||Issue No. 262||06 May 2005|
Rights and Wrongs
Interview: Fortress NSW
Unions: Fashions Afield
Industrial: Pay Dirt
Politics: Infrastructure Blues
History: Big Day Out
International: Making History
Economics: The Fear Factor
Review: The Robots Revolt
Poetry: The Corporation's Power
The Locker Room
Now, we all believe the English can't play spin, but the abject failure of the Tories star Aussie imports, Messrs Crosby and Textor, put us all to shame.
In a desperate bid to boot the moulding Blair regime out of office, the Tories called on the 'geniuses' behind John Howard's political ascendency, the former Liberal Party director Lynton Crosby and his partner, the pollster with prejudice, Mark Textor.
Reports suggest that Crosby was paid more than $600,000 to spend a few months in the Old Dart masterminded the election.
And what did they get for their money?A fear and loathing campaign on immigration, revving the Tory leader Michael Howard into increasingly feral bleatings about the dilution of the British blue bloods. Unlike Australia, where this type of opportunism was like a siren's song and left the ALP with no where to go, the British public did not take the hook.
When Plan A failed, the attack moved to gypsey's, a small number of itinerants who became a threat to the British way of life. This one was so obnoxious that some Tory MPs black banned the leaflets in their electorates.
When that didn't work, the final throw was to hurl personal abuse at Tony Blair for being a 'liar' over the Iraq War. The poetic irony of this line coming from the men behind Children Overboard and the interest rates scare campaign may have been lost on the Poms, but Aussie humour has never travelled that well.
As Faser Kemp, the deputy manager of the Labour election campaign, said Mr Crosby had failed to swing the campaign to the Conservatives "despite all the hype about him". "He brought his dog whistle over here but the British bulldog bit him."
"The problem with the way they ran so hard on asylum and immigration was it turned out the dog whistle could be heard by everyone, and there was a real backlash."
At the end of the day, the Australian masterminds were sidelined, and Howard tried to pare back lost grounded by spending the last week running positive. That he managed to claw some ground back in the dying, may give the Conservatives some succour, but is unlikely to see them turning to our Tool again in the near future.
One final observation - while Crosby-Textor have proven very good at keeping John Howard in office, a brief look around the nation shows they haven't had a whole lot of success in getting Oppositions in.
And this is because from the position of incumbency a leader has far more opportunity to shape the public mood, massive public resources to reinforce a message and an increasingly politicised bureaucracy to implement it. After all, where would the Tampa had been without a cowed military and a compliant defence bureaucracy?
This is why the Crosby model of campaigning is so insidious - it requires a fundamental breach of the trust we put into our leaders. It is all about using the levers of public power for political advantage, by unleashing our darker sides.
It is why we should do everything in our power to keep their candidates out of office. At least the good people of Britain have got that much right.
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