The Staggers 25 July 2013 A memorable conversation What really* happened when Crosby and Cameron talked. Sign UpGet the New Statesman's Morning Call email. Sign-up The scene: 10 Downing Street. The Prime Minister is seated at a desk. Enter a stout Australian man. David Cameron: Ah, Lynton, come in. Lynton Crosby: G’day Dave. DC: I’d prefer ‘Prime Minister’. LC: But this is the Aussie straight-talking that you pay me for Davey-boy. DC: That’s when I’m wearing my Conservative leader’s hat. For the purposes of this conversation I’m wearing my Prime Minister’s hat. LC: But you’re not wearing a hat, David. Jeez, it’s lucky you hired a top dog like me to tell you what's what. DC: It’s an expression. Look, I need to talk to you about something. LC: What is it? DC: I can’t say. LC: Why not? DC: Because then we’d definitely have had a conversation about it. LC: Is this the plain cig… DC: (Tersely) I said I don’t want to have a conversation about it. LC: So what’s this conversation we’re having now? DC: That’s the problem. That’s what I want to have a conversation about. LC: You want to have a conversation about having had a conversation about something without having the conversation or ever having had it. DC: Yes. LC: Have you tried forgetting the conversation? DC: What do you mean? LC: Well, if you need to have a conversation about something but you don’t want to have had that conversation the usual thing is to forget that you ever had the conversation. That way, when someone asks you if you had the conversation, you can say: “I don’t recall any conversation.” DC: Of course! How could I have forgotten to say I don’t remember. LC: That’s why you pay me the big bucks. Is that all? It’s just that I’ve got a meeting with another client … DC: Well, there is one thing. About these clients of yours ... LC: Is this another conversation we won’t remember. DC: No, this is about a conversation you have to remember. It’s from back when I first hired you. You agreed to abide by certain principles of engagement to avoid conflicts of interest. LC: I don’t remember that conversation. DC: We’re having it now. LC: Right now? DC: Yes, this is it. Read this memo that Jeremy from the civil service put together about how being a corporate lobbyist four days a week won’t be a problem when you’re advising me one day a week. I think you'll find it captures the essence of the conversation, so now we can all remember having had it. LC: (Skims memo) Right, of course. It’s all coming back to me now, Prime Minister. DC: That’s why I pay you the big bucks. Curtain. *not really. › The Anthony Howard Award for Young Journalists Rafael Behr is political columnist at the Guardian and former political editor of the New Statesman Subscribe For daily analysis & more political coverage from Westminster and beyond subscribe for just £1 per month!