Tax abroad Lord

So Ashcroft is indeed a non-dom.  No surprise there then.  It’s only taken ten years for the tax abroad Lord to cough up to his tax status, and even that was only because his cover was about to be blown by an freedom of information investigation into his tax affairs.  It was ironic that David Cameron preached about patriotic duty yesterday, when it looks like some of the money donated to the party by deputy chairman Ashcroft came from his business interests registered in the tax haven of Belize.  Samuel Johnson’s quote that “patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel” is resonating.

Labour aren’t any better – they’ve got two non-dom Lords on their books and a host of non-dom contributors.  The whole culture of political funding from donors registered in tax havens (often in British protectorates) should be stopped, not to mention funding and media backing from unions and corporations.  It has an adverse effect on democracy when a few can drive the agenda by stumping up cash and providing media exposure for political parties.

What Ashcroft did was perfectly legal, but the issue here is one of secrecy and obfuscation, particularly from a political party which has been trying to gain the moral ground over political sleaze.  Former Tory leader William Hague has blustered about Ashcroft’s tax status since he was ennobled back in 2000, Hague continuing to avoid answering truthfully on the issue right up to last week, and Cameron refused to clarify the situation either despite George Young’s recent foot in mouth episode, instead hiding behind half truths.

Today we had an embarrassing display by Cameron trying to smile and slime his way out of it.

“I’m delighted that Lord Ashcroft has made these statements and has answered these questions”

Yeah, right.  Cameron looked about as ‘delighted’ as if he had just been told that his testicles were about to be removed with a rusty corkscrew by someone with Parkinson’s Disease.  If Cameron had some cojones and an ethical backbone, and was ‘ready to govern’, he would ask Ashcroft to stand down pending an investigation, and return all of the money from abroad, or at least put it into escrow until the investigation is complete.  But he won’t, he needs Ashcroft’s money to bankroll the election fight in the marginal seats.

It’s nice to see the Tories embrace ‘change’ isn’t it?  Or should that be plus ça change?

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