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dead cat strategy

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dead cat strategy – noun

dead cat – noun

The "dead cat strategy" is exactly what we are beginning to see from the Conservative party in the run-up to 2015.

A successful dead cat diversion has to be nasty. It is usually personal, about families or name calling about clothes.

Don’t get distracted by Trump’s ‘dead cats’.


What’s the best thing to do if an opponent’s blows are hitting home and you are starting to look weak or cornered? Well, on the basis that attack is the best defence, you might consider diverting attention away from the accusations by hitting back with some wild accusations of your own. In other words, you could throw a dead cat on the table. In the words of the former London mayor and current UK foreign secretary Boris Johnson:

“The key point is that everyone will shout ‘Jeez, mate, there’s a dead cat on the table!’; in other words they will be talking about the dead cat, the thing you want them to talk about, and they will not be talking about the issue that has been causing you so much grief.”

Like the dead cat bounce, a term much in vogue during the financial crisis of 2008, this colourful term caught on quickly and has now spread across the Atlantic: the third citation above is a recent headline from the Washington Post.


If Johnson is to be believed, the term, like the strategy it describes, is the creation of Australian political strategist Lynton Crosby who, having assisted Johnson in the London mayoral election in 2012, went on to help the Tories to victory in the 2015 general election. The phrase first emerged in a newspaper column Johnson wrote in 2013.


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