I’ve lost count of the number of times David Cameron has been asked by journalists if his decisions about cigarette packaging and alcohol pricing were influenced by his election campaign guru, Lynton Crosby aka The Lizard of Oz. I’m probably more sick of hearing him deny it than he is of making these repeated denials.
There’s no denying that its an amazing coincidence that these particular policies have now been dropped when you consider how much they were banging on about them not that long ago. So what exactly is the Prime Minister saying when he denies that he’s been lobbied by the Lizard? Have you considered he might be telling the truth? The literal truth.
Think about it. He said quite categorically that “Lynton Crosby has not lobbied me on anything”. So surely our next question should be “Then who else has been whispering your ear, Dave?” Lets not forget that the Lizard’s lobbying company has a London branch that goes by the name of Crosby Textor Fullbrook (CTF) and it was this outfit that was responsible for running Boris Johnson’s election campaign for London Mayor. And its now stuffed full of eager young Tories, most of whom worked within the government in some capacity or other until just before the Lizard was hired by Cameron. Now they work at CTF.
But first of all lets meet Mark Fullbrook, co-founder and MD of the Lizard’s London office, Crosby Textor Fullbrook
Mark spent 10 years working for the British Conservative Party from 1983, where he began as a Party Agent, rising to become Head of Campaigning for the Party following the 1992 General Election. He was co-director of the Conservative Campaign for London Mayor in 2000 and has worked through all levels of the Conservative Party’s political roles.
His wife is Tory MP for South Ribble, Lorraine Fullbrook.
The lucky recipient of the football tickets referred to in this shot was Tory MP Helen Grant, according to online journal Political Scrapbook and clearly CTF were working for the donor, the infamous Michael Hintze, who bankrolled Liam Fox’s dubious mate Adam Werrity and once paid for a private jet for Fox to visit the States. Mark Fullbrook was the bearer of the gift on behalf of his client. I’m sure none of us are naive enough to think that Mr Hintze was paying to hire CTF Partners and dole out his bribes without expecting some return on his money. The real point here, though, is that Lynton Crosby himself was not personally involved in the lobbying process, just as Cameron says he wasn’t involved in lobbying him. When Cameron says things like this he’s relying on our ignorance of the complexity of the lobbying process and our lack of understanding of the extent of the network of cronies that links Westminster to big business.
Mark Fullbrook is number one contender for the role of Cameron Whisperer.
Lets take a look at the recent additions to the staff of Crosby Textor Fullbrook.
Here’s David Canzini who joined CFT in 2012.
David spent 20 years working for the Conservative Party starting out as a constituency agent. After a number of constituency and regional roles he became Head of Campaigns and Operations for the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party where he led the devolution referendum campaign and the first set of Scottish Parliamentary elections. David moved to Conservative Central Office (latterly CCHQ) as Deputy Director of Field Operations (Target Seats) for the 2001 General Election. After two years in this role, he become Director of Party Campaigning, leading national campaigns, parliamentary by-elections and oversaw the target seat campaign for the 2005 General Election.
Not difficult to imagine that he might know David Cameron quite well, is it? So he’s Whisperer number two.
Now meet Theo Lomas who’s worked at CFT since 2011. His background is interesting in the light of the concerns that have been raised about the Lizard’s involvement in the fracking business. Theo worked in Parliament as the senior adviser to the Parliamentary Private Secretary for the UK’s Energy Minister. His responsibilities included: providing research and briefings, coordinating with senior figures in the Conservative Party and the Department of Energy and Climate Change, overseeing the Westminster Office, coordinating with the media and overseeing Parliamentary activities. Wonder if he swapped jobs with Guy Robinson who worked for CFT before moving across to Westminster to work for Owen Patterson?
Theo is definitely a strong contender for Cameron Whisperer.
Up next is Sophie Horrell who moved over from Westminster to CTF in 2011. Prior to this, she worked in communications at Parliamentary Liaison Services Ltd, the UK’s premier Conservative campaigns and communications consultancy providing communications services to a number of clients. This included working on a number of constituency based reports and grass roots campaigns for MP’s and Prospective Party Candidates. Maybe Sophie doesn’t have enough status yet to whisper directly into the PM’s ear but she may well know a few people who do, so I reckon she’s a potential Cameron Whisperer, a kind of whisperer in waiting.
There are a couple of other candidates who joined CFT within the last two years from Boris Johnson’s mayoral campaign office.
Sam Lyon joined in 2012 as a senior director. He joined from City Hall where he was Director of Communications and official spokesman to the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson. He managed all the Mayor’s external affairs during the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations and in the run up to the London 2012 Olympic Games. Previous to this he was Media Director, spokesman and senior advisor to Boris Johnson during his successful 2012 Mayoral campaign. As a senior advisor he was certainly a Johnson Whisperer so he’s well versed in the techniques and has all the right connections.
And here we have Robin Knight who also joined CTF in 2012 ,just a month before Cameron announced he’d taken on the Lizard, having previously worked on Boris Johnson’s winning London Mayoral campaign. His work focuses on research and consulting, developing detailed reports to inform and reinforce key arguments in line with campaign objectives. Like Sophie he’s a bit of a tyro as yet but none the less he’ll have useful connections within the Tory party so has a potential for whispering in all the right ears.
As the next election looms closer the Lizard’s team of young hopefuls are going to be doing a lot of whispering and we’re going to see a lot more examples of his dog whistle politics and slick slogans. When a lobbying firm that champions the causes of powerful businesses is putting words into the mouths of ‘elected’ politicians and when Westminster has become one big revolving door between government and the board rooms of profit seekers surely its time for a complete radical change of how this country does government? As Cameron himself is fond of saying, “We can’t go on like this”.