Conservatives poised to repay Ashcroft money?
So, the worst kept secret in politics is out of the bag. Lord Ashcroft, the Conservatives key-seat sugar daddy is not registered in the United Kingdom for tax purposes. Don’t worry though because he intends to start paying tax in the UK soon. I am sure a nation will breath a collective sigh of relief however, David Cameron’s delight must have been expressed through gritted teeth. There was never going to be a good time for this to come out; it must have been figured ‘better now, than during a campaign’ however, it would have been better when the polls have not turned the media narrative away from Labour crisis towards Conservatives in crisis.
Inevitably, Conservatives will turn on Labour; listing their ‘non-doms’ as Iain Dale already has done however, this is a much bigger problem for the Conservatives than Labour. Why? Because Ashcroft is much more widely known than Labour donors in the same position and is also deputy chairman of the Conservative Party. Also, Cameron and his party are widely seen in the polls as representing vested interests already so this will entrench an already held belief. Finally, the Conservatives invariably focus their attacks on Labour’s trade union funding so to change tack now looks like an obvious attempt to deflect attention from their problems. So, expect a poll by the end of the week showing a rare thing: a narrow Labour advantage.
What will become of the Ashcroft money is subject to a pending investigation by the Electoral Commission. However, I think the Conservative Party already knows the likely outcome. Only a couple of days ago it secured a £5million loan facility from Arbuthnot Latham & Co. This is, conincidentally, about the extent of Ashcrofts contributi Why would this be needed when they raised £10million last quarter other than as an insurance against having to repay the Ashcroft money?
If Cameron is serious about his committment to a politics for the many and not just the wealthy he should do the decent thing and repay the Ashcroft money now. He knows it has been wrong from the start yet still refuses to do the decent thing and hand the money back….which tells us all we need to know about what the character of a Cameron government would be.