Last week, the variously ill-informed punditry was telling anyone who would listen that things were bad for Mil The Younger, Labour did not “stand for” anything, and that the mythical knives were out, solely because of the tactical mastery of Lynton Crosby. But then came the “racist van”, which had his paw-prints all over it, and now news arrives of his decision to open a second front.
Look who's taking aim ...
Yes, Lynt is going to go after Nigel “Thirsty” Farage and his fellow saloon bar propper-uppers at UKIP. Or rather he isn’t: the talk is of a “below the radar” campaign, as if the radar of the punditry is incapable of scanning as low as the nearest sewer, which I have to tell him is a seriously misplaced assumption. So the latest Crosby wheeze has appeared in a number of papers over the weekend.
“He reportedly wanted to monitor all council meetings involving Ukip members and possibly to use third parties to brief the press, to distance the Tories from the campaign. He was also said to have talked about having a Right-wing Tory grandee such as MP Bill Cash fronting an assault on Ukip, which many Conservatives fear stands between David Cameron and re-election” fretted the Express.
... at this generously sized target
And so the Express might fret, given that the paper is also known as the Daily UKIP, with its chief political commentator Patrick “Lunchtime” O’Flynn having “come out” over his membership of the party. Now, Bill Cash is of sufficiently independent mind, and securely ensconced in his Stone constituency, to be able to tell Crosby to take his bonzer idea and shove it. But the rest rings true.
Take the Mail’s report: “In a meeting with a lobbying firm, he is said to have suggested monitoring the party’s 139 councillors and trying to catch them making embarrassing comments in council meetings – which would then be leaked to the press by third parties”. And, as this blog has pointed out, catching out UKIP councillors and candidates is in the “shelling peas” category.
All of which leads to the obvious conclusion: the Crosby strategy could be achieved just by watching for bloggers who have previously caught out UKIP’s more unreconstructed fringe to pick off more of their number. Add to that reports on council meetings anywhere UKIP has a more than token presence – that would be Lincolnshire – and there is his attack copy.
The difficult part is the “third parties” who will do the “leaking”. That will require someone with access to the media, plus a suitably generous use of non-attributable dosh to facilitate palm-greasing. Getting someone desperate enough for the dosh, and free of principle, is the easy bit. Not getting caught – that’s difficult. All of that makes this a highly risky strategy. But the Tories have to face down UKIP.
In the meantime, anyone else need only get the popcorn in and watch the fun.