Saturday 8 May 2010

Billionaire Ashcroft is furious with democracy - and Cameron

There is an entertaining news story in The Observer offering more colour Tory anger with the leader who may have brought the party to the brink of a return to power.

Not-Lord Ashcroft is not at all impressed with David Cameron.

The man who spent £5 million on partisan election propaganda to persuade the voters seems to be very upset that millions of voters, before they had to cast their votes, were also able to watch the three party leaders debate each other in the leaders' debates which energised the election campaign. Without that democratic distraction, Ashcroft believes his strategy would have won the Tories a majority.

The Observer can reveal that Lord Ashcroft, who pumped £5m into marginal seats, is furious with the Tory leader for having agreed to take part in television debates that he believes undid much of his work for the party.

Friends of Ashcroft also say the peer is angry because he believes Cameron failed to stand up for him properly in the row over his "non-dom" tax status, which harmed the Tories in the run-up to the election.

Though the billionaire feels let down on all fronts, that final grievance does seem enormously harsh on both Cameron and William Hague. After all, Tory leaders spent a decade being complicit in an evasive cover-up over Ashcroft's non-dom status, and would not disown him when all was revealed either.

Ashcroft did make a rare BBC television appearance in the early hours of Friday morning, talking to Andrew Neil on the BBC's election night boat, as The Observer notes.

"I think from the time the Conservatives were ahead, we then had the debates, which has quite obviously turned everything topsy-turvy and what were natural assumptions before those debates changed the whole of the playing field," he said. "This is the type of result we are now seeing as a consequence of those debates."

Taking "a pure strategic hindsight view" he said there was a "balanced argument" over whether David Cameron should have taken part.A friend of Ashcroft told the Observer that the peer held Cameron personally responsible for the emergence of Clegg as a genuine rival: "He believes it knocked several points off our poll ratings and that, without it, we would have won."

And do share your guesses as to who "the senior frontbencher" is who shared these comments with a Sunday newspaper even as his leader sought to negotiate the forming of a government:

"He ran his campaign from the back of his Jaguar with a smug, smarmy little clique – people like Osborne, [Oliver] Letwin and Michael Gove. He should get rid of all of them. The party will settle for nothing less."


UPDATE: Saturday's Mirror had a report on the Ashcroft BBC interview.

Another fascinating detail of the BBC interview was that Ashcroft revealed the party had carried out polling on whether his name generated negative sentiment. He claimed this showed the controversy was not a problem for the Tories, because Ashcroft had lower name recognition that a made-up name put into the mix, presumably as a control.


Bill Kristol-Balls said...

Targeted advertising in marginal constituencies - £5,000,000.

Flying William Hague around the world in a private jet - £1,000,000.

Finding out the electorate still don't want you in government - Speechless.

There are some things money can't buy. For everything else there's Ashcroft.

Someone get a poster made up :)

DespairingLiberal said...

Beautiful moment at the end of that interview when the First Baron Belize confirmed he would be fully domming back to Britannia - Neil responds that once he pays taxes again, that will solve the deficit crisis the Tories keep banging on about!

13eastie said...

Lord A might well be a tad irritated, but we all know who the true enemy of democracy is.

Who promised electoral reform and then found the idea far too inconvenient for 13 years until they were trounced?

Who sold policy reversal to Bernie Eccleston for £1m?

Who offered a referendum on Lisbon only on the condition that it would ratified?

Who just couldn't stop invoking the Parliament Act?

Who made affordability the only barrier to a seat in their (supposedly reformed) upper house?

Who populated the cabinet with the unelected and the disgraced (sometimes both)?

Who tried to exclude the people's own representatives from Freedom of Information obligations?

Who wilfully facilitated massive postal vote fraud?

Who foisted an unelected leader on its own membership?

Who forced an unelectable prime minister on the entire country?

Who planned an election and chickened out?

Who shamelessly tried to abuse the electoral system by encouraging voters to support someone other than their preferred candidate?

Who is trying in the most graceless fashion to deny 71% of the electorate their expressed will?


Maelo Manning said...

The Tories don't come across as a party of people with traditional values such as loyalty. Even though Ashcroft was attacked for his non-dom status he has helped the Tory party a lot.
I predict Cameron's career is in trouble because of the backbiting that has already started. Tory values at play.

Stuart White said...

Let's look at it from a philosophical point of view. Isn't it really, at base, a question of respecting consumer sovereignty? Not-Lord Ashcroft bought an election. Now he finds he's not got what he paid for. Its just not fair.