke anti-Muslim rhetoric coincided with Crosby’s involvement. “His presence in Canada first became apparent during a debate in which Harper appealed for the votes of what he called “old-stock Canadians” – a novel phrase that struck a deliberately discordant note in the typically inclusive chorus of Canadian multiculturalism.”

The hope – Yes, I am biased – that what failed in Canada will fail in London is prompted by a fierce attack on Goldsmith by Tory activist Shazia Awan who fought the General Election in a safe Labour seat and clearly cherishes a parliamentary career.

In a New Statesman article  adorned with an impressive trio of photographs of the aspirant Aswan with Margaret Thatcher, David Cameron and Theresa May she claims that Goldsmith’s campaign is “dragging the party back to the days of Enoch Powell.”

She says she had always admired Goldsmith as a principled Tory, an environmental campaigner and someone who loved London.Now she says, she sees Goldsmith as a man “too weak to stand up to those directing his campaign, and as a result ruining his own reputation and credibility in the fickle pursuit of power.”

Worse still, she says, is the very real thought that Tory campaign chiefs know they are in controversial territory of their own creation, and want to use it as an opportunity to create a wedge and vitriolic rhetoric between Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims.


The Tory activist’s assault echoes charges from Labour that Goldsmith is attacking Khan in coded anti-Muslim messages. Khan is routinely described as “radical and divisive”. Labour List says “slippery words” like “radical” to comes “dangerously close” to the term “radicalised”.

The Labour activist website highlights leaflets sent to Indian and Tamil voters suggesting Khan will impose “a wealth tax on family jewellery”. “In one fell swoop people of Indian and Tamil origin are reduced to a stereotype: their primary concern is hoarding jewellery.”

Tory activist Awan says she is “disgusted and deeply upset by the intrusive, patronising and divisive tactics” being used by her party. She says the resort to racial profiling “in one of the most beautifully diverse cities in the world where the black, minority and ethnic population makes up 44 per cent of the vote” is desperate and foolish.

And she predicts It is likely to see the election of a Labour Mayor.

Donald Brind

Comments are closed.