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8 October 2015

Common’s Confidential: Crosby’s red guard

Lynton Crosby is friendly to Labour only in the manner of a dingo putting a limping kangaroo out of its misery in the Australian Outback.

By Kevin Maguire

The spitters outside the Tory smugathon in Manchester weren’t the smartest. Lynton Crosby, the strategist behind David Cameron’s victory, enjoyed a thumb’s-up after a dozy demonstrator dazzled by his bright red trousers assumed that the Lizard of Oz was a Labour sympathiser.

Crosby is friendly to Labour only in the manner of a dingo putting a limping kangaroo out of its misery in the Australian Outback. So impressed was Mark Textor, Crosby’s phlegmatic partner-in-spin, that he purchased his own protective pair of crimson trews in the ultimate fashion offensive.

The Tory pairing for the London mayoral race of the smooth Old Etonian Zac Goldsmith with the street-fighting Crosby tees up an intriguing battle with the Labour combo of the street-fighting Sadiq Khan and the smoothish Old Etonian spinner Patrick Hennessy. Each candidate will know his opponent’s weaknesses better than in any other election.

The PM’s claim to Andrew Marr that he happily meets trade union leaders was exposed as a porky by a bit of choreography that helped Cameron to avoid bumping into Len McCluskey, who was on the same show. Downing Street boasted that it had outmanoeuvred the Unite leader at the BBC’s studios in Salford so that Blue Dave didn’t run into Red Len.

The PM prefers monologues to dialogues. Had the second guest been a hedge-fund squillionaire, Dave probably would have been all over him like a Labrador in heat.

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The No 10 spinner Craig Oliver enlisted the Independent Press Standards Organisation to inform newspapers of the PM’s understandable desire to avoid the repetition of a scurrilous allegation about Sam Cam made in Call Me Dave, Michael Ashcroft’s (unofficial) revenge biography. The rumour is “entirely unfounded”, as the Tory benefactor and co-author Isabel Oakeshott conceded, after furnishing the gory details on page 136 of the book. Claims that it couldn’t be true because Mrs C was “too much of a snob” only fuelled, I’m told, Sam Cam’s fury.

Never in the field of politics were so many hacks courted by so many wannabe leaders as at this year’s Tory conference. It would be quicker to list the Cons who have ruled themselves out. Even Chris “the Jackal” Grayling insists that he is in with a shot. The most blatant self-promotion was from Justine Greening, who has taken a leaf out of George Osborne’s book and gone for a full makeover. These days, she resembles Peter Mannion’s ambitious special adviser Emma in The Thick of It. Greening’s spad offered political reporters “select” meetings with her boss. So select, grumbled an invitee, that the real chosen few were those who weren’t invited!

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This article appears in the 07 Oct 2015 issue of the New Statesman, Putin vs Isis