It was the Queen’s Speech today in the UK. Her Maj arrives in glass carriage or something from Buckingham Palace, attended by flunkies and Phil the Greek, Black Rod (a Soho muso) knocks on the door, and then they all proceed down the aisle to sit on chairs that appear to have been sculpted from Hoadley’s violet crumble. She then proceeds to read out a series of policies that she quite possibly hates (“one’s government will, this year, be nationalising the means of production”) …

So it takes skill to upstage the day. But Lynton Crosby — the w/lizard of Oz — has managed it.

The Tory Party’s shadowy adviser, variously credited/blamed for putting a bit of reactionary bite into an extraordinarily pissweak government, Crosby is no fan of the Cameroonians touchy-feely policies — such as the plan to adopt the Australian plan for plain cigarette packaging, which was also left out.

But that’s no surprise, since the PR wing of Crosby Textor led the fight against plain packaging in Australia, and is in the pay of British American Tobacco. The policy was axed after Crosby joined the Cameron team. Also axed was a law to set a minimum price for units of alcohol, with questions raised about Crosby Textor’s links to the Distilled Spirits Industry Council of Australia, which counts a bunch of UK spirits groups amongst its members.

Of course, it will be easy enough to tell if Crosby is influencing the UK government by checking the lobbyists’ register. Oh hang, there isn’t one. The Cameron government was going to introduce one, but dropped the policy. Still, an FOI request for the minutes of Cameron-Crosby meetings would … ah, they’re not subject to FOIs, because Crosby, head of a multi-million PR firm, is a “political adviser” to Cameron.

Given the UK parliament has vestiges of democracy, Crosby was attacked from the government side, by both a Tory backbencher and a Liberal-Democrat. The gumment denied that Crosby had played any role in shaping the pared-down speech — but today the Financial Times‘ Westminster blog noted they had been briefed by said government two weeks ago, with the line that Crosby had been hired to “knock the barnacles” off this year’s policy program, to help the Tories focus on their core issues — that is, not sinking like a stone.

Ed Miliband rounded out the day by nominating the issues as the Tories next big scandal. Crosby, hired for a mozza to make things better, appears to have become the story. Sign over all your worldly goods to Crosby Textor today, and you too can be this successful.

Peter Fray

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