Lynton Crosby

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Lynton Crosby

Lynton Keith Crosby

(1956-08-23) 23 August 1956 (age 66)
EducationUniversity of Adelaide (BEcon)
OccupationPolitical strategist
Political partyLiberal Party of Australia

Sir Lynton Keith Crosby AO (born 23 August 1956)[1][2] is an Australian political strategist who has managed election campaigns for right-of-centre parties in several countries.[3]

Crosby has been described as a "master of the dark political arts", "the Wizard of Oz", and "the Australian Karl Rove". In 2002, he was called "one of the most powerful and influential figures in the nation" by The Age.[2][4]

After graduating from the University of Adelaide, Crosby first became involved in politics with the Liberal Party of Australia, eventually being appointed federal director of the party in 1997. He oversaw the party's successful campaigns at the 1996, 1998, 2001, and 2004 federal elections, which made the Howard Government Australia's second-longest serving federal government. In 2002, Crosby left his formal position in the party to establish a consulting firm, the Crosby Textor Group.

Crosby first ventured into overseas politics at the 2005 United Kingdom general election, where he managed the Conservative Party's unsuccessful campaign. He has since also run Conservative campaigns for the 2008 and 2012 London mayoral elections, as well as the 2015 general election, all of which resulted in victories for the party. His campaign was not successful for the 2016 London mayoral election (which was won by the Labour candidate, Sadiq Khan)[5] and the 2017 general election in which the Conservatives remained the largest party but lost 13 seats and their parliamentary majority.[6]

Outside of Australia and the UK, Crosby has also served as an advisor for parties in Canada,[citation needed] New Zealand, and Sri Lanka. At the 2009 European Parliament elections, Crosby acted as a consultant for Libertas, a pan-European party opposed to the Treaty of Lisbon.

Early life and career

Crosby was born in Kadina, South Australia, and grew up in a rural area of the state, where his father Dudley Crosby worked as a cereal farmer and an arts and crafts shop-owner.[7] He studied economics at the University of Adelaide.[8]

Political career

Early career & Australia

Crosby started his career in 1976 as a market analyst with Golden Fleece Petroleum. He then moved into politics as a research assistant in 1978 for Senator Baden Teague. In 1980, Crosby became executive assistant to Harold Allison, then Minister of Education and Aboriginal Affairs. Crosby became executive assistant to Martin Cameron in 1992, then Leader of the Opposition in the South Australian Legislative Council. Between 1986 and 1991, Crosby held a number of corporate affairs positions in the Australian private sector.[citation needed]

At the 1982 South Australian election, Crosby unsuccessfully ran for the Liberals in the House of Assembly seat of Norwood. Suffering a 9.2 percent two-party swing compared to the statewide swing of 5.9 percent, he later joked that he "turned a marginal Labor seat into a safe Labor seat after campaigning there."[8]

In 1991, Crosby became state director for the Queensland division of the Liberal Party of Australia, and in 1994 the party's deputy federal director. He served under federal director Andrew Robb, until replacing him as federal director of the Liberal Party in May 1997. Crosby served as campaign director for the party at the 1996, 1998, 2001, and 2004 federal elections. In 1998, the government won with marginal seats (swing seats) targeted by Crosby. The election saw the smallest two-party-preferred margin win since 1949 estimates, on 49.02 percent.[citation needed]

In 2002, Crosby established an election consulting firm, the Crosby Textor Group (now C|T Group), with an associate, Mark Textor. As a result, he left his position with the Liberal Party. Crosby was also involved in setting up CT Financial, an investor relations and financial communications specialist consultancy, in 2006.[citation needed]

C|T Group and UK politics

Crosby managed the Conservative Party's 2005 United Kingdom general election campaign, but was unable to help leader Michael Howard defeat the incumbent Prime Minister Tony Blair.[8] During Crosby's time as campaign manager, the Conservative used attention grabbing slogans such as "It's Not Racist to Impose Limits on Immigration" and "How Would You Feel if a Bloke on Early Release Attacked Your Daughter?"[8]

Crosby was also appointed to run Conservative Boris Johnson's successful 2008 London mayoral election campaign, at a cost to the party of £140,000 for four months of work.[9]

In March 2009, it was announced that Crosby would direct the Europe-wide Libertas campaign for the June 2009 European Parliament elections.[10] Despite running 600 candidates, the movement only managed to get one MEP elected, and folded shortly after.[11]

In November 2012, Crosby sued Mike Kelly, an Australian parliamentary secretary for defence, for libel for alleging on Twitter that Crosby had used push polling.[12]

In July 2013, following the government's rejection of a plan to remove branding from cigarette packets, British Prime Minister David Cameron was urged by Liberal Democrat members of the governing coalition to sack Crosby as his chief election strategist because of Crosby's connection to the tobacco industry.[13] Liberal Democrat MP Paul Burstow was quoted as saying: "Lynton Crosby cannot remain at the heart of government while he is also serving the interests of the tobacco industry. If he does not go, the Prime Minister should sack him."[13] In July 2013, it was reported in The Guardian and elsewhere that Crosby Textor, the company which he co-founded (which is known as CTF Partners in the UK) had advised private healthcare providers on how to exploit perceived "failings" in the National Health Service in 2010. Crosby issued The Guardian with a legal challenge over their reporting.[14] The issue resurfaced in mainstream news sources a few days before the 2015 UK general election.[15][16]

In 2014, it was revealed that having been hired in 2012 by Philip Morris International, maker of Marlboro cigarettes, Crosby lobbied Lord Marland, then parliamentary undersecretary for intellectual property and a former Conservative party treasurer, to oppose the introduction of plain packaging on cigarettes.[17] This revelation came in papers released under the Freedom of Information Act by the Intellectual Property Office.[17] According to investigative journalist Nicky Hager, Crosby was an adviser to the former Prime Minister of New Zealand, John Key.[18]

During the 2015 Sri Lankan parliamentary election, Crosby was an advisor to incumbent Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, whose United National Front captured a plurality of seats and formed a governing coalition along with President Maithripala Sirisena's Sri Lanka Freedom Party.[19] The campaign featured widespread adverts that contrasted "good governance" offered by the incumbent Prime Minister with the "jungle law" of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, whose ten-year rule was marked by family corruption and strident nationalism after the 2009 defeat of the Tamil Tigers.[19] In September, Canadian press linked Crosby to the Canadian Conservative Party, with reports suggesting he was working as a strategist during the election.[20] Both Crosby and his partner rejected claims Crosby or anyone at CT Group was involved in the Canadian election.[21]

In December 2015, it was announced that Crosby was to be included in the Queen's New Year Honours list and would receive his knighthood for his political services.[22] Members of the Labour party were critical of the move,[23] with opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn even threatening to overhaul the British honours system if he was ever elected.[24]

After the European Union referendum of 2016 had been won by Leave, led by Johnson and Michael Gove, David Cameron resigned as party leader and Gove told Johnson he would support him for the leadership. Johnson at once launched a leadership campaign, which was run by Crosby and Ben Wallace. However, a week later, on 30 June 2016, Gove announced that he was running himself, and Johnson withdrew.[25]

In April 2017, Prime Minister Theresa May announced that Crosby would play a leading role in the Conservatives' campaign for the 2017 general election, which May had called early.[26] May failed to secure an outright Conservative majority and author Hannah Jane described Crosby as running a "disastrous, horrendously negative campaign".[27]

On 3 October 2017, during the Conservative Party Conference, it was reported that Amber Rudd had hired Crosby, amid speculation that she was planning to launch a bid for leadership of the party.[28][29]

In 2018, Crosby allegedly contacted Boris Johnson in an attempt to force a leadership battle against Prime Minister Theresa May in order to "destroy" her flagship Brexit policy, which he viewed as a betrayal of the Brexit voters. It has also been suggested by the press that his opposition to Theresa May's deal was "revenge" for Theresa May blaming her losses at the 2017 general election on him.[30][31]

In 2019, The Guardian announced it had seen documents revealing that multiple outwardly independent groups behind adverts on Facebook promoting a hard Brexit are administrated by employees of Lynton Crosby's lobbying firm, CTF Partners.[32]


Crosby is described as favouring what is called a wedge strategy, whereby the party he advises introduces a divisive or controversial social issue into a campaign, aligning its own stance with the dissenting faction of its opponent party, with the goal of causing vitriolic debate inside the opposing party, defection of its supporters, and the legitimising of sentiment which had previously been considered inappropriate. This is also described as "below the radar" or dog-whistle campaigning. Crosby has combined this with the targeting of marginal constituencies and highly localised campaigning, latching on to local issues and personalities.[2] To find such divisive and potentially deflecting issues, Crosby's business partner Mark Textor runs focus groups to find which groups to target with what questions.[33] Crosby is said to run a tight ship, focus on simple messages, target marginal constituencies and use lots of polls.[4]

Dead cat theory

In a 2013 article for The Daily Telegraph, Boris Johnson noted that one of Crosby's tactics when losing an argument because the facts are against you was to do the equivalent of "throwing a dead cat on the table": bring up an issue you want to talk about that draws widespread attention from the populace, forcing opponents to also talk about your new issue instead of the previous issue.[34] According to the Guardian, Michael Fallon was the implementer of the strategy in the 2015 when he accused Ed Miliband of preparing to drop Trident as part of a deal with the Scottish National Party at a moment when the Labour party were starting to pull ahead in the polls.[35]

Personal life

Crosby is married to Dawn Heinrich, an Australian, with whom he has two adult daughters: Tara and Emma.[7] Crosby and his wife are UK residents.[8] South Australian farmer and businessman John Crosby is his cousin.


In 2005, Crosby was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (postnominals AO), for "service to politics".[36] He had previously received the Australian government's Centenary Medal, for "service to Australian society through politics".[37]

Crosby was knighted in the UK's 2016 New Year Honours "for political service".[38][39][40] The honour sparked criticism from figures in the Labour Party and Liberal Democrats, who accused Cameron's government of engaging in political cronyism.[41]

Crosby's supporters note that Spencer Livermore, a strategist for the Labour Party, had been awarded a life peerage earlier in the year.[42][43]

See also


  1. ^ Who's Who in Australia 2015, ConnectWeb.
  2. ^ a b c Brian Wheeler (16 November 2004). "Howard's wizard of Oz". BBC News. Retrieved 2 May 2008.
  3. ^ Watt, Nicholas (28 January 2005). "The Guardian profile: Lynton Crosby". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 21 April 2013.
  4. ^ a b "Pass notes No 3,171: Lynton Crosby". The Guardian. 7 May 2012. Retrieved 9 September 2012.
  5. ^ "It's Lynton Crosby who made Zac Goldsmith's campaign so nasty – and now he's being knighted". Independent. 6 May 2016. Retrieved 3 June 2016.
  6. ^ "Crosby's textbook". Private Eye. London: Pressdram Ltd. 16 June 2017.
  7. ^ a b "Can this South Australian save the UK Tories?".
  8. ^ a b c d e Tu Thanh Ha (11 September 2015). "Who is Lynton Crosby, the 'master of dark arts' now behind Harper's campaign?". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 5 October 2015.
  9. ^ Oliver, Jonathan; Oakeshott, Isabel (4 May 2008). "Onward Tory soldiers". The Times. London, UK. Retrieved 12 May 2010.
  10. ^ Mary Fitzgerald, "Australian strategist to lead Libertas campaign", The Irish Times, 24 March 2009. Retrieved 24 March 2009.
  11. ^ Crosbie, Judith. "Libertas's Ganley concedes defeat in Irish contest". Retrieved 20 June 2013.
  12. ^ Boffey, Daniel (12 May 2013). "David Cameron's head of strategy sues Australian minister for libel". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 May 2013.
  13. ^ a b Toby Helm; Jamie Doward (13 July 2013). "David Cameron told to sack strategy chief over link to tobacco giants". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 July 2013.
  14. ^ "Tory strategist Lynton Crosby in new lobbying row".
  15. ^ "Firm run by Lynton Crosby calls for 'more private healthcare'". Politics Home.
  16. ^ "Labour calls on Tories to 'come clean' over Lynton Crosby". ITV.
  17. ^ a b Doward, Jamie (6 September 2014). "Conservative election guru Lynton Crosby lobbied minister over tobacco". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 September 2014.
  18. ^ Hager, Nicky (3 June 2009). ""Crosby v Hager": defamation proceedings used as a political weapon". Retrieved 16 March 2015.
  19. ^ a b Crabtree, James (18 August 2015). "New era for Sri Lanka as Rajapaksa loses". Financial Times. Archived from the original on 11 December 2022. Retrieved 5 October 2015.
  20. ^ "NDP in reach of majority, new poll suggests – Toronto Star". Toronto Star.
  21. ^ Danny Bradbury (22 October 2015). "Lynton Crosby 'bemused' at reports of involvement in Canadian elections". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 30 January 2016.
  22. ^ "A knighthood for Lynton Crosby: government under fire for political honours". The Guardian. 30 December 2015.
  23. ^ "New Year Honours 2016: Lynton Crosby knighthood criticised by Labour". BBC News. 31 December 2015.
  24. ^ Perring, Rebecca (4 January 2016). "Corbyn to slash 'outdated' British honours system over cronyism fears and Empire links". Daily Express.
  25. ^ Andrew Gimson, "Profile: Ben Wallace, one of Johnson’s Long Marchers, and a traditional but also irreverent Defence Secretary", ConservativeHome, 26 January 2021, accessed 8 July 2022
  26. ^ Swinford, Steven (19 April 2017). "Sir Lynton Crosby – aka The Wizard of Oz – to play key role in Theresa May's election campaign". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 1 June 2017.
  27. ^ Parkinson, Hannah Jane. "Lynton Crosby isn't a genius – and five other lessons the election taught us". Retrieved 10 June 2017.
  28. ^ Fisher, Lucy; Elliott, Francis (3 October 2017). "Amber Rudd hires Tory pollster Lynton Crosby amid talk of bid for leadership". The Times.(subscription required)
  29. ^ "Send for Lynton! Is calling in Crosby proof that Amber Rudd wants to be PM?". The Guardian. 3 October 2017.
  30. ^ Shipman, Tim (2 September 2018). "Theresa May's election boss Lynton Crosby tries to scupper her Brexit deal". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 6 September 2018.
  31. ^ "Wizard's curse". Private Eye. No. 1478. 7 September 2018. p. 6.
  32. ^ Waterson, Jim (3 April 2019). "'Grassroots' Facebook Brexit ads secretly run by staff of Lynton Crosby firm". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 April 2019.
  33. ^ Julian Glover (2 May 2008). "The Jeeves to Johnson's Bertie Wooster: the man who may have got him elected". The Guardian. UK. Retrieved 2 May 2008.
  34. ^ Solomon, Evan. "The dead cat on the 2015 campaign trail". Maclean's. Retrieved 5 October 2015.
  35. ^ "Will Michael Fallon's dead cat strategy work on Sadiq Khan?". The Guardian. 2 March 2016. Retrieved 10 June 2017.
  36. ^ CROSBY, Lynton Keith (Officer of the Order of Australia) – It's An Honour. Retrieved 29 December 2015.
  37. ^ CROSBY, Lynton Keith (Centenary Medal) – It's An Honour. Retrieved 29 December 2015.
  38. ^ (28 December 2015). Lynton Crosby: Australian political strategist tipped to receive knighthood – ABC News. Retrieved 29 December 2015.
  39. ^ "No. 61450". The London Gazette (Supplement). 30 December 2015. p. N2.
  40. ^ "New Year's Honours 2016 list" (PDF). Government of the United Kingdom. 30 December 2015. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  41. ^ (27 December 2015). "'Knighthood' for Lynton Crosby, Australian political strategist, under fire in United Kingdom"The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 29 December 2015.
  42. ^ "Of course Lynton Crosby deserves a knighthood"The Spectator. Retrieved 29 December 2015.
  43. ^ "New Year's Honours: A knighthood for Lynton Crosby marks new low for the honours system". The Independent. 30 December 2015.

External links