Ashcroft gobbles-up political websites….
Lord Ashcroft is a busy-bee; when he is not busy funding the Cameron drive to Number 10 he seems to be busy acquiring stakes in major political websites. Hardly surprising that he should have a stake in Conservative Home but maybe a little more disturbing that he does have his substantial claws into Politics Home. Andrew Rawnsley has subsequently resigned saying;
“that the new ownership meant it was no longer possible to have confidence in the website’s political independence.”
One might well think that there is some danger that Rawnsley’s resignation might well become a self-fulfilling prophecy in that it will take a fierce defender of the site’s independence away from the fray. Politics Home is something of a beacon and I suspect it maybe one of those things that will be to some degree self-regulating; ie, if it goes too far then it will lose readership. However, subtle shifts of emphasis may slip under the radar though we wait to see what happens in the future.
Conservative Home already seems to be readying it’s muzzle;
“The site had already made clear that it would become less critical of the leadership as an election approaches, in order to give Mr Cameron the best chance of winning.”
So, no chance that Tim Montgomerie will be asking awkward questions about the tax status of Lord Ashcroft in the near future then. This is a shame and actually one of the things that makes the deal more questionable, it is arguably bad enough to have a prominent Party figure in such a position but it is worse when they have a vested interest in awkward questions being avoided. However, all this will probably please the likes of The Spectator’s Coffee House which will no doubt scent an opportunity to snaffle some readers. Overall while Liberal Democrat’s would on one hand most likely be a little pleased to see the kind of money that Ashcroft can bring invested in our party it is probably wise to remember that money is not everything, especially with strings attached.