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'Non-dom' donor Lords

Nick Robinson | 12:30 UK time, Tuesday, 9 March 2010

On the morning after the night before I find myself pondering why the Tories biggest donor is facing so much grief (you can see my interview with David Cameron about Lord Ashcroft here) when Labour's biggest donor, Lord Sainsbury, is treated completely differently.

Lord SainsburyLord Sainsbury - the billionaire former chairman of the supermarket - was interviewed today as a distinguished and eminent former public servant when he and the Tory Lord Waldegrave produced a report about the need to invest in science.

David Sainsbury was made science minister by Tony Blair - a post he held for more than eight years. He has donated at least £12.5m to Labour since 2002 and, some claim, more than £16m in total.

Sainsbury is one of the country's biggest philanthropists who's said to have donated more than £1bn to charity. Friends of Ashcroft point to his charitable works creating Crimestoppers and collecting Victoria Crosses for a national collection.

So, Ashcroft is treated differently not because of the scale of his giving; nor because he's a political player; nor because he doesn't give to other good causes.

It's partly because he, unlike Sainsbury, is a "non-dom", though of course, he is not the only party donor to be a "non-dom" - they exist in all parties - or the only "non-dom" in the Lords - Labour's Lord Paul is also a "non-dom".

It's partly because he hid his tax status for almost a decade after being forced to give undertakings to secure a peerage which his critics claim he never met.

But the added factor which has made Ashcroft's position so explosive is the fact that he's made so many enemies - not just in the parties he's trying to defeat but on his own side where many resent him throwing his weight about and in the media too - thanks to his keenness to turn to lawyers to sort out his disputes.

Michael Ashcroft is passionately partisan, he's secretive (or, as he would prefer, private) and to quote someone who's worked with him "relishes in being bloody awkward. It's his only pleasure in life".

In public life you always pay in the end for making enemies.

Something which that other member of the "awkward squad" - Charlie Whelan of the Unite union - who's organising Labour's efforts in the marginals may wish to ponder on.

PS I see that Lord Paul now says he'll become a full UK taxpayer. That's sure to increase pressure on Labour to spell out which of their other donors are "non-doms".

Comments

Page 1 of 6

  • Comment number 1.

    Nick Robinson:

    Thanks, for the updating the public regarding the ongoing saga on the "NON-DOM" Status of the Lord Paul story....

    And, that is good news regarding that he is becoming a fully-pledged United Kingdom taxpayer...

    (d)

  • Comment number 2.

    As you said, some of the media are enemmies and therefore have a vested interest to produce an outcome based on what they want. The beeb, with their license threatened, and the guardian with their government ad revenue threatened are the two most obvious.
    Both have given up the pretence of being anything other than biased, so I read them purely to see what version of a labour press release will be produced that day.

  • Comment number 3.

    On the morning after the night before I find myself pondering why the Tories biggest donor is facing so much grief

    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

    Because you have been at the forefront of keeping it in the news

    BUT

    Alleluia


    BALLANCE BALLANCE

    is this true you are now starting to focus on all of the parties non doms.

    Oh Nick I hope so I really do hope you start to look into all of them.

  • Comment number 4.

    The Tories biggest donor is facing so much grief because you & the BBC are just repeating what your Labour masters tell you.

  • Comment number 5.

    The English public can see for themselves that Labour, Conservatives and Lib-Dems ALL have shadowy and not-so-shadowy backers.

    Through their dubious behaviour, these three mainstream parties are digging their own graves.

    Maybe the English public will now consider supporting some of the minority parties and independents who generally behave in a more transparent and honest way with respect to their funding.

  • Comment number 6.


    What ashcroft will do will his cash now?
    https://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/mar/09/michael-ashcroft-online-media-empire
    where the money came from?
    https://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/mar/05/ashcroft-tories-funding-belize
    ??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

  • Comment number 7.

    "On the morning after the night before I find myself pondering why the Tories biggest donor is facing so much grief (you can see my interview with David Cameron about Lord Ashcroft here) when Labour's biggest donor, Lord Sainsbury, is treated completely differently."

    Because of people like you Nick, thats why!

    Isn't it about time you put that bone down?

  • Comment number 8.

    YOU REALLY ARE DETERMINED TO FLOG THIS DEAD HORSE ARE'NT YOU NICK
    TIME TO MOVE ON I THINK

  • Comment number 9.

    Repeat after me: "They still don't get it."

  • Comment number 10.

    Nick

    I thought you had seen the light BUT

    Nope still a 80% Tory attack with 20% fuzzy Labour innuendo for balance.

    As you were back on your heads.

  • Comment number 11.

    Hopefully now we can move on from the tax status of donors and move on to the more pressing issues of Parliamentary reform and the parties as a whole and not just the personalities. There is very little policy wise between the main two parties and the core values are all that is left.

  • Comment number 12.

    Nick, please read at least a few of the huge number of comments questioning your continuing bias against Ashcroft and the tories from the last topic and many before that. You are getting almost unaminous criticism about this bias and making this blog a laughing stock. The public are sick of the BBC primarily by strong bias in particular over the last few weeks on news broadcasts and Andrew Marr (with the exception of last show)against the tories.

  • Comment number 13.

    no,its because you are too lazy to take anything but the Labour agenda. There is a "scandal " concerning one of Lord Paul's companies pension schemes not been properly funded and pensioners suffering, but you choose to avoid that as well. Even Kevin Maguire has said that Labour should not take money from him. If you and your staff are too busy to do your own research maybe you should check the blogs.

  • Comment number 14.

    Nick

    That's sure to increase pressure on Labour to spell out which of their other donors are "non-doms".

    BUT NOT FROM YOU?????????????????????????????????

    Don't worry Tom Bradby on the case.

  • Comment number 15.

    Change of tune Nick???? - someone had a word in your ear about TRYING to be unbiased in your so called reporting. None of us r complete fools - ANYONE who even thinks of voting for Clown and Co will get EXACTLY what they deserve.

    As for money influencing politics - take a CLOSE look at Unite - Whelan - safe seats, influence- and then try and do an objective report on it, if Mandy will allow u. Better look out the CV - u will need it after election because just like your bosses at Labour the day of reckoning is coming and u will be found wanting.

  • Comment number 16.


    What a quite simply absurd post!

    So Ashcroft is 'bad/an issue' because some people don't like him and he can be difficult.

    Wow. What a bizarre scraping of the barrel. Risible!

  • Comment number 17.

    RE PS only if you pursue them will it

  • Comment number 18.

    Dumb and dumber. That's the news I'm talking about.

    A few weeks to the most important election in my lifetime and that's saying something the media are headlining dogs and donars as the most important news stories of the day.

    Attack dogs should certainly be muzzled so I'm pleased you mentioned Charlie Whelan in today's blog. As far as the peerage is concerned why spoil the habits of a lifetime.

    This is overshadowing very worrying economic news. I wonder why?

    Have we now got to a stage where none of the main parties have the stomach to take on the problems of the country on their own?

  • Comment number 19.

    Oh not again - more Ashcroft zzzzzzz.

    How about one on Lord Paul and the pension fund mentioned on R5 earlier today?

    Balance anyone?

  • Comment number 20.

    Labour have played a very clever political game here, they have shouted the loudest and they seem to have the ear of the media when they do.
    Both the Conservative and Lib Dems seem to wish to conduct their election campaigns by talking mainly about policy, Labour on the other hands seem to want to get dirty and throw as much mud as they possibly can, something which may well win them a few extra seats, but the lowest possible way to campaign.

  • Comment number 21.

    Let think what would Lord Mandy want?

    To have the Ashcroft saga always on the agenda.

    Let see what has the Political Editor of the BBC focused on most for the last month

    ASHCROFT
    ASHCROFT
    ASHCROFT
    ASHCROFT
    ASHCROFT
    ASHCROFT
    ASHCROFT
    ASHCROFT

    Shall I go on?

    Anything big happened??

  • Comment number 22.

    You are absolutely right, Nick, that Lord Ashcroft has tended to make enemies - even when he's played the "Good Guy" such as his turning around the American firm Tyco all of the associated unpleasantness tends to resurface.

  • Comment number 23.

    quick Mike has not found this one yet. let's have a sensible discussion before he does.

  • Comment number 24.

    Tax avoidance/evasion costs the country £40 Billion pounds each year. That is why the story will continue into the foreseeable future.William Hague described Lord Archer as a man of 'integrity and probity' shortly before he was sent down.I wonder what Willie truly thinks about the man now being described in Parliament as 'Lord Sleaze of Belize'
    Could he have misled Her Majesty in order to obtain his peerage?
    Same old Tories.

  • Comment number 25.

    " Friends of Ashcroft point to his charitable works...."
    - No, I would say anyone with a sense of fairness who is repelled by the constant bullying of Lord Ashcroft would point to his charitable works.

    "It's partly because he hid his tax status for...."
    - He didn't "hide" his tax status. Like you, me and everyone else in the country he was under no obligation to announce his tax status to the world and its still unclear why you feel you need to know Ashcroft's tax status rather than, say, Boris Berezovsky or Philip Green or Lakshmi Mittel.

    "In public life you always pay in the end for making enemies...."
    - So some unnamed men don't like Ashcroft and decided to hound him out of public life. You'll have to be more specific to enable us to know whether this personal animosity was justified. But that's no excuse for your hounding of David Cameron and the Conservative Party who, as far as I know, have not set out to be your enemy.

  • Comment number 26.

    Easy.

    Liebour are great and good and wonderful.
    Tories are evil baby eaters.

    That is the conclusion anyone would reach reading the MSM coverage.

  • Comment number 27.

    So in essence he is treated differently because Labour do not like him.

    And the media smear him, because they are told to by Labour.

    Our democracy is in huge trouble. Huge, huge. trouble. If information is power, we are living under a dictatorship.


    Nick: You can go one step further back. I wonder if he was set discriminatory terms for his peerage because Labour would not sign him off. Note Lord Paul's statement that he was unaware of any other cases where similar demands were made.

  • Comment number 28.

    6. At 1:07pm on 09 Mar 2010, lefty10

    Its no wonder you have such a myopic view if all you read is the Guardian.

    How many Government job adverts do they have in today's issue?

  • Comment number 29.

    As I see it the issue with Ashcroft is not so much that he is a non-dom but rtather that he got his appointment to the Lords on the promise he would give up that status and pay UK tax. He then broke his promise and did not tell anybody (?)

    So the question is, do we feel that people who break promises that form the basis under which they "got the job" are suited to govern us.

    That he is not elected, a non-dom, very very rich, gives money to political parties, etc. is common to loads and is really a separate issue - one that needs addressing but separate.

    That he gets the job only after and on the basis of a promise that he then decides to break makes him unsuited and he should be sacked from the Lords. If the Conservatives feel he is of an appropriate character to hold so much power in their party then that is their business (they will probably lose loads of votes over it but that is their choice). But in terms of sitting in the Lords, Ashcroft has not carried out his promise that was central to his appointment so, after 10 years he should have been sacked from public office ages ago.

  • Comment number 30.

    Hello Nick...Knock Knock....there's an elephant in the room!

    The reason Ashcroft is treated differently is because he is a Tory.

    The Guardian/BBC have been doing their best to keep the story in the headlines, when it has dropped form the radar of other news organisations. The comparison between treatment of Ashcroft and the Labour Non-Doms is striking. We can only hope that whoever is in government after the next election will see just how much the BBC have been trying to influence the election with their biased 'journalism', and put in place plans to limit its tax-funded powers.

  • Comment number 31.

    No5 JohnConstable,
    Last time I looked at the English Democrats web site it was very similar to the BNPs.
    Have things changed?

  • Comment number 32.

    Nick, Nick, Nick! You really ought to take a look at the polls! Since the Ashcroft story began at the start of last week the Tories' poll share has been inching upwards! I'm sorry to say this but no one on Planet Earth gives a stuff about Ashcroft!

    Epic fail Nick, truly epic!!

  • Comment number 33.

    Well this says it all:

    "PS I see that Lord Paul now says he'll become a full UK taxpayer. That's sure to increase pressure on Labour to spell out which of their other donors are "non-doms"."

    In other words, another self inflicted own goal by the newlabour spin machine desperately thrashing around for a story to get some momentum behind their support.

    Oh Dear.

    What a shambles.

    Perhaps we can have a quick re-run of 'Bernie Ecclestone-gate' and the 'I'm finished' blubbing from the then Chancellor Gordon Brown. Bullies always were synonymous with cry babies and this one is the biggest one of both on the planet. "I'm so sad". Are you? Really? Then resign.

    Call an election.

  • Comment number 34.

    At last, a BBC blog that highlights that the issue that ticks people off most about Ashcroft, is the decade of evasiveness and attempts to hide what everyone knew that he should be ashamed of: that he didn't pay full UK taxes.

    A decade after he gave misleading assurances on just this issue.

    He knew he was morally wrong a decade ago, he gave the impression he was going to rectify that situation, and he didn't, he has consistently attempted to weasel out of it.

    Yes, other parties have non-doms, but they don't have that same history, that is why Ashcroft is different.

  • Comment number 35.

    I don't see it as flogging a dead horse. It is tiresome the focus was not on his "undertakings". Instead, the distraction of who is or is not non-dom has been droaning on while the single biggest question has not been answered regarding his "undertakings. Unless I am mistaken there is no other non dom with that question to answer?

  • Comment number 36.

    The right wingers, senior Tories, Ashcroft himself are calling this story a "Non-Story" in an attempt to deflect from the fact that Lord Ashcroft Has paid minimal UK tax in the last 1-0 years despite his assurances and yet is using his very impressive wealth to buy the election for Cameron in the marginals. As a Non-Dom he should have no place in even shadow goverment and certainly no place influencing the political landscape of a country which he purposely avoids paying tax to.

    This is nothing short of a landmine for Cameron, and for him to pretend otherwise is treating the taxpayers and voters with total contempt; basically saying "you don't need bother yourselves with this story, let's talk about "Broekn Society" and how much I love the NHS...". Same old Tory, same old Tories, same old upper class Etonian toffs with no clue about the real world we all live in. I hope this weighs Cameron down substantially all the way through to May 6th and we have a returned Labour government or a hung parliaments with a Labour / Lib-Dem alliance...

  • Comment number 37.

    As you point out Nick - Ashcroft in the end has only himself to blame.

    By seeming to make an undertaking to become a full UK tax payer and then forcing successive Conservative party leaders to make vague / misleading statements about his staus (either because they really did not know, or really did not want to say has still to be fully clarified) it has been Ashcroft who has all along ensured that this matter wouldn't go away.

    Once a matter boils down to a yes/no question and the response is still a "well maybe who knows?" then you leave people thinking you have something to hide, and something to hide is quite naturally taken to mean that you know you're in the wrong.

  • Comment number 38.

    Interesting piece from Nick there. Just proves that he has sounder instincts for what constitutes a story than the rabble of Tory bully-bloggers who constantly yap their disapproval. Which presumably is why he's political editor of one of the world's largest news agencies and they are internet plankton.

  • Comment number 39.

    Nick go for it - personally, I don't want to see anyone who is not fully committed to this country, and therefore prepared to pay the full tax burden of being a resident here, involved in MY governance.

    No donations should be accepted, by any of the parties, from anyone who is not fully resident and paying full taxes here.

    Personally, I would go even further, and stop any donations from organisations as well. Our democracy is all about one person one vote - there is no place in it for companies or other organisation who want to have an influence in our politics.

    Party donations should be restricted to individuals who are fully resident, pay their taxes and who have a vote.

  • Comment number 40.

    So if the Tories get in (which I guess is possible if they decide to go public on just one single detailed policy) will this blog turn into a Labour bashing blog?

  • Comment number 41.

    On a point of information. You are wrong when you say that Lord Sainsbury is Labours beggest donor. The trade union Unite donates 1/4 of all Labour donations. Trade Unions contribute 80% of Labour revenue. That is why they don't stand uo to the unions because they would go bankrupt without them.

    Lord Ashcroft on the other hand contributes a small % of the money being used in marginal constituencies. 80% is raised by local activists 20% comes from CCHQ (formally Central Office). Of that 20% less than 25% comes from Lord Ashcroft.

    So Lord Ashcroft donates about 4% to the Conservatives.
    while the the Trade Unions donate 80% to Labour.

    Why no mention of this BBC? Political bias?

  • Comment number 42.

    I was struck by the vitriolic comments on Nick's bias and thought it excessive - but then I saw the list of latest blogs at the bottom of the page. And of 11 stories, 5 were about Lord Ashcroft!

    Hmmm.

  • Comment number 43.

    I rather interested, Nick, in why you aren't analysing Brown's "announcement" of replacement for the Land Rover Snatch vehicles at a photo-op in Afghanistan.

    The contract was offered in Feb 2009, so not exactly a "new" element for the PM to posture about.

    The number of vehicles is half the original procurement plan.

    The US have pretty solid vehicles, so what exactly are the UK-specific vehicles going to do? It's a lot easier to pump up production on an existing line than create a new production site.

    I didn't trust Brown with the economy.
    I don't trust him with defence.
    I never trusted the rocketing result escalation in "Education".
    We have less hospitals and beds now than in 1997.
    So where did all the money go?

  • Comment number 44.

    #2 Redcliffe62 - I think yiou might reasonably reflect that every other newspaper & the rest of the media - notably Sky, which is, of course, Murdoch's creature - are vehemently anti-Labour. Actually, practically the only media organisation that even attempts to be balanced is the BBC. This blog was clearly about WHY there is a difference in perception between Ashcroft and other donors - & also at the end reminds us as to why Whelan - a Labour party figure - could well be in the same boat. But I suppose what you really want is nothing said against the Conservatives & a constant barrage of anti-Labour material. that's not what I regard as balanced.
    PS in the "what goes around, comes around" stakes, you can see why Gordon Brown has had such a rought ride from many members of his own party.

  • Comment number 45.

    Nick

    quote someone who's worked with him "relishes in being bloody awkward. It's his only pleasure in life".


    He doesn't write blogs for the BBC does he?


    Pot Kettle?

  • Comment number 46.

    Nick,

    I can't help detect a touch of guilt in this post (and rightly so). Your excuses for treating Lord Ashcroft so differently are pretty lame as I suspect you realise.

    I've seen a number of your appearances on the news in recent months and for the most part I'd say you were playing with a 'straight bat' but on this subject I think your getting things way out of proportion, in more ways than one.

    The BBC has a proud record of impartiality stretching back over the last 50 years or more. Please don't tarnish your own reputation and that of the BBC by this lopsided reporting.

  • Comment number 47.

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

  • Comment number 48.

    The interesting and hopeful sign was that Andrew Marr gave Harriet Harman a hard time about the Labour donors and it was quite funny to see how flummoxed she was by someone asking about them rather than get on her high horse about Ashcroft. I tried to find it again but you have to go to Marr's show and then click to get a transcript of what was said. Funnily enough I haven't seen the exchange reported on any of the news shows which spent some time on Ashcroft.

  • Comment number 49.

    Nick you are nothing if not persistant surely the Non Dom saga has run its course. We want political journalist to try and get poloticians to talk about how they will sort out the mess we are in

  • Comment number 50.

    Interesting that the "non doms" plan to become "doms" once the law has changed. But they were "non doms" to protect their overseas earnings and I assume to limit their liability to UK death duties.

    The question one should also ask is whether they commit to continue the flow of earnings from their foreign domiciled companies or whether they will just accumulate income within those companies for the day when they re-establish a "non dom" or overseas residency status.

    And your comments on Lord Sainsbury did not mention tax sheltering family trusts. I am unaware whether he has any, but it would be interesting to know if our new "doms" adopt such vehicles to protect themselves from inheritance tax and how many in government and elsewhere use them as well.

    Of course trusts and increased retentions in overseas companies are all legal but they, too, cost the Treasury! Plus ca change plus c'est la meme chose?

  • Comment number 51.

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

  • Comment number 52.

    JG@30
    Hello Nick...Knock Knock....there's an elephant in the room!
    The reason Ashcroft is treated differently is because he is a Tory.
    The Guardian/BBC have been doing their best to keep the story in the headlines, when it has dropped form the radar of other news organisations.


    >>

    Aw, poor Ashcroft. Poor Tories. Poor you.

    (Actually, you're wrong: the story is getting plenty of coverage elsewhere, even in Murdoch-owned outlets. Billionaires allegedly trying to buy political influence is a big story. Always has been, always will be. And as Lord Paul said, the only reason he's been dragged into it is that the Tories have been caught with their pants down and are trying to deflect attention. That's from today's Sky News website, by the way. They have quite a long piece on the story ...)

  • Comment number 53.

    28. PortcullisGate.
    The gaurdian website... won best website of the year at the british press awards 2009. I look at lots of different media. you should try it. but you have got to take the bucket off your head first!

  • Comment number 54.

    The cash has to come from somewhere for the big looking party conferences, along with the 'battle buses' and the like.
    The question the parties should address is one of how much should be spent? Not because of the politics of envy more than a party running for political purposes in the 21st century should have openness in financing.

    After all they all (politicians) do harp on about it so so much,

    But saying this I am all for double standards as long as I am allowed as well

  • Comment number 55.

    34. At 1:32pm on 09 Mar 2010, Sam wrote:
    At last, a BBC blog that highlights that the issue that ticks people off most about Ashcroft, is the decade of evasiveness and attempts to hide what everyone knew that he should be ashamed of: that he didn't pay full UK taxes.

    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX



    If this is a basis for resignation.

    the decade of evasiveness and attempts to hide what everyone knew that he should be ashamed of

    Taking Britain to War on a Lie?

    Cash for Peerages?

    British solders dieing due to lack of helicopters because someone cut their budget?

    I believe my moral High ground is Much higher than your.

  • Comment number 56.

    "24. At 1:25pm on 09 Mar 2010, IPGABP1 wrote

    Tax avoidance/evasion costs the country £40 Billion pounds each year."

    And where did you get that figure from? Can you give us a breakdown?

    and 'tax avoidance'? That's not paying tax by legal means. Such as saving in a pension or opening an ISA. Does your £40 billion include such sums? If not, what DOES it include? Have you any idea or do you just accept any old figures chucked your way?

    Jeez, another pointless, meaningless, 'makes a good headline' figure.

    And of course, reference to the tax Ashcroft hasn't paid but no mention of the tax Paul hasn't paid.

    Same old, tired hypocritical Labour supporters.

  • Comment number 57.

    Ashcroft is charged on here with paying "minimal tax in this country". When he earned money in the UK he paid the required UK tax on it. When he earned money in, say, the United States, the paid the required US tax on it. That is the law. If Lord Ashcroft's detractors wish him to pay tax in the UK on his US earnings then they'll have to persuade Gordon Brown to change the law. But he won't change the law of course because Labour non don donors wouldn't like it.

  • Comment number 58.

    PortcullisGate, you've been drivelling on with the same point for 45 minutes now. If you have nothing new to add, then please stop commenting!

  • Comment number 59.

    Nick,

    This bit ... "Ashcroft hid his tax status for almost a decade after being forced to give undertakings to secure a peerage which his critics claim he never met." ... is certainly key. It's definitely (as you say) an important part of the scandal. As for the rest of it, well let's not go over the whole sorry affair again - it's adequately covered on previous blogs.

    Good news (as Dennis Junior points out at 1) that this "Lord Paul" is dropping his non dom status. Who the dickens is he, by the way? ... keep asking and nobody seems to know.

  • Comment number 60.

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

  • Comment number 61.

    24. At 1:25pm on 09 Mar 2010, IPGABP1 wrote:

    Tax avoidance/evasion costs the country £40 Billion pounds each year. That is why the story will continue into the foreseeable future.William Hague described Lord Archer as a man of 'integrity and probity' shortly before he was sent down.I wonder what Willie truly thinks about the man now being described in Parliament as 'Lord Sleaze of Belize'
    Could he have misled Her Majesty in order to obtain his peerage?
    Same old Tories.
    ------------------------------------------------------------

    No, dont tell me Sout.

    .........Most of it avoided by Michael Ashcroft.........

  • Comment number 62.

    "I find myself pondering why the Tories biggest donor is facing so much grief when Labour's biggest donor, Lord Sainsbury, is treated completely differently."


    eh? Well, seeing as you've been the main one who's been doing the "reporting", Nick, maybe you should ask yourself why *you* report the tory side completely differently to the labour side?

    ie why do you treat labour stories differently to tory ones?

    Why have you been using innuendo for weeks about Ashcroft but never mentioned the labour non-doms? Why has Ashcroft been smeared by the BBC and labour never mentioned, yet every single labour party donor that's given over a million pounds to labour magically got an honour? (or come to that, when donors to labour have magically got massive pfi contracts on the same day as donating?)

    Your "pondering" is like when MPs were pondering "why's our expenses system been abused so much?" the answer being "well, you should know; you were the ones who created, maintained, and abused it."

  • Comment number 63.

    Extracts from the interview that never was between Nick and Gordon.

    N - Lots of talk about both sides having inluential non doms. I've given the Tories a pasting over it, so now, Gordon.......What's your favourite colour?

    G - Red

    N- And favourite flower?

    G - Not sure...er...rose?

    N- seen any good movies lately?

    G - haha...haven't really...haha..... had the time.

    N - OK, that seems to have cleared up the question of Labour non Doms quite nicely. Back to the studio.

  • Comment number 64.


    Your posts on Ashcroft are becoming more tedious by the day. Even when you try to redress the balance you dig yourself into a deeper hole. You are in danger of becoming a "laughing stock", as many of the comments here show. I couldn't agree more.

    Please move on. How about a post on the latest opinion poll in the 'marginals' showing the two main parties are "neck and neck" which set today's early news agenda? Only it doesn't show that at all. So what's going on?

    https://theorangepartyblog.blogspot.com/2010/03/election-dominated-by-bullshit.html

  • Comment number 65.

    So the BBC has been flogging the Ashcroft horse for over a week because he has made enemies at Westminster? Is that the BBC's job? Forgive me if I think this whole thing stinks.

  • Comment number 66.

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

  • Comment number 67.

    36. At 1:37pm on 09 Mar 2010, Bryn The Cat

    Same old Tory, same old Tories, same old upper class Etonian toffs with no clue about the real world we all live in. I hope this weighs Cameron down substantially all the way through to May 6th and we have a returned Labour government or a hung parliaments with a Labour / Lib-Dem alliance...

    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

    This really is manor from heaven.

    Do you not realise that you demonstrate as much prejudice as racism when you judge people on their background above who they are?

    Osbourne's father created his own business so he is in the same status as Liam Blair.

    The son of a self made millionaire.

    The only difference is Osbourne employed lots of people.
    Blair earned his off our backs.

  • Comment number 68.

    Hey how about some BBC coverage of the Glasgow Labour Drug-running gangsterism of the City Council under the disgraced Purcell ... this is what happens when Labour is in power too long: this is a story of national interest, not this nonsense about massively rich, tax-evading donor lords. All the big three parties have such people bankrolling their campaigns, who else has 'well respected members of the Glasgow business community' (gangsters) on their side?

  • Comment number 69.

    It is all so boring and too too predictable: the BBC lunchtime news had an item on Lord Paul and his announcement that he will give up his non-dom status when the new law is enacted BUT the piece ended with yet another diatribe about Lord Ashcroft.

    The proposed insurance to compensate the public from the acts of dangerous etc dogs should be extended to protect the public from news producers and reporters who insist on pushing their private agendas.

  • Comment number 70.

    I find it absolutely risable that MP's from all sides keep pushing this Ashcroft issue. We know what he has done!

    But I see no difference in someone saying

    'yes I am going to move all my non-uk operations to the uk so that the UK can benefit from my tax...... OH! I don't have to? And it's within the rules? Oh ok then I won't'.

    To someone saying ' I can have an expense claim for the mortgage interest on my Blackburn house and then flip it to my new bigger house in Brighton? And that's within the rules? Oh ok I'll do that then! What about the profit I made? Oh fine, I can keep that as well? I will then!'

    Those that are kicking the biggest stink need to look to their own morals first.

    What he did was slightly dodgy, but no worse than some of the scandals that have come out of this parliament.

    They're all stained.

  • Comment number 71.

    "On the morning after the night before I find myself pondering why the Tories biggest donor is facing so much grief"

    er....because you're banging on about it all the time?

    "But the added factor which has made Ashcroft's position so explosive is the fact that he's made so many enemies"

    Are YOU one of his enemies? If not, why are you pandering to his enemies by giving the matter so much space and if you are, are you the right person to be covering the matter for an independent broadcaster?

    "he's secretive (or, as he would prefer, private)"

    I think anyone neutral would prefer 'private'. Are YOU secretive about Your salary and tax arrangements or is it a private matter? Which term would you use to describe yourself?

    "In public life you always pay in the end for making enemies."

    Something you might encounter yourself, one day?

  • Comment number 72.

    There are certain rites-of-passage that a prospective politician seemingly must pass through.

    For example, upon walking on stage at their first political meeting accompanied by a couple of mischief-makers whistling the theme tune from Laurel and Hardy.

    Then later on, they really know they arrived on the political stage by suffering a good 'egging', as they arrive somewhere and if the politician is really getting somewhere, the 'dark arts' are deployed.

    Likewise for the small political party, at first they are treated as a bit of a joke - not to be taken at all seriously.

    Later on, when it looks as though they might actually be gaining some political traction, the more serious stuff happens, their opponents attempt to demonise them - for example, by saying they look like the BNP or somesuch extreme view.

    Such is the way of political life.

  • Comment number 73.

    A labour government comes to power in 1997 promising parliamentary reform of the upper house.

    Thirteen years later there has been no reform. Tory hereditary peers have been replaced with newlabour placemen. An historical tory bias has been replaced with a manufactured newlabour bias. A full enquiry has taken place into Lord 'Cashpoint' following his arrest and the prime minister had to be questioned under caution three times in Downing Street. Meanwhile Gordon Brown has pleaded to have been nowhere near the scene of this crime, or indeed any crime before or subsequently.

    By now, one might be thinking all this was simply a work of fiction. But no, it's the country in which we live; the country newlabour suggests it is 'governing'.

    Nobody is listening anymore, newlabour. Nobody. (with the possible exception of sagamix and his newlabour apologist chums).

    The whole country wants an election but the bottler Brown hasn't the nerve to call it. The more he dithers, waiting for some dead hand to fall, be it Ashcroft or Hague, the more the unspeakable memory of this dreadful prime minister and ex chancellor lingers over us like the stench of a stagnant pond. They press on, like a doomed first world war campaign; throwing thousands more into the firing line without regard for anything except their own political survival.

    All of them make TV appearances, dead eyed and disbelieving that it has all come to this; Yvette Cooper, Liam Byrne, Alistair Darling; all together preaching the same dead pan message of 'right thing to do,. Gordon's Gordon, don't endanger the recovery, same old tories. What an unbelievably dull election message, what an unbelievably hopeless track record, what an unbelievably shambolic party; limping on into the distance like a wounded stag, knowing its fate is inevitable.

    In the name of sanity call an election. Put Mrs Rochester back in the cupboard.

  • Comment number 74.

    He wasn`t a bad man,it`s just no-one liked him but he was tolerated for his money..He had his secrets but we didn`t dare ask.The papers got hold of it in the end,they were bound to,then there was that committee so he went as good as gold.I never knew what all the fuss was about.I liked the old days best,Dave would make the tea and we would listen to records.He`d put his head round the door sometimes and ask us to be quiet because he was thinking.
    They said it was a coup,that lot in the marginals so he`s back in charge.I`d better stop now,I hear him down the corridor dragging someone along by their ears.

  • Comment number 75.

    Anything else going on in the world?

    The economy?

    Afghanistan?

    Anyone??

    Hello!!!

  • Comment number 76.

    Ha ha:

    https://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23813503-labour-peer-lord-paul-ill-stop-being-a-non-dom-and-pay-full-tax-here.do

    Que sera, sera. Whatever will be, will be.

    Perhaps now we can hear Lord Mandleson's obsequieous defence of Lord Paul and hsi expenses.

    Laugh, I nearly cried.

    Call en election.

  • Comment number 77.

    Nick says>> I see that Lord Paul now says he'll become a full UK taxpayer. That's sure to increase pressure on Labour to spell out which of their other donors are "non-doms".


    It will Nick, if the media pursue it like they pursued Ashcroft.

  • Comment number 78.

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

  • Comment number 79.

    34 - So your complaint against Ashcroft is that he didn't do what nobody else was asked to do? And then didn't outright deny that he hadn't done something that no-one else had done either.

  • Comment number 80.

    There appears to be a vast army of people willing to assume that Nick Robinson's only purpose in writing this blog is to return a Labour Government. I know that appearances can be deceptive, and paid and unpaid partisans on both sides frequent these blogs with nauseating regularity.

    Nevertheless, assuming most of these people are real and not in the employ of the Conservative Party, this army claims to crave balance. In the name of balance, could any one of them confirm that they are on the websites of the Sun, the Times, the Mail, Sky News and the Telegraph, registering a corresponding measure of horror at the distorted coverage?

    Alternatively, with a daily diet of Murdock-sponsored Tory propaganda, have you all forgotten what balance actually looks like?

  • Comment number 81.

    lacplesis37 #44

    'But I suppose what you really want is nothing said against the Conservatives & a constant barrage of anti-Labour material. that's not what I regard as balanced'

    No. All we want is balance. Not one sided against Labour, not one-sided against the Tories. The reporting on this issue has all been one-sided against the Tories.

    Your suggestion that the sentence on Charlie Whelan constitutes balance just about says it all.

  • Comment number 82.

    Nick - there are huge issues for the party that wins the next election and all you want to talk about is non-doms!

    Lord Ashcroft's antics might cost the Conservatives some votes but I can't see people spending too much time thinking about him when their pencil is posed above the ballot paper on 6 May. Let's move on - please.

  • Comment number 83.

    I'm sure Mr Ashcroft gives a lot of money to people in Belize too. He certainly take a lot from there. I notice that we are on the way, helped by the Court of Appeal to tighten the screws on non res status. I am sure that non dom status will follow it into oblivion soon. Many tax administrations don't have anything like it I was told that it was invented originally for slave holding plantation owners in the Caribbean.

    I notice the camaroon attack dogs are still smarting from people noticing the peculiar situation in their party where everything seems to be on the basis of deniablity. .... "Don't tell me, then I can pretend I don't know." How many more things like this "don't they know"? Do tell us Nick, and anyone else too, that 'really' knows.

  • Comment number 84.

    Several commentators have queried the BBC's impartiality. I doubt this is fair - the Ashcroft affair raises serious issues (but it is unfortunately drowning out more important issues, namely the policies of the different parties.

    The BBC though should not be (as lacplesis 37 wrote) providing a balance across the media (and thus be pro Labour or anti Murdoch) but be providing a balanced view of events so that we poor mortals can come to a rational view

  • Comment number 85.

    39. At 1:43pm on 09 Mar 2010, John wrote:
    Nick go for it - personally, I don't want to see anyone who is not fully committed to this country, and therefore prepared to pay the full tax burden of being a resident here, involved in MY governance.

    No donations should be accepted, by any of the parties, from anyone who is not fully resident and paying full taxes here.

    Personally, I would go even further, and stop any donations from organisations as well. Our democracy is all about one person one vote - there is no place in it for companies or other organisation who want to have an influence in our politics.

    Party donations should be restricted to individuals who are fully resident, pay their taxes and who have a vote.

    ==================================================================

    Well thats labour stuffed - no more union cash laundered from the taxpayer for them then.

  • Comment number 86.

    Duh! Would that be anything to do with the fact that the BBC has abandoned any atttempt at proper investigative or balanced journalism and is now nothing more than Mandelson's mouthpiece? Ever heard of irony,Nick?

  • Comment number 87.

    Nick is it possible that Labour deliberately left the domicile requirement vague as a trap for the greedy Ashcroft and future political capital?

    It does amuse me that if the Lib Dems go on to show that the Labour handling of the peerage misled the monarch - and was incompetent - then both the sleazy Labour and Tory parties will take a hit.

    If that helps to lead to the demise of the two party system and politicians treating it like a fiefdom then that is at least positive for the future.

  • Comment number 88.

    Nick, if you are so keen on investigating non-doms and their power in the UK and the forthcoming election can I suggest you look at

    a) How much corporate tax News International pays the UK or the fact that four of the biggest UK papers are controlled by a non dom i.e Rupert Murdoch.

    b) The fact that the Daily Mail is controlled by Viscount Rothermere who despite being a hereditory Peer of the realm is tax dommed in France.

    c) The tax domicile of the Barclay Brothers who control the Telegraph.

    d) The tax status of the Evening Standard's new Russian owner.

    I could go on but I am sure you get the gist.

  • Comment number 89.

    36. At 1:37pm on 09 Mar 2010, Bryn The Cat wrote:

    This is nothing short of a landmine for Cameron, and for him to pretend otherwise is treating the taxpayers and voters with total contempt; basically saying "you don't need bother yourselves with this story, let's talk about "Broekn Society" and how much I love the NHS...". Same old Tory, same old Tories, same old upper class Etonian toffs with no clue about the real world we all live in. I hope this weighs Cameron down substantially all the way through to May 6th and we have a returned Labour government or a hung parliaments with a Labour / Lib-Dem alliance...
    --------------------------------------------------------------------
    The delicious irony of not being able to spell "Broken Society" sums you up. That with wishing a hung parliament upon the country with your class ridden rant confirms you as a Labour muppet.
    Happy Days!

  • Comment number 90.

    I am amazed that people posting here still fail to grasp a simple fact that Nick Robinson and others have spelled out quite clearly. It's called trust. The scandal is about Hague making a commitment on behalf of Ashcroft and presumably at his request 10 years ago so that Ashcroft could get a peerage, and then 10 years later for it to be revealed under threat of Freedom of Information disclosure that actually that particular commitment was not kept. Hague said that the UK would be "tens of millions" better off every year as a result of Ashcroft's commitment. It has nothing to do with Ashcroft hiding his status or keeping his foreign income away from the UK tax man, both of which he is perfectly entitled to do. It's about a man's word and trust: Ashcroft's word to Hague, Hague's word to us/parliament. As many commentators have said, if Cameron and Hague cannot meet the standards on this kind of straightforward issue of trust, then what does that bode for real issues of national importance?

  • Comment number 91.


    Many of the contributions so far fail to get the point. This story is not a 'dead horse' as Tory supporters wish that it were. The fact is that unlike any of Labour's rich donors, Ashcroft has a major role in party strategy and is directing huge sums of his income into key marginals. Does this apply to Lords Paul and Sainsbury? No.

  • Comment number 92.

    Would it be possible to add to the banned list any use of a sentence implying BBC bias?

    I ask this not out of any love of censorship, I ask for this because I am bored to death of lazy, blinkered, defensive party activists on both sides of the political spectrum using it as their first line of defense whenever a blog doesn't paint them in the most vibrant colour available.

  • Comment number 93.

    Always good to see your contribution Nick - I think it is also very important that someone as influential as Lord Ashcroft pays taxes like the rest of us.

    It gives the impression that we are not all in it together that in fact it is the same old tories - one rule for the rich another for everyone else.

    You should also look at the way that local councils are behaving for example in Westminster the council have slashed grants to the voluntary sector by 10% and thrown the voluntary sector off the partnership boards. The Conservatives say they want everyones opinion but they just use there power as the state to force things through. The nasty party.


    Same old Tories I am glad there will be an election in May June and that the longer we wait the more of the Conservatives half truths and lack of substance are being exposed.

    Their fakery is why the polls are moving to Labour and soon Labour will overtake them.

  • Comment number 94.

    No wonder voters are weary! Just when the MP's expenses scandal has subsided somewhat, out pops another skeleton in the closet. The relentless pursuit of Lord Ashcroft was a very clever tactic by Labour to both smear the Conservative party and attract voters who feel strongly about 'haves' and 'have-nots'.

    Now there is a Labour Lord in the spotlight - well, in view of fairness, I hope he gets the feeding frenzy that the Conservative Lord did. In fact, just get all this 'non-dom' business out of the closet for all political parties. Otherwise it's just biased reporting.

    It all just adds to the cloud of stupor over the voters ahead of the general election.

    I'm not up on all these Lords - weren't there a whole lot more listed by another poster a few blogs back? Are you absolutely sure, Nick, that Labour only have one 'non-dom'

    Honestly, there are far, far more important things for voters to be think about - it's about time that all political parties and the media started doing something about that, instead of all this muck raking!

    We need the country to move forward, not look backward.

  • Comment number 95.

    Political funding is a minefield for ALL the parties and needs to be reformed. How? No idea but we definitly need to take wealthy individuals (& their companies) out of the equation, Trade Unions too prehaps.
    A few people have stridently questioned why this Ashcroft farrago is still being mentioned and see it as a BBC/Guardian (they are the same right?!) conspiracy thing. Well hullo! Ashcroft has been in the news about this on and off for at least a decade (and it's not just thanks to that BBC/Guardian amalgam), he's held an important role with the Tories, he's a significant donor, he's heavily involved with his parties attempts to win elections. In other words he's NEWS people and a lot more than Lord Paul is. At least a lot more than Lord Paul is at the moment.

  • Comment number 96.

    To all the miserable party hacks who are flooding this blog:
    Do you think that your whining and blinkered posts will persuade anyone with any brains and/or personality above that of a slug to vote for your grubby little parties?
    Pig to man to pig to man etc.

  • Comment number 97.

    Why do the Tories continually winge on about the BBC being bias towards Labour, if anything over recent months its quite the opposite. Does Cameron send out an e-mail to get members to bombard this blog with comments?? looks like it to me. The reason the Ashcroft story is so important is bacause he is pumping excessive amounts of money over a period of years into the key marginals, those seats tha actually count in a election, he's practically buying these seats with his wealth. If there Tories want a fair fight they should tell us all which seats have been effected so the voters in these seats can decide if they want to be bought by the tories or not. Keep up the good work Nick.

  • Comment number 98.

    Why is it every time I read a post on Nick's Blog, the comment thread is littered with people questioning his impartiality.

    Come on, all you politicos out there don't you realise you are turning people away from genuine discussion?

    If Nick writes something unflattering about the Tories, he's accused of being a "Tory Basher" - have you all forgotten he was President of the Oxford University Conservative Association and in 1986, he spent a year as national chairman of the Young Conservatives?

    If he writes something unflattering about the Labour Party, he's accuse of using smear tactics.

    If he writes something about the Lib Dems, everyone jumps out of the woodwork asking him why he's wasting column inches on a bunch of no-hoper's.

    Can you not see how transparent your partisanship is in your comments? Grow up people!

  • Comment number 99.

    The Tories biggest donor remains non-dom. His name, of course is Lord Ashcroft; Lord Ashcroft is not a full UK taxpayer. So, I really need an explanation as to why he is being allowed to sit in the House of Lords? Why does he have the any right to decide UK laws?
    (Remember: The BBC reported that Lord Ashcroft would become a full taxpayer when he entered the House of Lords; that was ten (10) years ago. So, it must be close to happening now, right?)
    As for David Cameron, he can reject claims that he’s too weak to deal with Lord Ashcroft, but even his rejection (during interview) sounded irritated, defencive, and VERY WEAK. Instead of dealing with the issue, he spoke about how much he has done to reduce the debts of the Conservative party. This was, of course, a deflection off topic...or it may have been an indirect thank-you to Lord Ashcroft for doing so much to pay Tory debts.
    Mr Cameron says that if he wins the general election all members of his cabinet will be "full UK taxpayers". Pardon my potential ignorance, but does the “cabinet” include the House of Lords? Isn’t the Cabinet the collective decision-making body of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom, composed of the Prime Minister and some 22 Cabinet Ministers. Does this mean that David Cameron will ensure that Lord Ashcroft is not appointed to Cabinet?
    As for Labour's biggest donor, the flip-flopping Lord Sainsbury, he’s all about good management. He says: “My main interest in life is that the country is run better." Former science minister Lord Sainsbury and former Conservative Cabinet Minister, Lord Waldegrave (“Rhodes Trust” Waldegrave?), are apparently steadfastly agreeing that scientific research must keep pace in the UK.
    The reason I said "flip-flop" is that Lord Sainsbury was a supporter of the Social Democrat Party when it was established; then, he changed allegiance to the Labour Party. Apparently his leaning now is Tory. It’s as though Lord Sainsbury is trying to find a party that will run with the same efficiency and effectiveness of his superrmarket chain.
    Lord Sansbury may be domiciled, but he sure knows how to move shares around to avoid taxation. He maintains the taxation money that he saves is donated to charity; so, he does not make any money from his financial juggling.
    As for Michael Ashcroft, he is secretive (private) because no party wants to challenge his secrecy and his privacy, which they have every right to do since it has taken him over ten years to become domiciled so that he can retain his Lordship. Condition not met = he should be ousted from House of Lords.
    As for Lord Paul, longtime Labour donor, he has announced that he will end his controversial "non-dom" tax status and become a full UK taxpayer.
    How many years will it take you, Lord Paul?
    He saus he will comply with the government's plan to change the law to ban non-doms from sitting in parliament.
    How many years will it take the Government to ban non-doms from sitting in Parliament – i.e. upper and lower houses?
    What a mess!
    The law should be that non-doms do not sit in any level of Government - Parliament, Cabinet, upper or lower house...Nor should they be allowed to contribute to any politcal party.

  • Comment number 100.

    Personally, I would go even further, and stop any donations from organisations as well. Our democracy is all about one person one vote - there is no place in it for companies or other organisation who want to have an influence in our politics.


    That'd be Labour royally screwed then....

 

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