Ask him about Lord Ashcroft's tax status.
Watch him wriggle on the Andrew Marr show. And then ask yourself why the Independent, of all papers, is suddenly being nice to the Tory party with the headline: "Tories finally come clean on Ashcroft tax status"
It quotes William Hague as saying: "My conclusion, having asked him, is that he fulfilled the obligations that were imposed on him at the time that he became a peer." He added: "I imagine that [paying taxes in the UK] was the obligation that was imposed on him." And they call that coming clean.
The exchange, as I have it, starts at approx 1:16:20 and goes like this:
Marr: Do you know whether he pays tax in this country yet?
Hague: er ummmmmmm I'm sure he fulfils the obligations that were imposed upon him at the time he became... a peer...
Marr: So does he pay taxes in the UK?
Hague: I have... I have asked him, and my conclusion having asked him is that he has fulfilled the obligations laid on him at the time.
Marr: That's not quite the question.
Hague: As far as I...
Marr: Have you asked him?
hague: I have asked him, because I've been asked whether I've asked him before and my conclusion having asked him is that he fulfils the obligations that were imposed upon him at the time he became... a peer.
Marr: so does he pay tax here?
Hague: well, that, well....(that pause there is very telling) I imagine that was the obligation that was laid on him at the time...
Marr: So you think he does.
Hague: So I think he has fulfilled what was asked of him .... You can't expect me to know the details of somebody's tax affairs, but I have asked him and he has.
Marr: You must have asked him - it's a yes or no.
Hauge: I have asked him and he has fulfilled the obligations, which include...
Marr: So he could be your foreign policy adviser to you and there would be no problem as far as you're concerned.
Hague: Well, I'm not in the business of appointing foreign policy advisers, we haven't been elected yet.
Andrew Marr goes down in my estimation, by the way, for letting Hague off that hook so lightly. Why does Hague "imagine" - why doesn't he know? "You can't expect me to know the details of somebody's tax affairs", he says
Well, actually, yes, I can,
- when that somebody is the Tory party's primary bankroller
- and the party is using his money to buy the next election
- and the question has been asked consistently and dodged consistently for several years
- and your leader promises to be honest
then, yes, I do expect you to know precisely the tax status of the guy whose jets you borrow.
But he didn't answer the question. He did the time honoured politician's thing of sticking to a formula that he had learned in front of the mirror, and then saying that that answered the question. And he didn't do it very well. And, frankly, if a politician with the experience and front of William Hague sounds embarrassed about the answer he is giving, there is still a question that needs to be answered.