Monday, March 01, 2010

The Murky World of Ashcroft, Tories, Taxes, and what about Lord Laidlaw?

I am not in the best of humours today. My mood can be best described as foul with a strong undercurrent of teary.

It does not cheer me in any way to have it confirmed that the billionaire who's given the Tories millions is, although he lives in the country, not domiciled here for tax purposes. This means that he doesn't pay UK tax on his earnings outside the UK. And while he doesn't pay tax on his earnings outside the UK, he quite happily sits in the UK Parliament and makes laws for the rest of us to follow.

I wonder if the Tories are arrogant and stupid enough to think that by Ashcroft announcing this today, the issue is just going to go away. He's only really confirmed what we all suspected anyway so I really can't see that happening. I mean, the Tories have been quite happy to shower political patronage and power on a man who doesn't pay tax on all of his income. He does this quite legally, but it's not exactly moral, is it? He's been in a position to influence matters that affect us all, yet he's not putting his fair share into the kitty.

I find Alan Johnson's reaction to Ashcroft's statement bizarre. I mean, he clearly has been a resident of Planet Earth for the past few decades, he's also been a high ranking member of the Labour Party who's been rattling Ashcroft's chain for some time. How then, can he tell the BBC that the news was "incredible" and "a bit of a bombshell." Sorry, but that sort of faux horror just doesn't wash. He then goes on to use the current political weapon of choice by describing him as "unpatriotic." What he thinks about fellow non doms, Labour donors Lord Paul and Sir Ronald Cohen is not clear. And this is a man who was being tipped to be Labour leader before he was put in the Cabinet graveyard job.

The chocolate loving Dr Pack pointed out on Twitter that

"All in all, Lord Laidlaw is getting off rather nicely in the #Ashcroft coverage. Remember his tax/donation issues

The former Irvine Laidlaw, who became a Tory peer in 2005 stopped donating to the Party which in 2008 faced questions over a convenanted loan of almost £3 million from him. Maybe someone can clarify if that's the same loan that appears here as having been converted to a donation?

Lord Laidlaw had until last year been a significant donor to the Scottish Conservative Party.

There aren't so many places in the world where residents are allowed to exempt themselves from tax on their foreign earnings. Americans will, I'm sure, laugh at us for such laxity. Barack Obama published tax returns in full for 6 years before running for President and had to undergo the indignity of been cast as a skinflint for not donating enough to charity.

Let's not forget that while the Tories have been content with the Ashcroft situation, Labour have been in power for 13 years and allowed it to continue. Again these two parties collude to maintain the status quo. They did it on any sort of meaningful expenses reform after the expenses scandal, even when Nick Clegg showed them how it could be done.

On Ashcroft, Nick said today:

"I think if you are seeking to influence the outcome of the next general election... then it is wholly wrong that you basically seek to pay taxes only partially in this country."

Chris Huhne went even further, castigating William Hague, Michael Howard and David Cameron for allowing the Tory Party to be "bought like a banana republic."

One thing that's clear today is that the Tories, and Labour for that matter, don't get why it's morally wrong to accept money in these circumstances. It all smacks of the "it was in the rules" excuses from the expenses scandal.

Our Fresh Start for Britain slogan is quite apt for the times!

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