Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Law Maker, Promise Breaker: Questions for Ashcroft

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:

Dear Michael
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?


Anonymous said...

You lose. Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha.

Chris Paul said...

We'll see. Thank you for all your answers, muppet.

Anonymous said...

So lets get this straight CP:

1) You're outraged at a Conservative donor giving money legally

2) You cover up and excuse Labour ministers BREAKING THE LAW

How do you expect to convince voters using more spin, lies, smear and deceit?

Lets get on to firm Labour ground of increases in tax so we can spend more on the public sector.

Give the voters something to think about!

Chris Paul said...

I am not covering up anything. I think anyone breaking the rules absolutely deserves whatever they get. And there are no smears here, just reasonable questions.

Simple questions at that.

Ashcroft has conned a peerage out of the UK parliament. Discuss.

If Ashcroft is giving direct to CCHQ as he has claimed to White why is his name not in the register after 2002?

The things Ashcroft says in both these cases simply are not quite true. Not close to being true.

Why would anyone believe any assertion by him or on his behalf that what he does is fully legal, close to ethical, acceptable to reasonable people?

He is a tax exile spending the winnings from that playing with our politics like a monopoly set.

Anonymous said...

Labour minister did not 'break the rules'.


You really must accept this.

Chris Paul said...

They broke the "rule of law" if you like.

Primary definition of Law:

1. Rule imposed by authority

Primary definition of Rule:

n 1. Principle, line of conduct

v 1. Give judicial decision

And whatever, yes clearly I accept your ruling.

Perhaps you would now like to comment on that clever Mr, sorry Lord, Ashcroft and his seven years of broken promises and his current claim to be donating directly through CCHQ.

Anonymous said...

Chris, there are two sorts of donations. Legal donations, and illegal donations. If you believe that Lord Ashcroft's donations fall into the latter catagory, then presumably you will have handed any evidence you have over to the police. If not, then we can safely assume that your guff on here is merely a continuation of the Labour Party HQ smear line of painting the entirely legal, above-board donations to the Conservative Party as the same as the illegal, law-breaking donations to various figures in the Labour Party. It won't wash.

Do you not think that Labour HQ has had a team of researchers scouring Ashcroft's every move for something illegal ever since he appeared on the political scene? If there was a problem with his donations, surely they would have found it by now? Time to quit with the smokescreen and admit the truth.

Chris Paul said...

Actually Iain while that is true there is a mu area as well and things ain't that simple.

I think there are more than two types or at least there are at any given time some donations that are not fully in either of your categories.

Of the legal donations there are those that meet the letter and the spirit of the rules and those which do not fully meet the latter expectation.

There are those that are obviously legal. There are those that are a stretch but unanimously agreed as legal. And there are those that are moot.

The drafting isn't perfect. The guidance from third parties isn't always as helpful or complete as it might be. Hence rulings are needed.

Historically the EC have been soft. And grey areas remain. Michael White gave some examples of auctions and so on which are certainly not so clearly in either of your categories though every fool know that paying 10,000 for a signed book is really a donation, as is putting some cash in a raffle envelope.

There are also examples of donations that could have been made completely legally but through some clumsiness or misunderstanding or stupidity were got wrong. For example Abrahams could have created a society as we discuss elsewhere or he could have used a limited company cheque book as Ashcroft does.

But alas he seems to be a bit potty. He didn't do that and most of his personal donations therefore would seem to have been unlawful.

None of the 10 questions - and there may be others - are smears. They are just straightforward questions.

The first three relate to a statement LA made to White (and others have reported similar) about how his donations are being handled. THe expected evidence to back his statement is not there on the ECR which raises these questions. It is not a smear to say so.

Questions 4 to 9 all flow from Ashcroft/Hague/CCO's promises of 2000 to wheedle the man a peerage. All legitimate questions and it is certainly not a smear to raise these either. Cameron in fact appears to have answered some of them on Sunday but some people did get the opposite meaning from his words than I did.

As things stand Ashcroft would appear to have obtained something of considerable value under false pretences. No-one really seems to dispute that. You lot just cry "smear" and blether about it.

Question 10 is clearly "just for fun". I have no idea why such support would ever be ruled legal but if it is then I certainly think it is a poor reflection on Tories that the values are so understated.

Presumably if you blog about this stuff in your usual bullocking style back at base you will be telling me about that so I can keep an eye on you?

Ted Foan said...

"If you're in a hole - stop digging"

Chris - you're out of your depth. If this is the only way you and your ilk can attack the Conservatives then you've lost the argument at the outset.

Let's hear about Labour's "vision" and the way that they will drag themselves out of the whirlpool of sleaze they have fallen into.

Why would anyone want to vote for this shabby shower of incompetents?


Anonymous said...

Zanu-Labour are exposing themselves for what they really are.

Liars, cheats, spinners and law-breakers.

Anonymous said...

Surely the facts are clear. Only UK nationals registered to vote are able to donate to political parties. Ashcroft does not live in this country (if he does in which ward does he appear on the electoral register?) so his donations are illegal