UK
Tory leader Michael Howard launched his election manifesto overnight –
and the fingerprints of his Australian political svengali, Lynton
Crosby, were all over it. Reports The Guardian
: “Conservative leader Michael Howard today formally outlined his
vision for the country, themed on ‘putting trust in the people of our
country’.”

Trust. It’s a message familiar to Australians, a
version of which John Howard ran past the electorate as a key plank of
his successful reelection campaign last October. Crikey has reported on
the impact Crosby is having in the UK, here . And the Crosby legend appears to be growing. The Scotsman’s James Kirkup reported yesterday
that Tory strategists “have taken to quoting their Australian
consultant Lynton Crosby’s aphorism that when you’re hunting ducks,
shoot where the ducks are”.

This morning, the BBC
reports that Michael Howard’s first election broadcast will invoke an
interesting section of the electorate: Howard is to announce: “I will
speak up for Britain’s forgotten majority – the people who work hard,
play by the rules and take responsibility for themselves and their
families.” Tories focus on ‘British values’

It’s a pitch eerily similar to Robert Menzies’ “forgotten people”, powerfully evoked by the Liberal founder in this
famous wartime speech. Menzies was talking about the rise of the middle
class. Howard’s “forgotten majority”, as defined and articulated by
Crosby, seem more interested in tax cuts and reduced immigration levels.

Whether
or not this translates into votes, the UK polls are much rosier for the
Tories, and Crosby is enjoying his slice of the credit. As Annabel
Crabb reported in Saturday’s Herald
: “Lynton Crosby has had a massive effect on the Conservative
campaign,” says Matt Jones, a former senior adviser to the
Conservatives who now works as communications director for the
influential right-wing think tank Policy Exchange.

“Lynton
Crosby has reminded the Tories that you don’t win elections by being
clever or right. He has made them realise that you win elections by
focusing relentlessly on the things that matter to people and by being
absolutely clear and specific over what you will do about them.”

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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