Lynton Crosby

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Sir Lynton Crosby
Lynton Crosby Political Strategist.jpg
Born Lynton Keith Crosby
(1956-08-23) 23 August 1956 (age 59)
Kadina, South Australia
Nationality  Australia
Alma mater University of Adelaide
Occupation Political strategist
Awards Officer of the Order of Australia
Knight Bachelor
Centenary Medal

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 UK general election, where he managed the Conservative Party's unsuccessful UK 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. Outside of Australia and the UK, Crosby has also served as an advisor for parties in Canada, New Zealand, and Sri Lanka. At the 2009 European Parliament elections, Crosby acted as a consultant for Libertas, a pan-European party.

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.[5] He read economics at the University of Adelaide.[6]

Political career


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 the 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 state-wide swing of 5.9 percent, he later joked that he "turned a marginal Labor seat into a safe Labor seat after campaigning there."[6]

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 a election consulting firm, the Crosby Textor 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]

In November 2012 Crosby sued Mike Kelly, the parliamentary secretary for defence, for libel for alleging on Twitter that Crosby had used push polling.[7]

United Kingdom

Crosby managed the Conservative Party's 2005 United Kingdom general election campaign but was unable to help Michael Howard defeat Tony Blair.[6] 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?"[6]

Crosby was also appointed to run (the successful) Conservative Boris Johnson's London 2008 Mayoral election campaign, at a cost to the party of £140,000 for four months of work.[8] The Daily Mail alleged that Crosby had urged Johnson to focus his campaign on traditional Tory voters instead of "fucking Muslims," but Crosby later said through a spokesperson that he had no memory of using that phrasing.[6]

In March 2009 it was announced that Crosby would direct the Europe-wide Libertas campaign for the June 2009 European Parliament elections.[9] Despite running 600 candidates, the movement only managed to get one MEP elected, and folded shortly after.[10]

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.[11] 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."[11] 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 NHS' in 2010. Crosby issued The Guardian with a legal challenge over their reporting.[12][13] The issue resurfaced in mainstream news sources a few days before the 2015 UK General Election.[14][15]

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.[16] This revelation came in papers released under the Freedom of Information Act by the Intellectual Property Office.[16]

New Zealand

According to investigative journalist Nicky Hager, Crosby is an adviser to the Prime Minister of New Zealand, John Key.[17]

Sri Lanka

During the August 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.[18] 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.[18]


In early September 2015, partway through the 2015 Canadian federal election, Crosby was brought on as a campaign strategist for incumbent Prime Minister Stephen Harper, whose Conservative party fell to third place in the polls, behind both the Liberal Party and the New Democratic Party.[19][20]

Crosby's decision to use identity politics, publicizing the issue of a small group of Muslim woman refusing to remove their niqab when swearing the Canadian oath of citizenship, made the niqab one of the key issues of the campaign. This appeared to reverse sliding poll numbers for the Conservatives in Quebec, where their polling numbers rose at the expense of the NDP.[21][22][23] Nationally, the strength of the NDP in Quebec had been the main threat to slowly rising Liberal support elsewhere, by left-leaning strategic voters intent on the defeat of Harper's Conservatives,[24][25] who would ridicule the issue as a shabby electoral manipulation.[26] Raising an anti-muslim or xenophobic moral panic thus hurt the national spoiler party of the political left when the NDP adopted a tolerant specific policy which divided and diminshed their support in Quebec, to the benefit of the Liberals nationally which used more familiar and generally inclusive messaging to Canadians. Four days before the election, ThinkPol reported that Crosby had left the Harper campaign, whose polling numbers had once again fallen behind those of Justin Trudeau's Liberal Party.[20]

The Liberals went on to win a majority government in what was described as a "stunning rout",[21][27] reminiscent of the recently prior PQ loss to the Quebec Liberals provincially, where identity politics had also been used to unintended disadvantage.[28] The party's increase of 148 seats from the previous election was the largest-ever numerical increase by a party in a Canadian election.[29]

While as shown above, a number of sources have linked Crosby to Harper's campaign, Crosby says he has never been involved with political campaigns in Canada. The Crosby Textor consulting firm has stated that neither Lynton Crosby nor anyone else in the firm was involved in the Canadian general election campaign, nor traveled to Canada during the campaign.[30]


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, with the targeting of marginal constituencies with 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.[31] Crosby is said to run a tight ship, focus on simple messages, target marginal constituencies and use lots of polls.[4]

In a 2013 article for The Daily Telegraph, Boris Johnson noted that one of Crosby's tactics when losing an argument and having the facts 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.[21]

Personal life

Crosby is married to his wife Dawn née Hands, an Australian, with whom he has two adult daughters: Tara and Emma. Sir Lynton and Lady Crosby are UK residents.[6]


In 2005, Crosby was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (postnominals AO), for "service to politics".[32] He had previously received the Australian government's Centenary Medal, for "service to Australian society through politics".[33]

Crosby was knighted in the UK's 2016 New Year Honours "for political service".[34][35][36] The honour sparked criticism from figures in the Labour Party and Liberal Democrats, who accused Cameron's government of engaging in political cronyism.[37] Defenders of Crosby noted that Spencer Livermore, a strategist for the Labour Party, had been awarded a life peerage earlier in the year.[38][39]


  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: Guardian Media Group. Retrieved 21 April 2013. 
  4. ^ a b "Pass notes No 3,171: Lynton Crosby". The Guardian. 7 May 2012. Retrieved 9 September 2012. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b c d e f Tu Thanh Ha (11 September 2015). "Who is Lynton Crosby, the ‘master of dark arts’ now behind Harper's campaign?". Globe and Mail. Retrieved 5 October 2015. 
  7. ^ Boffey, Daniel (12 May 2013). "David Cameron's head of strategy sues Australian minister for libel". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 May 2013. 
  8. ^ Oliver, Jonathan; Oakeshott, Isabel (4 May 2008). "Onward Tory soldiers". The Times (London, UK). Retrieved 12 May 2010. 
  9. ^ Mary Fitzgerald, "Australian strategist to lead Libertas campaign", Irish Times, 24 March 2009. Retrieved 24 March 2009.
  10. ^ Crosbie, Judith. "Libertas's Ganley concedes defeat in Irish contest". Retrieved 20 June 2013. 
  11. ^ 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. 
  12. ^ "Tory strategist Lynton Crosby in new lobbying row". 
  13. ^ "Tory election strategist Lynton Crosby 'told private healthcare firms how to exploit NHS failings'". The Daily Mail. 
  14. ^ "Firm run by Lynton Crosby calls for 'more private healthcare'". Politics Home. 
  15. ^ "Labour calls on Tories to 'come clean' over Lynton Crosby". ITV. 
  16. ^ a b Doward, Jamie (6 September 2014). "Conservative election guru Lynton Crosby lobbied minister over tobacco". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 September 2014. 
  17. ^ Hager, Nicky (3 June 2009). ""Crosby v Hager": defamation proceedings used as a political weapon". Retrieved 16 March 2015. 
  18. ^ a b Crabtree, James (18 August 2015). "New era for Sri Lanka as Rajapaksa loses". Financial Times. Retrieved 5 October 2015. 
  19. ^ Payton, Laura (10 September 2015). "For campaign magic, Harper turns to a wizard from Oz". Maclean's. Retrieved 10 September 2015. 
  20. ^ a b Dimshaw, Fram (15 October 2015). "Lynton Crosby ditches Harper's flailing campaign". National Observer. Retrieved 16 October 2015. 
  21. ^ a b c Solomon, Evan. "The dead cat on the 2015 campaign trail". Maclean's. Retrieved 5 October 2015. 
  22. ^ Hamilton, Graeme (8 October 2015). "Conservatives surging in Quebec as NDP fades over niqab issue". National Post. Retrieved 15 October 2015. 
  23. ^ Muise, Monique (14 October 2015). "Economy, not niqab, top of mind for voters on election day: Ipsos poll". Global News. Retrieved 16 October 2015. 
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^ Austen, Ian (19 October 2015). "Justin Trudeau and Liberal Party Prevail With Stunning Rout in Canada". New York Times. Retrieved 20 October 2015. 
  28. ^
  29. ^ "2015 Election Results by Elections Canada: the independent, non-partisan agency responsible for conducting federal elections and referendums". Retrieved 27 December 2015. 
  30. ^ Danny Bradbury (October 22, 2015). "Lynton Crosby 'bemused' at reports of involvement in Canadian elections". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 30 January 2016. 
  31. ^ Julian Glover (2 May 2008). "The Jeeves to Johnson's Bertie Wooster: the man who may have got him elected". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 May 2008. 
  32. ^ CROSBY, Lynton Keith (Officer of the Order of Australia) – It's An Honour. Retrieved 29 December 2015.
  33. ^ CROSBY, Lynton Keith (Centenary Medal) – It's An Honour. Retrieved 29 December 2015.
  34. ^ (28 December 2015). Lynton Crosby: Australian political strategist tipped to receive knighthood – ABC News. Retrieved 29 December 2015.
  35. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 61450. p. N2. 30 December 2015.
  36. ^ "New Year’s Honours 2016 list" (pdf). GOV.UK. 30 December 2015. Retrieved 30 December 2015. 
  37. ^ (27 December 2015). "'Knighthood' for Lynton Crosby, Australian political strategist, under fire in United Kingdom"The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 29 December 2015.
  38. ^ "Of course Lynton Crosby deserves a knighthood"The Spectator. Retrieved 29 December 2015.
  39. ^ "New Year's Honours: A knighthood for Lynton Crosby marks new low for the honours system". The Independent. 

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