After months of will he/won’t he, Lynton Crosby has decided to join the Cameron clan. The Sunday Telegraph reports that the Australian strategist behind Boris’ two victories has signed up as a consultant to run David Cameron’s re-election campaign. The efforts to secure his return were described in the political column in this week's Spectator:
'Later this month, George Osborne and two of the Prime Minister’s most senior political aides — Stephen Gilbert and Andrew Cooper — will sit down with Lynton Crosby to see if a command structure for the election campaign can be worked out. Conservative high command is keen to bring Crosby, the man who oversaw Boris Johnson’s elections as London Mayor, on board. They believe that the Australian would provide the discipline and clarity that were so lacking from the 2010 campaign.'
Although the details of exactly what Crosby will do are not yet clear, the strategist will be advising on a part-time basis starting in 2013. This may develop into a broader role as the election nears. How much control Crosby will have over George Osborne remains to be seen; but some form of command structure must have been agreed if he said yes.
The decision to bring in Crosby is a significant one for the Prime Minister. Yesterday, I examined why the Australian would make a positive contribution to Cameron’s team, but also noted the cultural and political differences between the pair. Peter Oborne said in the past there is no need for the Prime Minister to hire Crosby and warned against taking a ‘lurch off the right’. Oborne warned the move would ‘puzzle the electorate; it would be untrue to the Prime Minister’s political vision, and deeply inauthentic’.
Hiring an outsider is an admission from the Prime Minister that the status quo must change if he wishes to remain in No.10. Crosby will no doubt run a tighter election ship and ensure that Cameron delivers a tougher message.