Monday, 1 February 2010

Tory Sleaze

Some good coverage today and yesterday of the elephant in the Tory Party, Lord Ashcroft. I cannot help but think that if the Deputy Chairman of the Labour Party had such a murky tax status then there would be much more made of it than this. It seems that the new Conservatives are still in the middle of their honeymoon period with the media; and/or their communications staff are much more effective spinners than Labour at the moment. (A bit of both I feel)

Yesterday we saw Billy Hague and Ashcroft in the spotlight. The Guardian led with:
Calls to clarify Lord Ashcroft's position after revelation that he provided flights for William Hague's visit to Havana last year, and then accompanied him to top-level meetings
It was also noted later in the article that Hague and Ashcroft met the Cuban government, which:
...breached the spirit of European rules, which state that such visits should not take place until and unless until there is a freedom to meet opponents of the regime.
So; not only does his role in a potential future Cameron Ministry (and even in the Shadow Cabinet at the moment) need further investigation, Billy and Ashcroft also broke protocol in regards to furthering democracy in Cuba.

Then, today, more trouble for Ashcroft.
Since Lord Ashcroft's ennoblement, the question of where he lives has continued to be raised, leading to speculation that Lord Ashcroft has not satisfied the undertaking he gave. Statements by senior politicians concerning Lord Ashcroft's undertaking have been evasive and obfuscatory and have served to compound this speculation.Lord Ashcroft could have ended the speculation about his residency by making a public statement to that effect. He has chosen not to do this...
The Conservative Party has been getting away with this for far too long. Ashcroft is singlehandedly bankrolling the parties operation in marginal seats, as well as, in his position as Deputy Party Chairman, involved in strategy. His residency status must become a central part of the attack on the Tories. How can someone so murky, with such a confused and unclear background, have such an integral part in the result of the election?

Keir awaits with baited breath the Cabinet Office's release of the information...

UPDATE: Rather fantastically, most outlets are running with differing versions of this picture, depicting a rather sweaty looking Ashcroft...

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