Sunday 14 February 2010

The difference between Lord Ashcroft and Lord Paul

Lately the Conservative Party have been defending their position on Lord Ashcroft's tax status by claiming that it is a private matter, and that there is no difference between him and the Labour donor Lord Paul.

But there is, in terms of the way in which they were made peers. When Lord Ashcroft was made a peer, it was on the basis of a promise from the Conservative Party that Ashcroft would become a UK tax payer. The issue is not his actual tax status so much as the fact that a promise was made which the Conservative Party is refusing to make good on. They cannot claim that it is a private matter, because they need to demonstrate that their promise has been kept. No such promise was made about Lord Paul, so far as I am aware.

There is another Conservative lord and promise dodger, Lord Laidlaw, who gave a specific written undertaking to become resident in the UK when he became a lord, and now some seven years later still resides in Monaco. Also, coincidentally, he is a substantial donor to the Conservative Party.

Cameron's been saying lately that governing is about character. These episodes demonstrate the character of the Conservative Party - people who make all sorts of promises in order to get what they want with the firm intention of weaselling out of them. I wonder how much of their manifesto we will be able to believe.

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