[Update at end of post]
Recently I noted the appearance on Twitter of antipodean spinmeister Lynton Crosby, and then yesterday came news that the Tory campaign to get Bozza re-elected Mayor of London was paying its volunteers nothing – not even travel or expenses – as well as sponging off the taxpayer for its advertising. Crosby has, though, not been deterred, neither by his clumsiness, nor Bozza’s.
And he isn’t the only one spinning for the occasional Mayor: the Maily Telegraph’s “London Editor” Andrew Gilligan has dutifully chipped in another propaganda piece, this one doing the damage limitation following his man’s less than stellar performance at yesterday’s Age UK hustings, where Ken Livingstone had it all to do with an audience that should have favoured his main opponent.
Opinion polls, after all, have Bozza well ahead with the over-60s. But even Gilligan conceded that Ken had come out on top. Over at the deeply subversive Guardian, Dave Hill reckoned Bozza had been given a “spanking”. So Gilligan had to spin this, which he duly did: these events didn’t really matter. Those who attended “don’t have much in common with ordinary voters” as they’re “activists”.
Yeah, right. But he does touch on one problem for Bozza, that “some of his lines felt like they’d been written by other people” and were “standard political attack lines, not quite his voice”. Nothing gets past our Andy. That’s because Bozza is being briefed by Crosby, and what Lynt is cramming into the occasional Mayor is the usual dog-whistle stuff, some of which, to judge from Twitter, verges on the dishonest.
Lynt began his spinning by talking up Bozza’s pronouncement on the Freedom Pass (pity he called the host organisation “Aged UK”), but then came the dog whistle: “Imagine Ken losing millions like he wasted at LDA”. As I said before, that’s potentially very risky, given Bozza’s millions sprayed up the wall on BozzaMasters, cable cars and support for that cycle scheme.
Things don’t improve as Lynt spins on “affordable housing”. Bozza isn’t anywhere near 50,000 homes yet – it was a promise, and no more – while Ken managed around 37,500 and 50,000 respectively in his two terms (h/t Londonist).
Then come Police numbers, where Crosby gets himself in an awful muddle. Intending to claim an increase in 1,000 for Bozza, he first tells “up 1,000 under Ken”, before correcting himself. Bit of a Freudian slip – the increase came in Bozza’s first year and was down to Ken’s last budget (h/t Full Fact).
All in all, Crosby and Gilligan are the kind of “double act from hell” that Bozza could do without. But they’re probably convinced that they’re right. In any case, Ken Livingstone will be rather pleased with himself right now.
[UPDATE 23 February 1300 hours: ConservativeHome is repeating the claim of 1,000 extra Police officers in its Local Government blog, in a post not credited but under the editorship of the appropriately named Harry Phibbs, another of those Hammersmith and Fulham councillors.
Phibbs does not mention that the big rise in Police numbers (see above) came in Bozza's first year and was down to Ken's last budget. No surprise there]