Monday, March 01, 2010

Ashcroft exposed

For a decade, the Conservatives have skirted round the issue of Lord Ashcroft's tax status. They have never corrected reports that he had committed to being a permanent resident in the UK for tax purposes and when directly asked, there was an agreed turn of phrase about having no reason to believe that he was not complying with his commitments, to the point where the Information Commissioner criticised them for their "evasive and obfuscatory" comments on Ashcroft's status.

And yet, when fellow Conservative George Young lets the cat out of the bag,
He is in the same position as a number of Labour peers who are non-domiciled and who fund the Labour party
the Tory machine goes into overdrive, forcing him into a humiliating climbdown by claiming that he had 'misspoken' by telling the truth.

David Cameron professed delight that Ashcroft has come out and admitted his status, spinning it as some sort of openness on his lordship's part, rather than a result of enforcement by the Information Commissioner - ironically against the government's own Cabinet Office which had refused to disclose the information.

And before the Tories kick off about the Labour non-doms, remember that Lord Ashcroft is a bit different. Not only have the Conservatives obfuscated when presented with any direct questions about his tax status, but Lord Ashcroft has given - directly or indirectly - £6.7 million since 2001 and we have no idea what he gave before that. Rumours suggest that he effectively sustained the party through the painful years between 1997 and 2001 and it is known that he personally guaranteed a £3 million loan to the party. He has flown Tory shadow cabinet members around the globe, sitting in on key meetings between William Hague and representatives of other governments. Lord Ashcroft is a deputy chairman of the Conservative Party, with a desk at the heart of their headquarters and a key role in funding campaigns in the vital marginal seats.


john said...

Non-doms are not committed to this country. Hence really they should not be in the legislature. That applies whether they are Labour Peers or Tory peers and you have more than the tories do.

PoliticalHack said...

Remember that nice Mr Michael Brown who handed over a couple of million quid that he'd managed to acquire? Anyone seen him lately? If they do, the police would like a word.

Actually, I'd go further than just kicking out non-doms - I'd like to see a fully elected Upper House, so we can get rid of all the peers.