Now even the Telegraph calls on Tories to make Lord Ashcroft “come clean” over tax status

by Stephen Tall on December 21, 2009

The decision of the Tory party to turn a blind eye to the mysterious tax status of their deputy chairman – and the man who funds their marginal seats campaign – has come under close media scrutiny in the last few weeks, with Lib Dem deputy leader Vince Cable last week raising the issue at (Deputy) Prime Minister’s Questions, and labelling Lord (Michael) Ashcroft a “non-dom”.

A week ago, Lib Dem treasury spokesman Lord (Matthew) Oakeshott wrote to his fellow peer to put the the simple question – “Are you a non-dom or not?” – to him directly: no answer as yet. It’s an issue Matthew has been pursuing for some years – see, for example, this story on LDV – Lib Dem peer attacks Lord Offshore Ashcroft – from July 2007.

Now the Tory party’s house journal, The Daily Telegraph, has also turned its attentions on Lord Ashcroft, and gives some sound advice to David Cameron, who so far has shown himself completely unable to stand up to his biggest donor:

The tax status of Lord Ashcroft, the Tory deputy chairman, remains something of an enigma – one that Labour will exploit mercilessly between now and polling day. It featured in last week’s PM’s Questions, for example. Mr Cameron has promised to legislate to bar so-called non-doms from sitting in either House of Parliament. Better still, he could simply ask Lord Ashcroft to take a lead from the shadow cabinet and come clean.

After all, if the Tory leader is unable to stand up to his friends when he’s in opposition and enjoys a large opinion poll lead, how much less likely is he to do it in government, and finds himself increasingly dependent on his closest supporters?