Guido Fawkes is "on fire", wild fire at that, a month after his usual appointment with immolation, carelessness atop carelessness. Here he is throwing stones from just beside the Tory glass house (as he says he is NOT a member):
Labour is trying to spread the blame, with "we're all at it" spin lines. They keep referring to Lord Ashcroft, who makes all his donations to the Tories above board and has actually given less money than Labour's Lord Sainsbury.
Sadly for Mr GuF Labour are pushing at an open door if they are saying "we're all at it". The parties clearly are "all at at it" though it must be said that, so far at least, the Tories have mostly come up with tricky moves - such as taking the M.I.C., Bears in the Wood, Banquets at the HoP - on which scarcely a glove has been laid on them.
But Lord Michael Ashcroft, rather than appearing "above board", is surely but surely riding his Dassault jet for a big fall? Talking over and over again - as Guido does above - about "his" donations or "my" donations when he is not giving directly and when every relevant aspect of his status and some aspects of status of his intermediaries are unclear.
Is Lord Ashcroft registered to vote in the UK? At a UK address where Lord Ashcroft genuinely lives? Is Lord Ashcroft resident for tax purposes? And is Lord Ashcroft domiciled here? Or is Lord Ashcroft offshore as a Conservative Abroad? If the latter is he now close to having had the 15 years that I understand are allowed?
Here we go again:
Michael White's Guardian Blog yesterday deals with the hard sell and soft soap spinning from CCHQ and explains just how easy it can be to give with low or no publicity. Within the rules. If determinedly in the scummy stagnant depths of the pool of transparency. Dark depths where the Tories seem to love to bathe.
Clubs and societies, banquets and parties, auctions and raffles. Labour seem to be missing exploiting some of these routes. For all sorts of good reasons.
Tribally for the comrades the £500 a plate dinner is a tough swallow. Beer and sandwiches may have given way to balti and shiraz with isolated shoals of fish and chips, but the big formal bash is anathema.
Auctions and raffles we do have, but for the most part prices are sadly sane.
There have been one or two examples of societies but as Labour are agin' it on principle this is not that prevalent.
Back to Michael White's blog, initially quoting from Andrew Marr's Sunday interview with the slippery when wet Dave-id Cameron:
DAVID CAMERON: I am satisfied that the undertakings he gave are being met and I have had reassurances on that. But I would like to put it in context.
ANDREW MARR: Being met, but haven't been met.
DAVID CAMERON: No, in terms of the reassurances that he is resident in the UK and pays taxes in the UK. But the point, the point I would like to make, if you look at the last year actually Mittal and David Sainsbury have given more money to the Labour party than Lord Ashcroft has given to the Conservative party.
Cameron is actually saying that Lord Ashcroft HAS NOT yet met the commitments made by plain Michael Ashcroft, by William Hague and by the Conservative Party SEVEN YEARS AGO. Let Michael have a little go at Cameron's answer:
That's currently true. Lord Ashcroft himself told me he is currently giving about £400,000 a year - far less than in the late 90s when he virtually saved the Tory party from bankruptcy. He is doing so through the central party machine, not via Bearwood donations to local Tory associations in winnable seats, as the commission's record shows he used to do.
This seems to be a ticking time bomb with an unknown countdown zero. With mercury switches making it tamper proof. It could go off at any time.
David333 asks the question obvious to anyone who has sought out Ashcroft's name in the Electoral Commission Register:
Please could you tell me,if Lord Ashcroft told you he is donating approx £400,000 a year direct to the central office, then why is there no record in the Electoral Commission Register in his name for these sums, as an individual donor?
The last named donations for him were in fact made in 2001/02.
I am obviously missing something otherwise why does the Electoral Commission not seem interested.
To these eyes it seems fairly obvious that Dave-id Cameron is admitting in weaselly words and strangled vowels that Lord Ashcroft is still taking the Michael. No, he DOES NOT live in the UK. No, he is NOT resident here or domiciled here for tax purposes. Yes, he appears to have made a liar of himself, of Hague, and of the Conservative Party.
Lord Michael Ashcroft seems quite simply "sharing the proceeds" of tax avoidance with his pet project. Considering that the Newsnight fishing expedition to Labour last week went down so well with the Tory Boy Bloggers here's ten questions:
1. Where is the trace of gifts in Lord Ashcroft's own name? "My donations"
2. Where is the trace of loans in Lord Ashcroft's own name?
3. If not in Lord Ashcroft's name and not through Bearwood Securities what individual or entity is Lord Ashcroft's agent?
4. Where is Lord Ashcroft registered to vote?
5. Does Lord Ashcroft's registration to vote check out fully as we would all hope?
6. Where does Lord Ashcroft actually have his main home?
7. Where is Lord Ashcroft domiciled for tax purposes?
8. Where is Lord Ashcroft resident for tax purposes?
9. When will he make an honest man of William Hague over promises in 2000 AD including moving back and paying millions of personal tax without which he would never have been ennobled?
10. What is the crack with Bermuda's Flying Lion, valuations of services received, and a sensible rationale for exemption under the "travel" rule and guidance?