By Tim Montgomerie
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Last week unemployment fell, employment rose.
Crime fell again.
The deficit numbers were better than expected.
Theresa May – to public acclaim – stopped the extradition of Gary McKinnon, fulfilling a pre-election Tory promise. Yes: Politician. Delivers. Promise.
But yesterday's newspapers looked like this:
Norman Tebbit is largely right in his article for today's Observer. The public wouldn't mind 'toffs' running the country if the country was being run well. There's a perception that it isn't being run well. This is deadly for any government but particularly for a Conservative government. Voters don't always think our hearts are in the right place but they vote for us as the hard-headed party when the country needs rescuing. As the facts at the top of this blogpost suggest, the rescue mission is making progress but few people know about it.
If Number 10 Downing Street wants to get things on the right track they should study this Sydney Morning Herald article from Mark Textor, listing ten tips on surviving and winning political campaigns. One lesson stands out to me:
"Ignore media commentators and stick to your part of the plan. Especially ignore their strategy, marketing poll interpretations. There are almost no former journalists who have been successful campaign managers. This is because they are tactically focused on Monday morning's headlines and not the long-term strategy required to get a consistent and, critically, a salient message to the public."
This is what David Cameron needs; a long-term strategist who focuses on the big picture aims of the Coalition and ensures they are communicated in the best and most persuasive ways. Who should do that for this Prime Minister? I suggest Lynton Crosby. Crosby is the business partner of Mark Textor, the author of the article linked to above. He runs a successful business and will be expensive to hire but the Conservative Party needs him and needs him desperately.
I say this as someone who has some doubts about some of Lynton Crosby's tactics. I thought he was part of a 2005 Tory general election campaign (he was the campaign manager under Michael Howard) that was too harsh. I agree with views purported to be held by Guto Harri that we didn't see enough of the real Boris Johnson at the last mayoral election. That campaign, overseen by Mr Crosby and his brilliant UK-based business partner Mark Fullbrook, was too negative and lacked a clear narrative. Overall, however, Lynton Crosby will bring discipline, clarity and the toughness to the Tory operation that, at present, is so sorely lacking. He quickly wins respect of staffers. He's the right man to develop the blue collar, compassionate pitch that David Cameron delivered ten days ago at the Tory Conference. Matthew Elliott (for external relations) and Mark Florman (for number 10 operations) should also be recruited but Crosby should be the number one priority. His appointment can't come soon enough.