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Lord Ashcroft donations 'legal and permissible'

Nick Robinson | 11:40 UK time, Thursday, 4 March 2010

Lord AshcroftSources have told the BBC that the Electoral Commission has cleared as "legal and permissible" donations made by a company Lord Ashcroft controls, Bearwood Corporate Services.

The report, expected out later today, will be read carefully however for any possible criticisms.

I understand that, contrary to internet rumours, Lord Ashcroft is not resigning as deputy chairman of the Conservative Party.

Update, 12:20: We've been waiting many, many months for the outcome of the Electoral Commission's investigation into donations to the Conservative Party by a company called Bearwood Corporate Services which is controlled by Lord Ashcroft.

Doubts have been raised about the legality of those donations, the suggestion being that they might have been used to channel foreign money, in effect, to the Tory party against the law that bans that.

I have been told that that investigation, which will be published later today, will clear Lord Ashcroft's donations, clear the Conservative Party and that those donations will be described as "legal and permissible".

Now of course this is a detailed study that has taken around 18 months. There will therefore be a lot of careful study of the language that the commission uses because, although the donations may be legal, people will be very keen to know if the commission has any criticism in the report.


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  • Comment number 1.

    And what does the electoral commission have to say about Lord Paul, one wonders?

    Call an election.

  • Comment number 2.

    Good, let us now go back to what we should have been talking about all along, prior to this distraction and that is Mandy must resign now!!!!!!

  • Comment number 3.


    Right now lets have you asking question about Labour and Lib Dem None Dom's with same gusto that you have singly focused on Ashcroft for the "last 10 years" as you put it.

    Can you tell me how many questions you have asked of Labour and Lib Dem peers in those last 10 Years?

  • Comment number 4.

    Read carefully for any criticisms by whom Nick?

    Ones that you will no doubt open another blog to tell us all about, whilst watching Rome burn over Jonah Brown's shoulder....

  • Comment number 5.

    Why should he resign. He has paid a lot of money for his position of power. In his case, determining our future in this democracy has been paid for with money. That some of us cannot afford to gain power through cash is our problem.

    But then, does the democratic process allow obtaining power through being rich. Does our system of governance give power to those who can pay for it ? Because my understanding of democracy is that the people select who will govern them and that buying power was not acceptable. Or maybe it is acceptable if you are a Conservative.

    It is "well weird" because until recently Cameron had my vote. Now definitely not - but then, whilst Labours rich who have purchased power are in some respects in "the same boat" at least they did not promise to become full UK taxpayers and then break that promise. They just paid their party loads of money and in return seemed to get appointed to positions of power - though I doubt a causative link could be proven in court.

    This sort of thing, speaks volumes about the higher echelons of those in the political system whilst the expenses situation speaks volumes of those lower down the political ladder. But together they clearly demonstrate how unsuited to power our politicians really are. We deserve better. The question is how to use your vote to move towards "better".

  • Comment number 6.

    Oh Dear! Now poor Hattie Harperson will have to find some other non-story to avoid answering questions on government performance and policy.

  • Comment number 7.

    Quite frankly this business over Lord Ashcroft is doing nothing but show Labour in a panic over their own problems. They have no room to complain when Union's bank roll the Labour party to the tune of millions and worse, influence decision making by the government as a result. I haven't seen the PM or the business secratary condem the proposed strike action at BA for example.

  • Comment number 8.

    Why should he resign precisely? Arranging your tax matters in a beneficial way is scarcely a problem. And unlike many from the commons, he was not flagrantly abusing 2nd/ 1st home loopholes.

    The only issue here is whether he has broken a guarantee he made. But lets face it, he would scarcely be the first politician to break a promise (cough, referendum on Europe, cough). At least this promise has nothing whatsoever to do with anyone apart from himself and the tax man.

    I dislike the tone of the article on the bbc page. Something which by all reasonable measures exonerates him, and the reporter goes to pains to point out "but this isn't the real issue".

    Seems like nothing so much as a sustained attack on a political party by a supposedly independent body. I'm usually the last to cry about the beeb's lack of independence, but this one is starting to smell quite fishy.

  • Comment number 9.

    It seems telling to me that the best comment the Conservatives could come up with about the Ashcroft donations is that they were 'legal and permissable'. It appears that gone is the rhetoric about a new age in politics and Mr Cameron's pledges to be transparent and do what is 'right'. To me it seems that this is an echo of the old tories in that they immediately retreat to the letter of the law and not the spirit of it when faced with ethical questions.

  • Comment number 10.

    What source would this be someone in the Tory Party. lets see what the report actually says. Some reports are stating that the verdict is "not proven" due the exteremly comples web of companies set-up to facilitate the donation.. One question why the need for such a complex web of companies and why was Bearwood put into liquidation on Monday on the same day Aschcroft was foced to reveal his tax status?

  • Comment number 11.

    Now will you give it a rest and start covering the things normal people are interested in?

  • Comment number 12.

    This is just convoluted nonsence!
    It goes to show that money talks and money walks (anywhere it wants).
    For years, Lord Ashcroft has been donating through Bearwood Corporate Services Ltd (BCS); this while foreign donations to British parties are prohibited.
    I can see the trick of it because BCS is registered in the UK. The key question then would become: does BCS “carry on business in the UK”? Apparently it must because Electoral Commission guidelines say:
    1) Is the company UK registered and
    2) Is the company trading?
    I can’t wait for the report.
    Meanwhile back to Lord Ashcroft’s letter (2000) written to Mr. Hague (I found this letter on the Intrnet.). In this letter Ashcroft committed to “take up permanent residence in the UK” when he joined the House of Lords.
    I hope that if it is proven he is non-resident that Lord Asjcroft is unmade.

  • Comment number 13.


    any news on Labour non doms?

    Lord Paul – £69,250 in donations to Labour, including £45,000 to Gordon Brown’s leadership campaign. A close friend of Gordon Brown and appointed to the Privy Council last summer, he has admitted to being ‘non-dom’.
    • Lakshmi Mittal - £4.125 million in donations to Labour.
    • Sir Ronald Cohen - £2.55 million in donations to Labour. Cohen was appointed chair of the Social Investment Taskforce, which was announced by the then Chancellor, Gordon Brown.
    • Sir Christopher Ondaatje - £1.7 million in donations to Labour.
    • Sir Gulam Noon - £532,826 in donations to Labour.
    • William Bollinger - £510,725 in donations to Labour.
    • Mahmoud Khayami - £985,000 in donations to Labour including £5,000 to Hazel Blears’ deputy leadership campaign. He has helped bankroll two flagship schools, one of which Gordon Brown opened, and was personally thanked for a donation by Tony Blair.
    • Dr David Potter - £90,000 in a donation to Labour. He has previously delivered a lecture at Downing Street.

  • Comment number 14.


  • Comment number 15.

    Ha, good. Now Milliband can take that smirk off his face.

  • Comment number 16.

    So, Have you finished trying to beat a dead horse then?

    Plenty of live ones in the Labour Party you could use the same stick on.

  • Comment number 17.

    This Electoral Commission thing is a sideshow. Ashcorft must resign, as should Hague. They both made commitments which have been shown to be false. We still don't know when Cameron knew about this situation. Further Ashcroft's title should be removed & all monies he has donated over the past 10 years returned.

    Anything less clearly demonstrates that the top of the Tory party believes that its one rule for them & another rule for the plebs (you & me).

    Same old Tory party - how clean are they?

  • Comment number 18.


    Currently fuss is being made by Labour politicians that there was some sort of 'assumption' that Ashcroft agreed to become a UK domicile in order to become a Lord.

    Will you be asking these Labour politicians why Ashcroft would be required to become UK domiciled when Lord Paul was not so asked?

    Or isn't that the sort of question you ask?

  • Comment number 19.

    So Nick,

    When are you going to ask Labour (specifically Mr Mandelson) to explain why they're so keen to take the tax revenue of a poor country like Belize ?

  • Comment number 20.

    "Legal and permissible" sounds just like the language from the "expenses" row, a typical political "spin" on something that really needs to be dealt with on grounds of morality. Many in our legal system seem to have forgotten the importance of morality in dispensing justice, but then, of course, is there any morality in sending out enormous bills every day of the week?

    I wonder just how much this little adventure in making an ass of the law cost?

  • Comment number 21.

    What have you got against Ashcroft?

    Lots of people who conduct their business multinationally enter into arrangements to ensure that they contribute a fair amount wherever they earn - think about a top-flight opera singer or a sportsman competing in competitions around the world in the likes of golf or tennis. They earn money in many countries, who all have rules about how people employed in that country should be taxed.

    Or is it just because Ashcroft's hobby is politics, rather than my opera singer friend who likes to garden when he's at home and not singing on the international stage?

    Or is it because Ashcroft is a Conservative rather than a supporter of another party?

  • Comment number 22.

    Nick Robinson hasn't even tried to hide his pro-Labour bias today. The Electoral Commission has cleared as "legal and permissible" donations made by Lord Ashcroft's UK company, but instead of accepting this Mr Robinson continues to suggest some wrongdoing.
    Is tomorrow's blog going to tell us that although there's no proof that David Cameron eats live babies there's no proof that he doesn't either?

  • Comment number 23.

    NR can you now ask the libs and lab about there non-doms ie exactly the same question that you have been asking about lord ashcroft

    you know for the sake of balance.

  • Comment number 24.

    So Ashcroft's donations were legal and permissable? I seem to re-call that's what they said about MP's expenses.It all comes down to morals and principles doesn't it?

  • Comment number 25.

    How one-sided can you possibly get? Ashcroft "stories" constantly at the top of all the BBC news output, but absolutely no mention of the labour "stories".

    Yesterday Hague wiped the floor with Harman, pointing out the dodgy aspects of the labour government, but no mention of that on the BBC at all, oh no, not on good old beeb; instead the BBC highlights only Harman's original snipe but doesn't mention the corresponding snipe-back that Hague made which made Harman look like an idiot.

    No mention by the BBC of the labour non-doms, or the other labour donors where the potential for corruption is obvious.

    Has the BBC given up even trying to pretend that they're balanced?

    How about the man who shall remain nameless (because if he's named then the blog entry would get banned) who donated huge amounts of cash to labour, and subsequently got a peerage, and a huge pfi contract for his company, and now wanders around the country at tax payers expense giving advice to people on how to run a business where there are obvious conflicts of interest on that advice because of what his company does/sells?

    How can the BBC be balanced when the people who aren't even in power get subjected to constant innuendo by the BBC, yet the people who actually are in power never even get talked about?

  • Comment number 26.

    NR can yuo compare the ashcroft issue to the funding by the USSR and other communist states to the "left" in the period 1930-1980's

    maybe rank then

    Ashcroft sunday league maybe bit part players
    USSR UEFA champions league winners year after year

  • Comment number 27.

    oh yeah

    RED ROBBO first Division

  • Comment number 28.

    Also there must be some "laobour" MP's of the last 30 years that
    would have benifited from any third party funding in there past to get themselves on the ladder

  • Comment number 29.

    it must be less that 100 days before we HAVE to have an election ?

  • Comment number 30.

    This is beginning to look like a personal vendetta by the BBC against Lord Ashcroft. The man appears to have done nothing illegal and just because the Labour Party are fearful of his influence in getting candidates more actively engaged in their constituencies (is this a bad thing?), they are showing the highest degree of hypocracy. After all, the Labour party (Whilst in government I might add) has been shown to have recieved monies in return for influence... Ecclestone, Goon, Mittal etc... why no outcry about these cases?
    The Ashcroft money is merely a small percentage of the funds raised by the candidates in the marginals and most of that money is from small individual donations due to the fact the PPC are actually convincing electors in their constituencies that they would be good for them. Much better that than the Labour party receiving huge donations from the Unions in return for actually guiding Government policy in tyheir favour.... Post Office anyone. This is the greater scandal of our times. Now that employment rights are now enshrined in law , what do the unions actually do except feed the decline of UK businesses (BA, Post Office etc)? As I say, it looks more and more like a personal vendetta and Labour are getting the BBC to do the donkey work! How about reporting the failings of this Labour Government (instead of parroting their lobby briefings as news) and give the people some impartial reporting for a change.

  • Comment number 31.

    So they found a way for Ashcroft to become a peer, then the Labour Governemnt agreed to loosen those rules a couple of weeks after a discussion between Ashcroft's people and a senior civil servant. Then Labour took some donations from Nom Doms under the same rules as Ashcroft and made those people peers. whats the problem? Thats the way our political system has worked since it was invented, if you dont like it stop voting bleating about it and demand a elected second chambre

  • Comment number 32.

    Corruption in politics is as old as... bryhers, how old is it?

  • Comment number 33.

    Quoted from various reputable sources:

    "A recent analysis found that every Labour donor who has given more than £1m has received a peerage or a knighthood"

    "Since 2001, when the Electoral Commission began detailing political donations, the government has bestowed honours on 12 of the 14 individuals who have given Labour more than £200,000"

    "Of the 22 who donated more than £100,000, 17 received honours"

    "Suzanne Evans, a statistician at Birkbeck, University of London, found Labour donors are three times more likely to be honoured than Tory backers. “The probability that this difference could have occurred by chance is less than three in 1,000. Statistics cannot prove cause and effect but the results should arouse concern,” she said."

    "Sir Alan Sugar, the Amstrad electronics magnate, donated £200,000 to the Labour party on the same day that one of his companies won a lucrative place on a list of preferred Government suppliers."

    Maybe the BBC should use google every now and then, as it seems apparent from BBC blog entries and reporting that they're not aware of these facts.

  • Comment number 34.

    Nick - Now can you do a blog on how Mandleson could afford to buy his London villa and how it is he was upright enough to have been given a peerage.
    Let's also have a blog on the labour donors.

    Nick are you afraid of Mnaldeson?

  • Comment number 35.

    4 post on lord ashcroft and nothing about this country going to hell in handbasket, a strange set of priorities.

    Any more news on Corus and the C02 vochers and the jobless and the labour donar involved ?

  • Comment number 36.

    #22 it so reminds me of the family Courts and the guilt by association mantra that they follow.

    Just shows you what is wrong with this country

  • Comment number 37.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 38.

    I remain totally baffled by all this fuss about one man.

    Surely someone who the labour party fear so much because he is so clever at planning and organisation is quite capable of organising his own affairs so they comply with the tax rules and those of being in the House of Lords.

    Harriet Harman's voice has definitely gone up an octave as she constantly shrills out more venom against this man. It's getting too painful to listen to.

    And John Mann gets more and more desperate and now wants to throw all non doms out of the Lords including his own peers.

    It's become farcical and degrading so until someone comes up with proper evidence of wrongdoing they should all shut up before they open up their own cans of worms.

  • Comment number 39.

    You're struggling on this one. The commission has said it was all legal, but you are going to look through the small print for the slightest criticism!?
    I might even be tempted to resort to LOL!

  • Comment number 40.



  • Comment number 41.

    mr robinson,

    They are loads of questions for the labour party to answer(many by posters above)for me why did'nt the labour party change the law on non doms(ban them),is it because they had loads of non doms paying into the labour party.

    The labour govenment have been in power 13 years,with massive majoritys,why did'nt the law change in that time ? answers nick.

  • Comment number 42.

    I guess people do not listen very well. Politicans all state that contributions have no impact on policy. Ask the bankers, they will tell you the same thing. Governments are like housing investments, they have lost a lot of their value.

  • Comment number 43.

    Do we seriously think the British people will continue to be taken in by these "less than whiter-than-white" practices?

    Er......... yes, probably!!

  • Comment number 44.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 45.


    Can you inform us about the projects in the "Union Modernisation Fund" that appears to fund projects that should be paid for by Union membership dues thereby freeing up money to contribute to the Labour Party.

    Needless to say that it is funded by the Department for Business innovation and Skills. Guess who is the Minister in charge; its Peter Mandelson, twice sacked minister in previous labour administrations.

    Call an inquiry.

  • Comment number 46.

    I think its time for the Tories to grow some on this.

    Every time a BBC or other Journo ask the Ashcroft question they should say.

    I will not answer anymore questions on that subject until you have started asking the same questions about Labour and the Lib Dem non doms.

    And point blank refuse until they do.

    The bias against one party is manifest.

  • Comment number 47.

    Gosh, what a surprise. A committee of political insiders find that a politician who is clearly as bent as a nine-bob note acted "within the rules".

    The idea that Labour and the Tories are somehow enemies of each other is the biggest bit of political spin of them all. The real battle lines are drawn between the political establishment and the ordinary voters. Please let's not be fooled.

  • Comment number 48.

    A man of intelligence, influence and wealth who would be welcome in many countries wants to be part of the disaster area we call Britain.
    I think that is something to celebrate !

  • Comment number 49.

    17. manuinlondon wrote:

    "This Electoral Commission thing is a sideshow. Ashcorft must resign, as should Hague. They both made commitments which have been shown to be false. We still don't know when Cameron knew about this situation. Further Ashcroft's title should be removed & all monies he has donated over the past 10 years returned.

    Anything less clearly demonstrates that the top of the Tory party believes that its one rule for them & another rule for the plebs (you & me).

    Same old Tory party - how clean are they?"

    In 1997 Tony Blair told a blatant lie about a donation from Bernie Ecclestone which was only uncovered by an FOI request. He didn't resign, in fact despite that and a history of deception and untruths, he's now making a fortune.
    If parliament lived by your rules the Labour Party would more than likely be halved.

    Try some objectivity, it's free and it doesn't contribute to global warming.

  • Comment number 50.


    " Ashcorft (sic) must resign, as should Hague. They both made commitments which have been shown to be false."

    OK then...does the same apply to Brown who made a commitment to end boom and bust..and that we were best placed to recover from the recession.. which were both false?

  • Comment number 51.

    The labour party machine is again in full swing. This time joined by Chris Huhne of the liberal democrats.

    Wonder what job he's been promised in a hung parliament?

    At PM's questions yesterday Harman was asked how her husband had been parachuted into a safe labour women only shortlist seat.

    Her only answer to all the questions she was asked seemed to be Lord Ashcroft! Lord Ashcroft.

    What a turn off this whole election is going to be and they wonder why the younger generation are totally disillusioned with the lot of them.

  • Comment number 52.

    From BBC
    "It is now clear that the continuing attacks on Michael Ashcroft are part of a politically motivated campaign orchestrated by the Labour Party in advance of the general election in order to distract attention from the real issues facing this country." (Tory comment)

    But Labour MP Gordon Prentice said the public administration select committee had decided to hold a "special one-off inquiry" into Lord Ashcroft's peerage and his tax affairs on 18 March.

    The peer revealed this week that he did not pay UK tax on his overseas earnings, apparently at odds with assurances given to ex-Tory leader William Hague when he was given a seat in the Lords.

    Commons Leader Harriet Harman told MPs: "I welcome the decision this morning by the Public Administration Committee that they are going to do an inquiry into this matter, but I'm afraid I can't offer to tone down my views on this. The truth is that this is sleaze on a multi-million pound scale."

    Pure hypocrisy on a grand scale from Labour, how long are they going to slutter on this instead of getting down to the real issues, like the eventual bankruptcy of this country if they do not act.

    It is no wonder that 3.5 million voters are not registered this lot have driven them to self exemption.

  • Comment number 53.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 54.

    Well, to my increasingly practised eye there seem to be lot of new posters, on both sides of the fence, on this blog topic!

    Nick, and everyone - I presume that Lord Ashcroft pays taxes (at whatever level) on his earnings in Belize. Now, I am so unconcerned about this issue that I cannot be bothered to find out if Belize has a 'double taxation' treaty with the UK. But if he pays taxes in Belize on his Belize income, why should he have to pay AGAIN on the same income in the UK?

    I pay tax on my teacher's pension in the UK - and the amount I have paid is taken into account here in France as a 'deduction' from the French tax on my GLOBAL income. So is all this rubbish (could use a moderateable word) just another example of the politics of envy? To judge by the deafening silence from Mme Harpic on Lord Paul etc, I guess so!

  • Comment number 55.

    So, Nick.....

    "Pegal and Permissable" is a bad thing to say, is it? You seem to think so, given your tone. Also, given the tone from Mandleson, Harman, Milliband, and no doubt Brown as well.

    I wonder what our PM will say when he is asked tomorrow whether the invasion of Iraq was 'legal and permissible'? That appears to be the line of defence they tok, and you swallowed that one pretty quickly.

    And what about all the other times we've had 'didn't actually break the letter of the law' thrown out as a defense (not just over expenses, but with cases like Baroness Scotland and her illegal immigrant staff, to quote but one example)

    Can I repeat the calls above for you to strap on a spine for once and ask the Labour Party hierarchy about their non-dom donors, the level of donations to peerages that Labour supporters get, the level of influence that the Unions get for their donations, etc......

    Otherwise, you are leaving yourself open to accusations of political bias, and we all know you wouldn't want that, don't we?

  • Comment number 56.

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain.

  • Comment number 57.

    For me the issue here is now not


    we know what we think of our politans. The issue especially in the run up to an election

    Is how can all of the focus go on one party?

    And why do the BBC refuse to ask the same questions of all parties?

    Surely if you suspect wrong doing then you should seek it wherever it is to be found?

  • Comment number 58.

    Lord Ashcroft is a non dom and a Lord and he pays no tax on non UK income not remitted to the UK.

    Lord Paul is a non dom and a Lord and he pays no tax on non UK income not remitted to the UK.

    Nick, see if you twist a diference out of those two sentences. I'm sure if you trawl through the 'fine print' long enough you will find one.

  • Comment number 59.


    "But together they clearly demonstrate how unsuited to power our politicians really are. We deserve better."

    No you dont.

    Judging by half of the brain dead Pavlovian comments on here, I'd say you deserve exactly what you get.

  • Comment number 60.

    Ken Clarke, speaking on BBC Two's The Daily Politics, dismissed the controversy over Lord Ashcroft as "Westminster village stuff" and claimed "most people will be bewildered by it".

    yes Ken we are bewildered by the extent & stench of sleaze that surrounds the Tories. You of all people should not be trying to sweep this under the carpet.

    What's happened to Cameron's claims of a new age in politics etc etc

  • Comment number 61.

    So Nick,

    Any comment from Mandleson on these latest developments?

    I believe he can be contacted at:

    Department of Stone Throwing
    Ministry of Hippocracy
    The Glass House
    1 Desperation Street
    Notting Hill W11

    I'm sure his thoughts on the matter would be... erm... enlightening?

  • Comment number 62.

    Nick I am losing all respect for your impartiality. You need to update this post. Furthermore, the main story needs to be updated. The EC have admitted that CCHQ did not refuse to meet with them, and have agreed to amend the report.

    Can no-one tell me why Lord Ashcroft should be required to be domiciled in the UK, but not Labour Peers.

    This smear campaign by the Labour Party stinks, and you seem to be swallowing NuLabours lies. Shame on you and the BBC.

  • Comment number 63.

    Hello....Ordinary man on the street here....supporter of no political party.

    This is just another glimpse into the corrupt Westminster world. To think that someone who lives in Belieze has a great deal of control in British politics is a disgrace. We all know that this is not the exception but the rule with donations, so many special interests support all parties and to watch you all try and accuse each other and deny any wrong doing is a joke. Its hilarious to watch David Cameron try and be decisive and "drawn a line under it" and now it looks like any blame will be shifted to William Hague. The ridiculous denials and accusastions by all parties may satisfy the brainwashed middle classes but not the underclass, the working class, the mob. But hey the politicians only need the middle class to vote, hence the battle over the centre ground in politics.

    Nothing has changed, just like expenses we have seen a glipmse of the corruption in the political/business classes. I damn you essence a rich business benefactor has more clout in this country than millions of voters...we live under a thin veil of "democracy"

    All politicians, journalists, business leaders, party benefactors, the Westminster club run this country for the benefit of themselves, their friends and the special benefactors.

    You are all sowing the seeds of a dangerous future. I will not vote and neither will a vast majority of people my age. To vote is to give legitimacy to a corrupt and un representative political system run for the benefit of the few.

  • Comment number 64.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 65.

    Re #47.

    Wise words indeed! It seems Labour is the same as Tory is the same as Labour with Liberal not even past the starting gate; all as bad as each other, all in it for their own ends. Perhaps one day the British public will wake up and realise?

  • Comment number 66.

    From WHICH
    Details of Gordon's new showroom tax on cars

    "The new ‘10’ number plates may be available from 1 March, but from 1 April, the government is introducing a one-off 'showroom tax' that takes the form of an increase in the rate of Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) for the first year of ownership.

    Just like car tax, this one-off showroom tax will be dependent on your new car’s CO2 emissions. So that either means you could be looking at some substantial savings post 1 April, or you may have just a few weeks left to avoid paying hundreds of pounds in additional tax.

    There will be no showroom tax levied on cars emitting up to 130g/km, but buyers of any vehicle that emits more than 255g/km CO2, for example, will soon have to fork out £950 for the first year’s road tax"

    More tax to waste

  • Comment number 67.

    All this matters not one jot to the electorate. Joe the Plumber out here.#

    Joe the Plumber has made up his / her (and those who have not made up their minds which gender they are) mind that they want Brown out.

    Do you think all this pontificating about somebody you are jealous of in the House of Lords will make them vote Labour? Er no. What part of the sentence "the public want Brown out" do you not understand?

    Oh, I say, and by the way Her Majesty wants him out too. Her wish should be granted - she would hate to depart this earth leaving HIM in charge of her beloved country.

  • Comment number 68.

    So a man with completely legal and agreed tax status, makes completely legal donations.

    Go Nick, front page story I would think, must be good for a few more digs at the Tories eh?

    And as to the Labour non-doms............tumble weed..........

  • Comment number 69.

    The Ashcroft affair is not just a Tory affliction. Labour’s most notorious non-dom funder is a recent addition to the House of Lords (Lord Paul) and the Lib Dems appear to be receiving funds from Bhanu, Sudhir and Dhruv Choudhrie. All three parties are, at best, involved in receiving money deceitfully if not illegally. The rules for who can be a legitimate donor are not 100% clear-cut (see, but suffice it to say I am sure all three parties will have managed to skirt around the muddy waters of the legislation.

    In short the donor, if an individual, has to be registered as a voter in the UK or if a company has to be EU based and carrying on trading in the UK. Surely the rules could be tightened further to exclude non-doms?

    The large parties are all open to corruption by receiving large sums from people who want to influence them. Hexham has a Prospective Candidate who does not fall into that category and will be truly Independent. Dr Steven Ford is a man of integrity who has an open campaign and is here to represent the constituency. If you want honest government then you need to look at people like him and away from the three established parties.

  • Comment number 70.

    sagamix licking his wounds?

    Still no word on sagamix following Nana Mouskouri's example and donating his entire pension to help with the budget deficit?

    Still no word on sagamix in denial about the real poll on betfair predicting a tory majority rather than the surprise poll from YouGov?

    Still no word on sagamix's policies of 'altruism for you, all the pies for me' policies?

    Call an election.

  • Comment number 71.

    60. manuinlondon:

    "What's happened to Cameron's claims of a new age in politics etc etc"

    What happened to the "Whiter than white" Labour Party? (Quote, Tony Blair)

    Try some objectivity. It's free and 100% organic.

  • Comment number 72.

    "You are all sowing the seeds of a dangerous future. I will not vote and neither will a vast majority of people my age. To vote is to give legitimacy to a corrupt and un representative political system run for the benefit of the few."

    With respect... if you dont vote, you can hardly grumble about the outcome. If you feel everyone else who is standing is corrupt, why dont you stand yourself? Or vote for an independent? Voting doesnt mean you have to sustain the duopoly.

    What has led to this point has been the apathy of large sections of the voting public and the complete inability they have to demand higher standards of their political elite.

  • Comment number 73.

    61 Keyboardmonkey...

    no,no, no, mate. Lord Mandleson has changed his address to:

    Butter Wouldn't Melt
    13 Mortgage Application Street
    Falsifaction Park
    (nr Passport Lane)

    LO4 D5

    Call an election.

  • Comment number 74.

    Move along now - nothing more to see here - time now to look at the other Bench in the Lords perhaps?

  • Comment number 75.

    Whatever the ins-and-outs of it, one thing is for sure, as reported by the astute Ann Treneman in yestersday Times ... Dave has lost his 'mojo', presumably temporarily, over this matter.

    Dave must hope that Alastair Campbell's dictum is true i.e. no political story lasts for more than about 12 days.

  • Comment number 76.

    So a rich man gets to buy his way into the House of Lords.
    He gets to influence the laws in the U.K.
    It may be legal.......but is it moral?
    Does anyone care any more?

  • Comment number 77.

    Labour's Dr Tony Wright, the chairman,

    has allowed

    Labour's Gordon Prentice - who has long campaigned on the issue of Lord Ashcroft's tax status - managed to win a vote to hold a special one-off evidence session on "Propriety and Peerages".


    What is the balance of membership of this committee?

    As far as I'm concerned the running of this country has ceased and Labour are in full election attack dog mode.

    All decent MP's should walk out when this takes place and stay only if all Non Doms are investigated.

    We need an election now to cleans this dump.

  • Comment number 78.

    ashcroft and cameron should resign, this is typical posh tories doing what they do best, screwing the nation.

  • Comment number 79.


    actually, I may be wrong.. Lord Mandleson may have moved to:

    Call Me Old Fashioned
    2 Times Sacked Avenue
    Toystown Out of the Pram
    Great Chuffed to bits I'm Backford

    N0T VoTed 1N

    Call an election

  • Comment number 80.

    Nothing to see here, ladies and gentlemen. Move along, please.

  • Comment number 81.


    until you address peoples points about asking the same questions to Labour & the Lib Dem you can no credibility what so ever on this.

    And as for that shame committee meeting on Ashcroft I wait to see how you play that in your report.

  • Comment number 82.

    NoPolitics @ 63

    Hello....Ordinary man on the street here....supporter of no political party.

    Just like me, in fact, except I'm a bit older.

    You say bye, bye, Britain.

    I too cannot wait to see the back of {political} Britain and the rebirth of England.

    I read your previous posts and they are authentic and moving and I agree with you that the people who currently constitute the 'political' class have let us English down very badly indeed.

    It is your prerogative to leave for Oz, in fact, one of my sons is there right now on a work permit for a year.

    Good luck if you do go but if you stay, then please use your vote wisely.

    It is the only political power, we, the people of England have and we could ensure that there is not a single 'safe' seat in the land, which is nothing less than the current political class deserve to face.

  • Comment number 83.


    Here's a little task for you. See if you can find out all MPs who were born abroad to non UK citizens OR were born here to first generation immigrants.

    They will ALL currently be non-doms in the eyes of HMRC UNLESS they have made an actual declaration in a tax return that they wish to acquire a UK domicile.

    I've no idea how many there are or which side of the house they sit but surely your sudden interest in non-doms warrants this?

    Unless, of course, those aren't the sort of questions you ask.

  • Comment number 84.

    63. NoPolitics wrote:

    "Hello....Ordinary man on the street here....supporter of no political party.
    You are all sowing the seeds of a dangerous future. I will not vote and neither will a vast majority of people my age. To vote is to give legitimacy to a corrupt and un representative political system run for the benefit of the few."

    Vote Green. Support a derided but worthwhile cause.

  • Comment number 85.

    Still absolutely no word from the BBC about the labour side of things.

    I'm looking forward to this story coming up on the leaders' debates, especially as it's ITV/ITN who'll be chairing the domestic debate and not the BBC.

    If this gets raised as a question/issue during those debates, then Cameron will finally be able to get airtime to highlight the labour side of the story which the BBC (and Sky) have always completely ignored.

    Hague wiped the floor with Harman on this point but the BBC refused to show it, you (the BBC) won't be able to edit-out such a response when it comes to the ITV/ITN debate.

    This kind of thing is where the leaders' debates will prove their worth; it'll give airtime to all the issues which the BBC has always refused to air.

    It'll have 2 effects:
    1) It'll make more swing voters realise just how bad/corrupt/smearing labour are.
    2) It'll make more people realise just how one-sided and pro-labour BBC coverage has been the last few years, and it'll reduce the support for a license fee.

    The BBC might think that bringing up the issue of sleaze during the leaders' debates will hurt Cameron, but I reckon it'll have the opposite effect because since Cameron became leader, the sleaze on the labour side has been far far worse than on the tory side, it's just that the BBC (and Sky) don't seem to report on it.

    I'm starting to wonder if McBride has got a new job working as BBC news editor.

  • Comment number 86.

    Nick - you write:

    "I have been told that that investigation, which will be published later today, will clear Lord Ashcroft's donations, clear the Conservative Party and that those donations will be described as "legal and permissible".... "

    So, not much of a story then, is it? Some people will be so disappointed. Never mind, eh?

    As it turns out, far from doing anything wrong, Lord Ashcroft has actually done the British Taxpayer a huge favour by using his own money to help expose Brown's failing tax-and-waste government!

    Now, move along please.... nothing to see here...

  • Comment number 87.

    # 74 FalmouthBoy

    Sorry, I hadn't read your post before posting my own - but I see great minds think alike!

    (Could this be the Harry Potter defence)?

  • Comment number 88.

    32. At 1:26pm on 04 Mar 2010, TheBlameGame wrote:
    "Corruption in politics is as old as... bryhers, how old is it?"

    The usual expression is old as Methusulah,the issue was never Bearwood.It was the duplicity of public undertakings revoked privately and not disclosed for ten years.

    Democracy cannot function withour transparency,secrecy, with hidden sources of power, subverts the accountability of public organs like political parties.Hague and the conservative leadership wasn`t told of his shabby little deal on the don`t ask,don`t know principle.

    Should they have asked? Of course,it is because the British establishment is allowed to operate in a deeply hierarchical and undemocratic manner that money can be used to buy power.

  • Comment number 89.

    Enough is enough!

    Call the date of the election and put us all out of our misery.

    Dissolve parliament now and put a stop to this labour party machine using our money for this dirty electioneering.

    Once out of power they can do what they like as long as it's their money and not ours they're spending.

  • Comment number 90.


    I think there may just be a little more to run on this story.

    What were the circumstances of the liquidation of Bearwood Holdings in March 2009? Why did it not file accounts in October 2008? What happened to and what was the relationship to Bearwood Corporate Services? It has been alleged that these two companies were connected to Asporta and Belize based Stargate Holdings.

    This blog has more details on it. It appears that the Times newspaper was investigating the story some time ago.

    Where did Bearwood generate their profits from?

    Would it still be legal for Bearwood to donate to the Conservative Party or any UK political party, if the funds had been transferred via these alleged corporate transactions from a Belize based company?

  • Comment number 91.


    Here come the if you dont vote you cant grumble brigade, middle class drones of the elite....if i vote or not it makes no difference, if i stand myself it makes no difference, if i vote for an independant it makes no difference..... to make a difference is to become a multi mullionaire move abroad and make huge donations to political parties so i can get in the house of lords and influence policy....or even join a "think tank" or a union, or a special interest group.

    The point i was trying to make is that we do not live in a democracy...and the the idea that voting actually makes any difference on policy or how the government behaves is idealistic at best.

  • Comment number 92.

    78. edd wrote:

    "ashcroft and cameron should resign, this is typical posh tories doing what they do best, screwing the nation."

    These comments remind me of the Spurs fans shouting racial abuse at one of their former players who dared to switch clubs, ignoring the fact there were players of the same colour in their own squad.

  • Comment number 93.

    How dare Lord Mandelson come out and start complaining (again!) about Lord Ashcroft.

    In case he hadn't noticed, and needed reminding of his very own position, Mandelson is an unelected member of the cabinet in a position of power with a highly dubious record.

    I can't say I'm a fan of William Hague, but I think he summed things up nicely in PMQ's "People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones".

  • Comment number 94.

    Does Mr. Ashcroft OWN the Tory party?

    Does the party leader do what he is ordered to do by Mr. Ashcroft?

    Mr. Ashcroft gave a pledge to be UK resident in-order to get his peerage and he has broken this pledge - the words were that he 'renegotiated' this pledge. How come he could renegotiate such a pledge, and who permitted him do so?

    (To those Tory sycophants on this blog - doesn't it worry you that your party is 'owned' by a Mr. Ashcroft, resident of Belize?)

    Further recent tax cases have held that to be non-domiciled the person must not have ties with the UK at all. (The case went back for 26 years.) That is own property, have the right to use an office (i.e. a desk in Tory central office) and there must be evidence that he/she was indeed only in the UK for a maximum number of days a year (90 odd) and further that these days in the UK were not habitual - such as attending regular meetings or, for example, Party Conferences - so how come Mr Ashcroft can get away with being Non-Domiciled anyway - has he some hold over the HMRC?

    The facts are important - there also appears to be a prima facie case that he obtained a benefit (i.e. a peerage) by deception - so why hasn't he being changed with this criminal offence - who is protecting him?

    PS none of the other party donors gave a pledge to be resident and were open about being non domiciled. They did not give the appearance of dissembling!

  • Comment number 95.

    are these outraged M P's the same people who have been ripping off the taxpayer for goodness knows how long with the expense accounts and house "flipping".

    if they know how much tax the good "Lord" has paid---how do they know as this is surely confidential information !.

    and perhaps Lord Mandelson could tell us how much tax he paid when he was on his "jolly" in Europe at the taxpayers expense--but perhaps not has he couldn't fill in a simple mortgage application.

  • Comment number 96.

    The Electoral Commission is made up of politicians from all parties, and will clear Lord Ashcroft’s donations as LEGAL and PERMISSIBLE.

    The whole story started from the Labour Government in an attempt to smear the opposition parties in the hope that mud sticks. There will be many other such attempts from this Government from now till the election in order to improve their support.

    Problem with this government is that it’s in deep biggest pile of mud and its pathetic attempt to sling it around to divert attention from itself will only show it up for what it is.

    The sooner this lot is kicked out the better for all of us.

  • Comment number 97.


    ... and thats the attitude that has led us to this point. You get the governments you deserve. If you're not prepared to use your vote to do something about it then your complaints cant really carry any weight. You're being given the opportunity to do something about it and you cant be @rsed.

    Do you think that those in the establishment who are at the heart of this problem are going to give two hoots about you and yours if you cant be @rsed to use your vote?

  • Comment number 98.

    I have been biting my tongue for an age, but I have got to the point where I have to share my outrage with the tone of the blogs being offered up by you Nick.

    It is clearly too much to hope that there are any objective reporters left in the halls of the BBC. On the one hand you appear to accept that Lord Ashcroft and the Conservatives have no case to answer, however, you and your colleagues seem determined to keep the story going. Either this is because you are not capable of taking a fair view of the matter, or you are being manipulated to keep the forthcoming Brown attendance at the Chilcot Inquiry out of the headlines. You do realise that Brown will be asked questions on the Iraq War tomorrow don't you?

    It would also seem that you post successive blogs with no regard to the comments you recieved in relation to the earlier posts. If by chance the comments from this blog are communicated to you, could you ensure that the next blog reflects the responses received?

  • Comment number 99.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 100.

    Goodness me, I had thought the Tories were the 'Nasty Party' but the way Labour are screeching this to the heavens speaks volumes to me. Harman even accused the Tories of 'sleaze' in Parliament today. How ridiculous when the donations have just been exonerated by the Electoral Commission! How desperate!

    I lose respect for both Labour who should be talking about how they can deliver a better society for all of us and the idiots at the BBC who seem content reporting such drivel without any sense of proportion or context.

    Nick - your article just dripped with a naked desire for further exaggerations, any possible excuse to keep the story alive, like the worst sort of tabloid expose. There was a time when the BBC were above behaving like this: the Irish chap in the 1980's never stooped so low; nor did John Sergeant (although he's openly pro-Labour these days).

    Labour are feeling cornered by the polls and behaving like starved rats fighting in a pit. Frankly, I find the sight more sickening by the day.


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