Mark Textor

Master strategist with the common touch

There is an excellent article about Lynton Crosby in The Telegraph that explains why int he UK and here in New Zealand Labour goes out of its way to attack both Lynton Crosby as well as Mark Textor. Simply put it is because they are good, and way better than anything they can put up.

There is a dirty little secret at the heart of the “scandal” surrounding the Tories’ political strategist Lynton Crosby. But it’s not a conspiracy of silence at the heart of No 10, nor is it a tale of undue influence exercised over politicians to gain advantage for commercial clients. It’s the plain fact that Crosby is actually pretty good at his job.

Just look at how he defused the furore around the Government’s decision not to proceed with plain packaging for cigarettes. Crisply, clearly and definitively, he ruled out any suggestion he had exerted influence; he ruthlessly drew a line under the crisis. What a contrast with David Cameron, whose carefully constructed denials of conversations with Crosby reeked of evasion. No 10 are sticking to the line that the Prime Minister did not want to get into a frenzied scenario in which his every statement was met by journalists with another question. No doubt that was the main motivation, but another one will have been the view that this was another crisis that could be muddled through. The result? A growing sense that murky answers meant mucky business.

The first rule of crisis management is full disclosure. The truth may not set you free, but nothing less gives you a chance. The second rule is that if the facts are going to come out, get them out in one go – don’t let them be dragged from you. No 10 failed, and forced Crosby to give them a masterclass in effective communications,

Has the affair damaged the Australian strategist? Back-room operators are meant to have a low profile, leaving the public stage to their principals. Indeed, it is often said that if they become the story then they have to leave the show. A swift exit means a swift end to a story. This has prompted a change in political attacks. Opponents have calculated that if they can force an effective staffer or consultant out into the open then that person will, in the end, have to go.   Read more »

Hire Lynton Crosby Now!

Tim Montgomerie at Conservative Home implores the Tory party to hire Lynton Crosby now:

Last week unemployment fell, employment rose.

Inflation fell.

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:

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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.

Confronting Islam

Mark Textor calls our leaders cowards, for not confronting militant Islam:

Returning home from a long and tiring training ride on Saturday, I was confronted by the aftermath of the Islamic violence in Sydney’s Hyde Park. A friend who also witnessed the aftermath described groups of young protesters seemingly quite happy after a “weekend outing of police bashing” in the name of a prophet.

These actions are disturbing, yet our politicians have not condemned them in anything but a generic way. There’s an unwillingness to tackle the elephant in the room. Many would see it as a failure to defend our values and condemn alternative ones. This is weakness.

It is another example of political and business elites growing adrift from the commonsense values of Australians. Last week, for example, billionaire Kerry Stokes said he was “physically repulsed’’ by the presence of US troops on Australian soil. This from a man I admire as a true patriot. Yet most Australians would not share his views on China. Many would see it as a weakening of our hallowed defence alliance with the US. Nor did any of Stokes’s peers care to differ. This too is weakness.

Similar criticisms were made about the United States President’s weak response to the American deaths in Libya last week. US columnist Mark Steyn wrote “On a highly symbolic date, mobs storm American diplomatic facilities and drag the corpse of a US ambassador through the streets.

“Then the President flies to Vegas for a fundraiser . . . ”. Again: weakness.

I’m sure many, in weakness, would like to wish away this tension and have the world at peace. But Australians know that what we value must be fought for and protected.

Former US president Ronald Reagan said this best in 1983: “We know peace is the condition under which mankind was meant to flourish. Yet peace does not exist of its own will. It depends on us, on our courage to build it and guard it and pass it on to future generations.”

Now this peace is threatened by what military experts see as an asymmetric threat “grown on a foundation of instability and religious extremism” that has “leveraged technology, strategiccommunications, and divergent Western policies and priorities to enhance both its credibility and efficacy”.

Our “policies and priorities” – our values –must therefore be very clear. And they must be defended, not compromised in the name of a fictional, temporary appeasement.

In praise of civility

One look no further for the stark contrast between John Key and the Labour party than simple good manners. Mark Textor, yes that Mark Textor, has written about the difference good manners and civility makes in politics:

Either way what has been missing in recent years is what our mothers used to call “good manners”. I mention this because the one universal trait I have witnessed in the truly successful political and business leaders I’ve met is courtesy and civility.

I have found manners to be the clearest window into the character of people. Why?

Don Argus was fond of making a cup of tea for his guests. Finding the time to make a cup of tea for people demonstrates that he was not “hassled”, that his office was running efficiently enough that he had the time for this simple courtesy. It demonstrated that he was not overwhelmed by being the CEO of one of Australia’s largest banks.

John Howard would always make a genuine inquiry about someone’s interests or the health of their family. In doing so he was demonstrating that he was not self-centered, that he was genuinely interested in what was going on outside his prime ministerial cocoon. In doing so he was also signalling that his time with them was an important investment for him, earning loyalty and respect. In fact on one occasion a colleague brought his two young boys in for a quick snap with the then PM, but ended up leaving 45 minutes later after Howard had given the boys a personal tour of his office, shared tea and biscuits and discussed the rugby and sports with them. Given that this happened the afternoon before a state reception for the Queen, the effort was pretty extraordinary, and importantly, never forgotten by the colleague.

And a warning for New Zealand politicians:

Former New Zealand National Party leader Don Brash, in his past life, was fond of tapping away on his smart phone while in meetings. This sent a signal at a very personal level to many he met that he was not prepared to listen, and his commitments to them and indeed to the country were formed not on the basis of understanding but of ideology and tactics.