Now this may sound a little silly*, but if you think like Malcolm Turnbull and act like Malcolm Turnbull, then there’s a very good chance that you’ll end up like Malcolm Turnbull – and have a bad time.
Of all the strategic blunders made by Theresa May, her decision to hire Turnbull’s failed election campaign adviser to help run her campaign (with fellow ‘guru’ Sir Lynton Crosby) was arguably the most significant.
You know, the same adviser who said this during Turnbull’s 2016 campaign:
“The qualitative evidence is they don’t matter,’’ Mr Textor said. “The sum of a more centrist approach outweighs any alleged marginal loss of so-called base voters.’’
Yes, that one.
Textor strikes again
For reasons not readily apparent, May agreed to implement the Textor-Turnbull election campaign system – a curious system under which the decision making prowess of a teenage girl running away from Jason Vorhees is employed on as many major campaign decisions as possible.
In its latest hit out, the Textor-Turnbull system included the following strokes of genius, coming straight out of the manual:
- Give everyone plenty of time to see that implementing Brexit won’t be a walk in the park. Allow further time for doubts about the process to fester. Then, just before you can make any tangible progress, call a snap election THREE YEARS before your term expires based on… (wait for it) implementing Brexit! When the other side is more than happy to let you do this to the tune of a 522-13 parliamentary vote – despite the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 – then you’ll know that you’re definitely on a winner.
- Foist an inexplicably long election campaign on everyone (seven weeks). This way, you’ll have more time to make mistakes and annoy as many voters as possible.
- Refuse to debate against one of the most hopeless debating opponents ever and let everyone else do so in your absence. Then, watch that opponent nail you on the point – which huge numbers of casual and swing voters will easily understand and relate to.
- Follow up your refusal to debate by dribbling complete nonsense (see below). It’s important to demonstrate that you are out of touch and completely unaware that:
- people love seeing a good fight on many levels and expect their leaders to fight for them;
- people get seriously annoyed when deprived of a good fight and will always blame the person running from the fight; and
- the head to head battle of ideas between leaders is one of the most important things in an election campaign and will be the only time countless casual and swing voters will ever pay attention to what you’re saying. Ever. (Think about that).
During the interview, a “Jeremy Corbyn from Islington” asked if Theresa May would appear in a live debate with him. She responded saying, “I don’t think people get much out of seeing politicians having a go at each other; I think people want to hear directly.” **
- Keep refusing to be interviewed. Patiently wait until the full amount of political damage has been done. Then, and only then, change your mind.
- Talk about, dither and terrify the elderly on social justice causes – because they don’t matter and there’s not enough of them to impact an election result:
May’s greatest mis-step was over social care. May wanted to introduce a system whereby care for the elderly would be paid for by the government selling their house after their death. Although the policy allowed for £100,000 ($128,500) to be kept for the person’s family, there was no cap on how much could be taken. If a house was worth £1m, for example, nine-tenths of that value could conceivably end up in the hands of the state rather than relatives.
- … and, whatever you do, don’t tell your cabinet what you’re doing – clarity is your enemy:
The tragedy of Mrs May’s social care proposal was that it was the right policy based on the right premise: that those who can afford to pay for their care should do so. It was a bold argument to bring to a political campaign: it could have been defended. Yet it emerges that no one in the cabinet had any warning about this policy, so no one was prepared for it. Mrs May has learned the hard way that a party leader needs to work with front-bench colleagues, rather than a couple of trusted advisers. Her failure to widen her circle (or triangle) of trust is her biggest single weakness. The ‘dementia tax’ debacle was the direct result.
- Overall, cynically make yourself a small target and communicate with as few people as possible.
Senior Conservatives said that she had made “fundamental strategic errors” and said that her closest aides should be “banished” from Downing Street.
They complained that the campaign had been centred around a “cult of personality” and “central control”, adding: “It has completely blown up in our face”.
Now where have we seen all this attempted before?
One can only assume that under the Textor-Turnbull system, it’s also mandatory to keep doing the exact same thing over and over again until you get a different result.
Keep going guys, I’m sure you’ve got Einstein covered.
Corbyn – a very dangerous man
All the more staggering is how May could have allowed such a shameless anarchist like Jeremy Corbyn to come so close.
Former man of the left, Nick Cohen, illustrated very early on the danger posed by Corbyn – and the eerie ease with which he became Labour’s leader:
‘Jeremy Corbyn did not become Labour leader because his friends in the Socialist Workers party organised a Leninist coup. Nor did the £3 click-activist day-trippers hand him victory. He won with the hearty and freely given support of ‘decent’ Labour members‘.
As for Corbyn himself:
- He’s got some friends in high places – like Iran:
And yes, thank you, I know all about the feebleness of Corbyn’s opponents. But the fact remains that the Labour party has just endorsed an apologist for Putin’s imperial aggression; a man who did not just appear on the propaganda channel of Russia, which invades its neighbours and persecutes gays, but also of Iran, whose hangmen actually execute gays. Labour’s new leader sees a moral equivalence between 9/11 and the assassination of bin Laden, and associates with every variety of women-hating, queer-bashing, Jew-baiting jihadi, holocaust denier and 9/11 truther. His supporters know it, but they don’t care’.
- He doesn’t appear to be a big fan of women:
‘A few on the British left are beginning to realise what they have done. Feminists were the first to stir from their slumber. They were outraged this week when Corbyn gave all his top jobs to men. I have every sympathy. But really, what did they expect from a man who never challenged the oppression of women in Iran when he was a guest on the state propaganda channel? You cannot promote equality at home while defending subjugation abroad and it was naive to imagine that Corbyn would try’.
- He’s definitely no patriot:
‘George Orwell wrote of the ‘English intellectual [who] would feel more ashamed of standing to attention during “God Save the King” than of stealing from a poor box’. That came to mind on Tuesday when Corbyn declined to sing ‘God Save the Queen’ at the Battle of Britain remembrance service’.
‘Mr Corbyn has made no secret of his desire to abolish the monarchy’.
- He has a socialist agenda that would make Julia Gillard blush (my favourite is the printing money one).
- Oh, and he likes Hamas and Hezbollah:
Lastly, isn’t it funny how voters seem to have this uncanny knack for weeding out leaders like these and giving neither a mandate to govern in their own right?
(*) Sneaky pun intended.
(**) PS: the following opinion of the Independent’s Sarah Arnold – regarding May’s refusal to debate – is pure comedy gold (trigger warning: bad grammar alert):
The Prime Minister is leagues ahead of Corbyn in the opinion polls; levels unseen since Margaret Thatcher’s day. Why would she risk this potentially landslide win to have a few digs at her rival live on TV when she could slip up and cut the percentage?
Theresa May is coasting to a memorable victory on 8 June – taking the time out of a hectic pre-election schedule to debate Jeremy Corbyn live will not benefit her, or any of us.