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David Cameron's claim to have only discovered that Baron Ashcroft of Belize was still a non-dom and had not taken permanent residence, opting instead for the new "long term" fudge introduced in 2008 i.e. eight years after his commitment, followed hot on the heels of William Hague's assertion that he had only become aware of this in the past few months.
In fact, given what follows, it is probably just as well to check exactly what words this pair used. Both of them are politicians after all. And rather effective speakers of the weaselish.
Five days ago we tweeted that a certain old Andrew Marr interview with Dave Cameron should be dusted down. And yesterday as Cameron's extraordinary claim of baffling ignorance emerged we tweeted again and again, including links to our earlier blogposts - from 4 Dec 2007 and again 6 Dec 2007 and also 18 July 2009. Also the BBC Andrew Marr Programme transcript.
These links were picked up on Twitter by James Cowley who blogged this as "reassurances" and onwards to Political Scrapbook who did likewise. In fact, though, LOL believe that both of these Labour supporting bloggers are missing the significance of what Cameron and Marr did and did not say on that fateful day.
This appears to be a classic case of "NO" meaning "YES, indeedy". As we said at the time. Dave Cameron asserted that he'd had reassurances that Michael Ashcroft - now seven years and eight months after doing his contingent deal - was still girding up his loins and getting to it.
"The undertakings .. are being met .. I have had reassurances .." said Cameron. "Being met, but haven't been met", clarified Marr. "No" said Cameron, meaning yes "in terms of the reassurances that he is resident in the UK and pays taxes in the UK". So, to spell this out, again.
Cameron had had reassurances of present tense "being met" which as it goes have still not come to anything, except a grab at the new "long term" status. But Cameron agreed, using the weasel word "No" to Marr's point that he had not had reassurances that they'd been met. Paxman would have asked another question or two I guess. Though it was plain enough to me.
To be fair: "YES, they haven't been met" and "NO, they haven't been met" actually do mean the exact same thing. Whether bantering in both English or High Eton Weaselish.
This part of the exchange in full, as transcribed by the BBC, with their usual caveats about accuracy, was as follows:
You can listen and watch yourself by clicking top image (launches BBC media player), there'll be an inline video here soon I hope, and via the embedded video on this 2 Dec 2007 news page.
Interesting that the story was that whacky Abrahams obfuscation story - eligible donor uses other eligible donors as agents and employs some legal trickery, subsequently discredited, to clear this - and Cameron's attempts to put the Trade Unions, collecting pennies from millions of workers, in the same bag as the likes of Ashcroft and indeed Sainsbury and Mittal.
The Cameron admission that, even almost eight years on, Ashcroft was still stalling and hadn't become a permanent resident, didn't make the cut. Then as now people in the mass media don't speak the fly-by-night weasel too good.