Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Ashcroft, cash for constituencies and the Tory party

Sooner or later the Tories are going to have to deal with the 'Ashcroft' issue. The main issues appear to be:

1. There is still no clarity with regards to the the status of Lord Ashcroft as a UK tax-paying resident fully domiciled.
2. Ashcroft's entry into the Lords was made at the request of William Hague when the latter was Leader of the Conservative Party. The then Chairman of the Honours Committee, Lord Thomson, asked the Prime Minister (Tony Blair) to clarify the then Mr Ashcroft’s residence and tax status. When he was made a peer, Downing Street (not Lord Ashcroft) issued a statement in March 2000 stating that ‘Michael Ashcroft has given a clear and unequivocal assurance that he will take up permanent residence in the UK before the end of the calendar year.’ Nine years later and we still do not know if he is domiciled in the UK in the full tax-paying sense.
3. In 2000 One of Lord Ashcroft's predecessors as Tory party treasurer, Lord McAlpine of West Green, said that it would be "outrageous and wrong" for him to receive a peerage.
4. In 2005 Ashcroft used his own private money (supported by fellow businessmen Lord Leonard Steinberg and Bob Edmiston)to support Tory candidates in key seats. This was separate from the party's official campaign. All in all Ashcroft and his colleagues spent £1 million in 93 constituencies.

There have been all kinds of stories and allegations against Ashcroft over the years and Cameron can ill afford for more and more questions to remain unanswered. Same old Tories?

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