Friday, March 05, 2010

House Points: Lord Ashcroft and the Conservatives

My House Points column from today's Liberal Democrat News. It is largely derived from earlier postings on this blog. Follow the latter link and you will find that Lord Ashcroft's quotation about Belize is still in place on his website.

Economical truths

The most telling thing about the Ashcroft affair is the indignities that senior shadow cabinet members put themselves through to avoid giving a straight answer to questions about his tax status.

Here is William Hague being interviewed by Andrew Marr in November of last year:

Hague: My conclusion having asked him is that he fulfilled the obligations
that were imposed on him at the time that he became a peer.

Marr: So does he pay taxes in the UK?

Hague: Well that, well that, I imagine that was the obligation that was imposed on him.

Try Caroline Spelman on The Daily Politics a few months before that:

Interviewer: So is he resident in the UK and paying taxes here?

Spelman: A donation has to be made by an individual who is... who pays tax in the United Kingdom.

Or David Cameron on the same programme just before Christmas:
Lord Ashcroft's tax status is a matter between him and the Inland Revenue. What I can say and what he has said is that the undertakings he gave at the time of being made a peer are undertakings that he is meeting.
Put these together and they offer a master class in giving a misleading impression without telling an outright lie.

And they are still at it. On Monday Michael Gove told Channel 4 News : “The position of Lord Ashcroft is that he is not the major donor to the Conservative party. He’s given less than one per cent, I think, this year.”

It’s not much of a defence to the charge that you have sold your soul to say that you did not get much for it. It makes the Tories’ look like Christopher Marlowe’s Faustus, who sold his soul to Mephistopheles and got no more than a bit of slapstick in Rome and a quick shufti at Helen of Troy in return.

But the truth is that Ashcroft has been the largest donor to the Conservative Party since David Cameron became its leader.

House Points is nothing if not fair, so we are allowing Lord Ashcroft the last word. Visit his website and you will find this sentence given prominence: “If home is where the heart is, then Belize is my home.”


resident,ordinarily resident,domiciled and broke said...

Well if he had said “If home is where the heart is, then Britain is my home.” Then he would be UK domiciled.

So,how much did the highly paid tax advisers charge for that line?

Richard Gadsden said...

The Tories' argument that it wasn't a lot of money reminds me of the line from a Man for All Seasons: "Why Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world?... but for Wales, Richard, for Wales?"