Ashcroft told: pay your taxes or don't donate to the Tories

by Stephen Tall on July 14, 2009

As the Telegraph reports:

Lord Ashcroft, the major Conservative donor, will be forced to reveal whether he pays tax or stop funding the party, under new election rules. The move is seen as a direct attack on the peer, a Tory deputy party chairman who has bankrolled Conservative candidates in marginal constituencies to the outrage of opposition politicians.

On being made a Conservative peer in 2000, Lord Ashcroft gave an assurance that he would pay UK taxes, but has since refused to discuss his affairs saying that they are private. … The amendment, which was nodded through without a vote on Monday night, would effectively ban anyone who did not pay taxes donating more than £7,500 in a single year.

It was an interesting debate if the Hansard transcript is any guide. You can read Lib Dem shadow justice secretary David Howarth’s contribution HERE, excerpt below:

The principle behind the amendments and the original proposal in the House of Lords is simply that those who seek to distance themselves financially from this country by using their tax status to reduce their tax liability have, by that very act, distanced themselves from monetary participation in politics. That is different from participation as a voter. It seems absolutely crucial to make that distinction, especially as the Government have now introduced proposals—about which I am fairly relaxed—that mean that the rule applies only when the sum of £7,500 is involved. That is a very large donation, in my view. … I am not denying that people who go abroad have the right to vote, but I am saying that those who go abroad and then seek to change their tax status to reduce their liability distance themselves from monetary aspects of the political system of this country in a way that should lead to a restriction on their right to influence others through money. …

Throughout the debates on the Bill, for almost a year, the Government have said that it is not possible to make any further progress with the Hayden Phillips proposals, with the cap on donations that would apply to everyone, with global spending restrictions and with a fair resolution of the relationship between the Labour party and the unions, because there was no consensus. In effect, the Conservative party had a veto on any progress on those matters. We now reach this late stage on the Bill and … the Government have broken that consensus. … I am glad that the consensus on this matter has been broken. I simply regret that it was not broken earlier.

David gave a slightly pithier quote to the Telegraph, though:

“Jack Straw has finally bowed to pressure from across Parliament. Now Tory donors will have to pay their dues to the country before they pay their subs to the Conservatives.”

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David Howarth never fails to impress.

by Simon R. on July 14, 2009 at 2:14 pm. Reply #

Does the name Michael Brown mean anything to you?

by simon on July 14, 2009 at 2:28 pm. Reply #

Return the ill gotten gains of the fraudster , Nick Clegg. It is very dangerous ground for any party to try and play holier than thou on party donations. The labour Union connection is disgraceful.

by vj on July 14, 2009 at 2:51 pm. Reply #

“I am saying that those who go abroad and then seek to change their tax status to reduce their liability distance themselves from monetary aspects of the political system of this country in a way that should lead to a restriction on their right to influence others through money.”

Translates as: “We don’t like the fact that Ashcroft is pouring money into marginals so we’re going to spite him.”

by Richard on July 14, 2009 at 3:33 pm. Reply #

What’s “disgraceful” about the party of labour having a membership/affiliation/levy relationship with organised labour and the latter not having a relationship with parties who oppose the NMW and in their heart of hearts seem to oppose the idea of worker social partner organisations?

We need to claw back all Ashcroft’s donations on the “how does it look” rule rather than the “within the (flexed) rules” approach of old.

Ashcroft is interfering/invetsing in four or five sovereign nations and counting. This is not on. No representation (or sponsorship of representatives) without taxation.

by Chris Paul on July 14, 2009 at 4:04 pm. Reply #

According to Today in Parliament, this piece of legislation won’t hit Ashcroft anyway, because he gives through legitimate UK-based companies. I don’t know who would be affected by this, but it obviously isn’t Lord Ashcroft of Belize.

by Foregone Conclusion on July 14, 2009 at 4:08 pm. Reply #

Now we need a limit on all donations.

by Simon R. on July 14, 2009 at 5:09 pm. Reply #

Ashcroft money made a great deal of difference in the last general election in Hammersmith and Fulham – so many leaflets, so much colour, so many sizes.

by Biodiesel on July 14, 2009 at 5:46 pm. Reply #

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