Saturday, November 10, 2007
Miasma of Sleaze from the Conservatives' Eminence Gris
Michael Ashcroft, Deputy Tory chairman, certainly appeared to know what he was writing about when he penned his book, Dirty Politics, Dirty Times(see tiny picture to right above). As a Labour supporter may I say how nice it is-almost a sense of deja vu- to sniff that familiar old sleaze miasma drifting in the breeze downwind from the Conservatives, this time and not, embarrassingly, from my own party.
Ashcroft seems to have been caught bang to rights. When his original nomination for a peerage was queried, pledges were given by the party that he would return to live in the UK and pay tax here as well:
One promise that he would return was made by the then Tory leader, William Hague, in order to secure the peerage more than seven years ago. A similar assurance had already been given by Lord Ashcroft himself when he settled a libel action with the Times newspaper.
Yet we find Ashcroft's official domicile remains 'uncertain' and his spokes-people are refusing to clarify the matter. If there is no question that he has reneged on his promises, as his people insist, why can't he clear the matter up? Given Ashcroft's dominant position in current Conservative politics, this issue is especially sensitive. His study Smell the Coffee, back in 2005, was instrumental in shifting a reluctant party to realise it had to elect a left of centre leader.
In addition, his bankrolling of candidates in marginal constituencies helped win a number of victories in the 2005 election and is arguably the factor Labour fears most when contemplating the next election, an event in which The Guardian suggests Ashcroft will play a commanding role for the Tories. His role is also a major bone of contention in the stalled talks on party funding chaired by Sir Hayden Phillips. I kind of hope Ashcroft will let this one run and run as the longer it does, the more odium will adhere to the Conservatives. Make no mistake, the longer Ashcroft and Cameron refuse to come clean, the stronger that smell of sleaze will become.
Wouldn't he be traceable via a search at Companies House, or an electoral register, or something like that?
I think the key thing is the officialbusines address. Ashcroft has a house in London-as the linked article tells us- but this is not his official address.
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