The Conservative Party must choose a leader who has “character” and can offer “hope” to voters, Lynton Crosby has said.
The political strategist masterminded David Cameron’s 2015 election victory and also worked on Boris Johnson’s two successful London mayoral races.
He is reported to be advising Johnson on how to win the current Tory leadership contest.
“With a change in leadership that creates the opportunity for us to be heard again, for the case to be made again,” he said on Tuesday.
“You need someone who can articulate the case. You need someone who has character. The most successful politicians today are those who have some element of character.”
Speaking at an event hosted by the Policy Exchange think-tank and ConHome, Crosby quoted Napoleon as observing “leaders are dealers in hope”.
“The person who becomes leader has to have an ability to connect with voters and offer a sense of hope.
“Not some phoney, hollow, unrealistic sense of ‘it’s all going to be great’ but nevertheless gives people a sense of belief in this country.”
Crosby did not mention Johnson by name, but added: “You cannot underestimate the impact of changing those dynamics in the way people will respond.”
He was speaking shortly before voting got underway in the second round of the leadership contest in which at least one candidate will be eliminated.
Asked by HuffPost UK which rival candidate Johnson would least like to have to face when the leadership contest is narrowed to the final two, Crosby said he was “not going to past judgement on anybody”.
“Anybody who is prepared to run for office and have their name on a ballot paper and be subjected to the scrutiny of their peers is, as far as I’m concerned, one of God’s children,” he said.
Crosby also said the next general election would have a very different background than the one in 2017 when Theresa May lost her majority.
He said at the last election no one thought Jeremy Corbyn had a chance of winning. “The threat is real. He could win,” Crosby said of the next election.
Crosby praised Corbyn for running a competent election campaign which had a “consistent” message. “He conducted himself well. His campaign events were well organised,” he added.