Friday 5 March 2010

Still Digging

The news that Cameron didn't know about Ashcroft's tax status until this week, and that Hague didn't know until a few weeks ago, is pretty astonishing, given that questions and rumours have been circulating for so many years. After all, his lordship has been a key member of the top campaign team for several years and has an office as part of the Conservative HQ structure; successive Tory leaders must have been talking to him on a fairly regular basis.

Yet, assuming that the current Tory leader is telling the truth (and I think we should), we are effectively expected to believe one of two things.

The first is that Cameron (to say nothing of Hague, Duncan-Smith, and Howard before him) never felt that there was any need to ask Ashcroft the question, despite it being asked of him on a regular basis. He preferred to ride out the regular criticism and questioning than to ask one simple question. If this is true, it's diffficult to avoid the conclusion that he had a pretty good idea what the answer would be, but preferred to retain what Nixon memorably called 'credible deniability'.

The alternative is that he did ask the question, but was told to mind his own business, a response which he quietly accepted and did nothing more about. I find it hard to believe either of these, but surely one or other must be true.

All parties, from time to time, have people who for one reason or another are a potential source of embarrassment. I've always believed that it's better in the long run to risk a bit of bad publicity for trying to deal with a problem when it comes to light than to risk a great deal of bad publicity by turning a blind eye.

It looks very much as though four successive Tory leaders have preferred to attempt to ride out the storm for a whole decade - blinded by the vastness of the fortune directed their way. At the moment, I seem to be hearing the sounds of chickens coming home to roost.


plaidcasnewydd said...

Of course, even leaving aside the corruption issue, the Ashcroft affair points to the need for a wholly elected second chamber. Without that these sorry tales of nepotism will forever rear their heads.

Anonymous said...

Ashcroft we are told has paid tax here, £27,000 last year I believe thats more then Lord sainsbury paid.

But you have Lord Paul who has paid no tax here and became a Lord because he entered into Blairs sale of peerages. Mittels wanted letter written to buy a steel works, and Cohen just wanted to be a tit, the rest of labour non Dom's are all well known all have paid f*ck all here and all expected something for the money.

I have great leaps of faith that labour might tell us the difference between labour non Dom's and the Tories non Dom's.

John Dixon said...


Your faith in Labour is likely to be seriously misplaced. Labour also have questions to answer here - but the Tories really should not be using what Labour has done as any sort of justification for their own actions. They're both wrong.

Anonymous said...

Bloody hell Paul has been runninga round shouting his mouth off he leave the country if he had to pay tax, how about labour using some of the money from the Unions for a ticket.

The BNP are looking like a better vote for me each day just to protest

John Dixon said...


I really don't understand how tax avoidance by Labour and Tories peers is an argument for you to consider supporting a racist party. But then I've never understood any argument for racism.