Is the British media getting a little excited about Lynton Crosby’s contribution to the Conservative Party election campaign? Have the Tories been so useless than anything helps?

Westminster watchers point out that the huge difference between John Howard in 2001 and Michael Howard in 2005 is that John Howard was in government. As prime minister, he was able to define the national interest in a way that opposition leader Michael Howard will never be able to do in 18 months.

John Howard was able to prevent the public service, especially Defence, offering alternative sources of opinion over the Tampa episode and the entire illegals imbroglio in 2001. Michael Howard can’t come up with his own “Pacific solution” to deal with the sensitive issue of asylum in Britain because the Blair Government will be able to wheel out plenty of “independent” civil service experts to say “you can’t do that”.

Meanwhile, a British political commentator writes: “Surely a real test for Lynton Crosby and Mark Textor will be how the Tories respond to Labour’s inevitable advertising and campaigning that you can’t trust the Tories on interest rates. Just as the ALP were vulnerable on the high interest rates in the early 1990s, so too are the Tories given that interest rates were jacked up to 15% as a result of the devaluation of the pound on Black Wednesday (16 September 1992). The irony of the interest rates shoe being on the other foot is just too delicious. It seems the British voters’ memory goes back as far as the Australian electorate when it comes to interest rates.”

Peter Fray

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