Humiliated by their loss to Tony Blair’s New Labour in
2001, the British Conservative Party turned, in 2005, to Australian Lynton
Crosby to improve their fortunes.

Fresh from successes at home with
John Howard, Crosby signed on for a fee of 441,000 pounds and 27,000 pounds for
accommodation – a total equivalent to $A1,123,270. Not a bad earn for a
few months work, but what did the Conservatives get for their money? Well,
certainly not the victory they were after. In 2001, without the Australian
political guru’s advice, they got 8,357,292 votes, or 31.7% of the national total.
With Lynton on board in 2005 the total vote rose to 8,785,941, or 32.4% of the
total. In other words, an extra 428,649 votes at a cost of £1.09 ($A2.62) a vote
or, in percentage terms, £668,571 a percentage point.

The figures on election spending disclosed yesterday by Britain’s
electoral commission show why it is that both Labour and the
Conservatives would be out of business but for secret loans from
wealthy supporters in the business community. Labour and the Tories
between them spent 18 million pounds and the Liberal Democrats four
million. Lynton Crosby’s fee was 62,000 pounds less than Prime Minister
Tony Blair paid the American pollster Mark Penn ,
who was recommended to him by Bill Clinton.

Disclosure: If there is a hint of envy in this piece it’s because I worked on Bob Hawke’s election campaigns for a month as
a junior stenographer and was only paid to meet the requirement that staff members travel free on CIP jets used for