04:21 GMT +318 November 2019
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    Leave UK Media Guru and Australian Spin Doctor at Heart of Boris Johnson’s Election Campaign

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    Campaigning is under way for the General Election on 12 December. Labour launched its campaign last week but the Tories are keeping their powder dry until Wednesday. Sputnik takes a look at who will be running their campaign.

    Paul Stephenson, who masterminded Vote Leave’s media strategy during the 2016 Brexit referendum, has arrived to join Boris Johnson’s election campaign team.

    Stephenson is taking unpaid leave from his consultancy firm, Hanbury Strategy, to help Johnson win the election and get a majority big enough for him to push his Brexit withdrawal bill through Parliament.

    ​The Sunday Times reported on 3 November Conservative Party pollsters are predicting Johnson could win a majority of up to 70 but are determined not to show the complacency that cost Theresa May so dearly when she called a snap election in 2017 and ended up losing her majority.

    The Tories’ election strategy this year is being led by Isaac Levido, an Australian political strategist.

    Boris Johnson’s key adviser Dominic Cummings reportedly told aides last week Levido was “100 times better at running campaigns than me.”

    ​Also in the Tory war room will be pollster Michael Brooks, nicknamed “Rain Man”, communications experts Lee Cain, Ben Mascall and Caroline Preston, and party aides Darren Mott, Iain Carter and Alan Mabbutt.

    They will be up against a deeply inexperienced Labour Party team led by Karie Murphy and Seamus Milne.

    ​Levido, 35, is a protege of Lynton Crosby, who masterminded Boris Johnson’s victories in the 2008 and 2012 London mayoral elections and followed it up by advising David Cameron in the run-up to the Tories’ win in 2015.

    Levido’s biggest success was in May this year when he helped the right-wing Liberal/National coalition under Scott Morrison stave off a strong challenge from Bill Shorten’s Labor Party in the Australian general election. Shorten resigned as the party’s leader a few days later.

    ​One unnamed Conservative MP told The Weekend Australian newspaper: “Isaac knows how to interpret the numbers, how to put in place the strategy from that information. It didn’t hurt that he was associated with the big win by Scott Morrison either, because over here that was seen as a big success, and we like winners.’’

    After the 2016 referendum - in which 52 percent of voters opted to leave the European Union - Stephenson, who later briefly worked on Michael Gove’s leadership campaign, said the key to their success was sticking to simple messages.

    He told PR Week magazine: “By the end of the referendum people were talking about our simple messages like the £350m a week figure and Turkey joining the EU, we used language people could use in the street or in the pub."

    Later the mantra that Brexit would save Britain £350 million a week, which could be reinvested in the NHS, was widely discredited and an attempt was even made to sue Johnson in the courts over it.

    ​The Tory campaign is expected to follow the narrative of “getting Brexit done” and Johnson will stick to his pledge to invest more money in the NHS, the police and infrastructure once Britain has exited the European Union.

    The Tories will formally launch their campaign on Wednesday, 6 November, and Johnson is expected to be armed with a full costing of Labour’s policies which has been controversially drawn up by civil servants and therefore paid for by the taxpayer.

    Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said it was an abuse of the civil service’s rules of impartiality and added: “Never before has any political party abused their position and used dirty tricks in this way.”

    But McDonnell’s protestations will count for nothing if the Tories and their media spin doctors are able to get it into voters’ heads that Labour’s plans are too expensive and will be funded by raising taxes.

    Tags:
    General Election, Lynton Crosby, Conservative Party, Boris Johnson
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