The benefits debate in Westminster will rage on long after today’s vote in the Commons. It’s not just a straight row between the government and opposition over who is really on the side of hard working people, nor is it just a debate within the two governing parties. It seems that divisions are now opening in the higher echelons of the Tory machine over just how hard to push the rhetoric.
More outspoken MPs — like Dr Sarah Wollaston — have taken to the airwaves to decry the term ‘scroungers’ and ‘skivers’, but most surprisingly even Lynton Crosby, who Labour are desperate to paint as a rather rash and extreme antipodean, is calling for things to be toned down. Or at least that’s what someone told the Fiancial Times. The pink’un is reporting ‘he believes that the case for curbing benefits should be made in a less strident way.’ It is even said that Crosby recommended the pulling of an advertising campaign on the subject:
‘Last month, an online Tory advert targeting marginal seats featured an image of a young man slumped on a sofa and asked whether the government should support “hardworking families or people who won’t work”. The Conservatives were planning another advertising campaign along similar lines last weekend, but were advised against it by Lynton Crosby, the Australian who starts work this week as the party’s election chief.’
Of course, this would have nothing to do with the view that many in Westminster assumed (incorrectly) that he was behind the previous controversial advert. A very public correcting of the record?
Give something clever this Christmas – a year’s subscription to The Spectator for just £75. And we’ll give you a free bottle of champagne. Click here.