Facebook group on Lord Ashcroft’s tax status piles on the pressure

The Information Commissioner recently described the Conservatives as “evasive and obfuscatory” over Lord Ashcroft’s tax status, so it wasn’t surprising that shadow chancellor George Osborne and shadow communities secretary Eric Pickles sounded increasingly flustered this weekend as they tried to hold the line that Lord Ashcroft’s tax affairs are solely a matter for him.

David-Cameron-Lord-AshcroftThe Tories have been very adept at positioning themselves on the side of the angels when it comes to party funding, MPs’ expenses and the broad issue of reforming the political system.

The reason for their growing discomfort on the issue of Lord Ashcroft is that continuing lack of clarity about his tax status fundamentally undermines their positioning on these issues.

So it is timely that a Facebook group has been set up calling for transparency on Lord Ashcroft’s tax status.  However, the principle that all parliamentarians should be resident in the UK for tax purposes is universal and holds true for Labour and other politicians too.

So far the group has attracted nearly 1,000 members including Alastair Campbell; Labour MPs Gordon Prentice, Willie Bain, Greg Pope, Derek Wyatt, Andy Slaughter, Annette Brooke, David Wright, Paddy Tipping and Bridget Prentice; Liberal Democrat shadow home secretary Chris Huhne

Labour PPCs such as Daniel Zeichner (Cambridge), Luciana Berger (Liverpool Wavertree), Andy King (Rugby), Emily Benn (East Worthing and Shoreham), Jonathan Todd (Westmorland and Lonsdale) and Greg Lovell (Chippenham) and Jessica Asato of Progress have also signed.

The group has spawned a petition stating that the Conservative Party should reveal the tax status of Lord Ashcroft. More than 600 have signed in a week.

The Tories are vulnerable on this issue because it goes to the heart of voters’ doubts about the true agenda of David Cameron and his lieutenants. Scratch beneath the surface and there are rich seams (excuse the pun) which Labour can use to expose Tory hypocrisy on some of the most fundamental issues of our age. 

So when voters hear George Osborne rushing to demand that the Government mimic President Obama’s banking clampdown, Labour politicians should be reminding voters just who it is that funds many of the back offices of leading Tories, including Osborne – multi-millionaire hedge fund managers and investment bankers, as the Financial Times revealed on Saturday.

• Join the Facebook group here

Our guest writer is John Slinger

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  • Peter Good

    Has Lord Paul joined the campaign???

  • http://twitter.com/andy1120/status/9188629572 AndyG

    RT @leftfootfwd Facebook group on Lord Ashcroft’s tax status piles on the pressure: http://is.gd/8voQV

  • http://fxbites.blogspot.com/ FX Man

    Are you starting a Facebook Group on Lord Paul as well? Or is this the usual “Do as I say… not as I do…”?

  • http://twitter.com/jessica_asato/status/9188734189 Jessica Asato

    RT @leftfootfwd: Facebook group on Lord Ashcroft’s tax status piles on the pressure: http://is.gd/8voQV <I signed up to it!

  • Mark

    I see the two comments above already point out some double-standards. Surely this should be about improving transparency and party funding, not some “Get Ashcroft” rant.

    I also note the blog post says “just who it is that funds many of the back offices of leading Tories, including Osborne – multi-millionaire hedge fund managers and investment bankers” when we all know these same types have funded Labour for years

    Sir Ronald Cohen, owner of the the Apax, the UK’s largest private equity operation, has donated millions to Labour and Gordon Brown’s personal office. He and his colleagues have been massive and direct beneficiaries of the huge cuts to Capital Gains Tax passed soon after Brown became Chancellor in 1997. City Minister Lord Myners is a former director of hedge fund GLG and Brown’s minister Lady Vadera was very senior at investment bank UBS.

    Donations are fickle. Money follows whoever is going to get into office. Bleating about it after 13 years in office only risks making Labour look equally fickle, many were happy to woo the City for years, sacrificing prawns and championing “light touch regulation” so they should not cry when it backfires.

  • john

    …and nothing at all wrong with the Labour Party being a wholly owned subsidiary of the UNITE union. I’m sure that little fact doesnt interfere with how policy is decided.

  • Peter Good

    There are some serious allegations about to come out about Unite’s funding of Labour, any chance you might tell us what they are before the MSM do John and Will??

  • Bill Kristol-Balls

    So the Tory defence can be summed up as follows –

    “We’re just as dodgy as Labour when it comes to donations”

    CHANGE you can believe in? Hmmmmmnnnnnn………

  • http://twitter.com/jonathan_todd/status/9190778955 Jonathan Todd

    RT @Jessica_Asato: RT @leftfootfwd: Facebook group on Lord Ashcroft’s tax status piles on the pressure: http://is.gd/8voQV <I signed up to it!

  • Henry

    Let’s get all this is perspective. According to the FT, 28% of Tory donations since 2006 have come from the city & property sectors. And a GMB study showed that 63 Tory PPCs were from a banking or finance background. So do we really think that these bankers – who played a major role in screwing up the world economy – are not going to have a major impact on Conservative policies?

  • http://www.tdsays.blogspot.com Tyler

    It is pretty hypocritical of Labour regarding the Ashcroft situation, especially considering the position of Lord Paul.

    What is more alarming though is the situation regarding UNITE, who effectively bankroll much of the Labour party. Labour has diverted significant TAXPAYER money to unions for “restructuring and developement”. Somehow much of that money finds it’s way back into Labour party coffers. Essentially Labour are funding themselves from Taxpayers money, through the back door.

  • Peter Good

    And Labour’s defence? We shopped the Tories first!!! What a hypocritical bunch of class envy loonies you are!

  • http://twitter.com/1cheerfulman/status/9191267206 Larry Gardiner

    RT @Jessica_Asato: RT @leftfootfwd: Facebook group on Lord Ashcroft’s tax status piles on the pressure: http://is.gd/8voQV <I signed up to it!

  • Henry

    The question about Ashcroft’s £5 million donations – which is being very slowly investigated by the Electoral Commission – is whether his company Bearwood is actually carrying out business in the UK. If it’s not, & it’s merely a conduit for money from abroad, then his donations are legal & will have to be repaid.

    I’m not aware that there are similar questions about donations by Lord Paul & his company.

  • Will Straw

    Thanks for the comments. One point appears to have been missed, and it’s a fundamental difference between Lord Ashcroft and all the other examples outlined above: No-one, including it seems his boss Eric Pickles, knows whether Ashcroft is a non-dom. All the facebook group is asking for is transparency.


  • http://www.timworstall.com Tim Worstall

    Isn’t Ronnie Cohen a non dom as well?


    Lakshmi Mittal…Mahmoud Khayami?

    BTW, it really does annoy me the way people keep failing to make this disticntion. As far as we know the deal was that to get the peerage Ashcroft had to become resident for UK taxation. If he’s here more than 91 days a year then he’s managed that.

    Dom or non dom is an entirely diffrent matter. And as far as we know, no one’s insisted that he become dom in order to keep the peerage. Like, of course, Lord Paul ain’t.

  • Left foot fan

    OBAMA and Bernanke are featured in a movie– about greedy hedge funds called “Stock Shock.” Even though the movie mostly focuses on Sirius XM stock being naked short sold nearly into bankruptcy (5 cents/share), I liked it because it exposes the dark side of Wall Street and revealed some of their secrets. DVD is everywhere but cheaper at http://www.stockshockmovie.com

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