This is a sometimes 'cheesey' blog about British and American politics and anything else which tickles my fancy!

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

The Tories still need to answer questions about Ashcroft

The brouah over Lord Ashcroft’s tax status is good news for Labour, which now smells blood.

Ashcroft has secretly remained a non dom for nine years while he has sat in Parliament. In order to qualify for a peerage he should be “permanently resident” but it seems he has got away with only being “long term resident”.

Not only does he appear to have broken a promise that he would become permanently resident in the UK to secure a seat in the House of Lords but his odd tax status also means that he could have avoided paying tens of millions of pounds in income tax.

William Hague doesn’t seem to know what, if any, tax Ashcroft was paying. Cameron doesn’t seem to understand that this is a question about his judgement and integrity.

Ashcroft has effectively bankrolled the Tories over the last few years. He has developed his own personal fiefdom at Central Office which has given him enormous sway over Tory policy and, because of the bags of cash he has thrown at swing seats, an enormous sway over the outcome of the next election

The Conservatives refuse to answer any more questions about the affair but there should now be a full inquiry into his nomination for a peerage and his tax affairs.

The situation is not comparable with that of the Labour peer, Lord Paul, either. He has never hidden his non dom status. He has never had a say over the direction of the Labour Party and he was never described by the chair of the peerages scrutiny committee as “not a suitable man to be a peer”.

The whole affair only adds to voters’ impressions that the Tory leadership is an out of touch, mega-rich elite who think there is one rule for them and one rule for everyone else.

It is a sign of Labour’s appetite for a fight on this that Mandelson was all over the air waves yesterday stoking the flames. This thing still has legs.