David Cameron, in his only job outside politics, once had a short spell as a PR man for Carlton, a TV company which coincidentally was swallowed by the ITV network after he had left its employ.
(I could at this point make a cheap crack comparing what he did for Carlton with what he’s currently doing for Britain – but I’ll resist the temptation).
Exactly a year ago, Cameron called in a PR professional, Australia’s Lynton Crosby, to be a ‘campaign consultant’ in a doomed attempt to re-brand his irrevocably tarnished image. Out went Dave’s previous guru, the ‘Hippy Hungarian’ Steve Hilton ( think bare feet and bicycles) and in came the hard-nosed ‘Wizard of Oz’.
Crosby’s CV includes the repeated re-election of one of his earlier clients, the conservative Australian Prime Minister John Howard, despite the fact that Howard was, in Crosby’s own colourful phrase ‘As dull as batshit’.
He repeated the trick on this side of the globe when he masterminded the election and re-election campaigns of Boris Johnson as Mayor of London – though he was less successful in 2005 in running the General Election campaign of another Howard – the Tory Michael Howard.
One of the tricks that has earned Crosby his formidable reputation is his employment of ‘dog whistle’ tactics : using coded language and hints to let voters know that candidates share their basic instincts, and even their deepest, darkest prejudices, even though they cannot express them openly.
For example, his slogan for Michael Howard’s failed 2005 campaign was ‘Are you thinking what we’re thinking?’ – subtly suggesting that Howard’s Tories shared voters’ worries about excessive immigration, and might even do something to curb it (even though, then as now, they had no real intention of doing so).
Since you can’t teach an old dingo dog like Lynton Crosby new tricks, he is repeating the tactics this time around for his new master Dave. That is why this week the Sun newspaper trumpeted the unlikely story that Cameron was going around 10, Downing Street proclaiming that it was high time to get rid of all the ‘Green crap’ (£).
There are several problems with this story beyond the obvious one that it has Crosby’s pawmarks all over it and is therefore, like most political PR, a million miles from the truth.
Problem number one is that Cameron, ever since the Tory party in its infinite wisdom made him their leader, has made a distinct point of personally identifying himself with ‘Green crap’ – indeed pouring the stuff all over him.
If memory serves, his slogan was ‘Vote Blue – Get Green’.
And who was that flabby-faced, pink-cheeked chap who made a flying visit to the frozen north for just enough time to cry ‘Mush!’ and get himself photographed hugging a huskie?
Now that ‘Green’ policies in practice have proved economically ruinous and electorally poisonous, leading to rocketing energy bills and rumblings among the voters who read The Sun newspaper, Dave – or rather Crosby – is asking us to believe that he’ll ditch them, even though thanks to his coalition agreement with his Liberal Democrat soulmates he can do no such thing.
Sorry Dave, sorry Lynton : it just won’t wash.
Green ‘crap’ with its attendant high energy bills and useless wind turbines is the very essence of Cameronism and although that past master of political PR, Dr Josef Goebbels said that if you have to tell a lie, you must make sure that its a big one, Sun readers and anyone else struggling to pay for their heating this winter will surely see through this one.
There is only one party which rejects the putrid LibLabCon Green agenda lock, stock and barrel and its the very one which Crosby was brought into Tory HQ to see off. It’s UKIP.
Nice try Lynton, but this time at least : no cigar.