Saturday 6 March 2010

Churchill would know what to say about Ashcroft

The charge of "putting party before country" has been a potent one, at least since Winston Churchill found an unusual vehicle to launch a political attack through a book index entry, "Baldwin, Stanley ... confesses putting party before country, 169-70.

But has the charge ever fitted anybody so well as the astounding Lord Ashcroft?

Ashcroft has given £4 million to the Tories since Cameron became leader. Ashcroft should be asked has the non-dom billionaire given more to the Tories than he has paid in UK tax?

Yet the man who avoided VAT by conducting his marginal constituency polling during the 2005 campaign offshore from Belize, and looks to have been saying one thing to the tax man and another to Parliament?, was also going on official trips with the Shadow Foreign Secretary, on which he organised his own private meetings to discuss the affairs of Belize, the country he used to represent at the UN but whose premier has said is in a 'state of war' with Lord Ashcroft.

There looks likely to be much more. Ashcroft's decision a month ago to sue The Independent in pursuit of £50,000 for libel looks a lot less clever with details of court papers spilled all over The Guardian today.

For a man who values his privacy so much, that looks like an error of judgement which deserves to turn him into the new Trafigura.

Andrew Grice has a good account of the spectacular failure of political judgment which saw David Cameron declare that there was no point flogging a dead horse on Monday.

Bookmakers now say Ashcroft is 3/1 against to be gone before the General Election.

That looks good value - but it suggests a remarkable tenacity for his chances of survival to be that high. Does Ashcroft know where some key bodies are buried? Just how much do Cameron and Hague fear what would happen if he was not "inside the tent, pissing out", as insiders describe the decision to embrace the controversial peer who appears determined to remain a law unto himself.

The real damage for the Conservatives is that so many parts of this complex tale of duplicity and complicity reinforce the idea that there is one law for them and another for the rest of us.

A problem surely reinforced by the timing of the latest transparency wheeze, as Alastair Campbell points out:

If you earn £58,000 a year in local government, Cameron proposes to put your salary on the internet.

If you are a billionaire non-dom Tory peer and senior political player who breaks a pledge to Parliament. Then Dave says he will protect your privacy

1 comment:

Robert said...

Real new labour what the F*ck did the Mittels get , Cohen get, well Paul never hid the facts he was after for his money and he became Lord Paul, but we have many others in the new labour fold who I cannot even spell their names but the come from out side the UK gaining something for giving the billions. glass houses a boulders come to mind.

Politics and money greed and you have politics in the UK to day...