Saturday, October 27, 2007

Ashcroft Accuses Labour Minister of Being "Cowardly"

Earlier this week, Labour Minister Bill Rammell wrote an ARTICLE in The Guardian attacking the Conservatives' target seats campaign chaired by Michael Ashcroft. Rammell is in the fight of his political life with Conservative Rob Halfon and has a majority of fewer than one hundred votes. Today, Ashcroft hits back with THIS letter to The Guardian and says: "It is cowardly for sitting MPs to seek to restrict the campaigning capacity of their opponents while protecting their own sources of support and exploiting the advantages of incumbency".

I really do find it strange that no one mentions the fact that Lord Sainsbury has given far more money to the Labour Party than Michael Ashcroft has ever given to the Tories. And where does most of Sainsbury's money end up? Funding Labour's target seat campaigns. The hypocrisy is breathtaking. I will be writing more on this in the next few days as a very interesting document has come into my possession.


Anonymous said...

You omitted a fairly important word in your quote from Mr Ashcroft's letter. Perhaps coincidentally it's an appropriate adjective for Gordon Brown, our sub-prime minister.

Politaholic said...

How exactly did Ashcroft make his millions, and where was that? Just a question.

Iain Dale said...

Politaholic, why don't you live up to your name?! Michael A made his fortune in large part through his business ADT. You should read his autobiography, DIRTY POLITICS, DIRTY TIMES.

Anonymous, I cut and pasted the quote so I can't see how I could have missed a word out. And it's Lord Ashcroft to you! :)

Anonymous said...

Iain - you know, as do I, that in the marginals local campaigning can make a decisive electoral difference. You also understand that a lot of money buys a lot of campaigning.

In 2005 Lord Ashcroft and friends targeted over £1 million on 93 marginal constituencies. In some, the objective was to protect Conservative MPs with slender majorities; in others it was to soften up relatively safe Labour seats for the next election; but in key seats it was to skew the result in the Tories’ favour. 24 of the Conservatives’ 36 gains in 2005 had been targeted by their localised funding strategy.
In fairness Ashcroft has been quite open about his plans to repeat the exercise at the next election and as things stand there is nothing to stop him.

One way for Labour to counter the Tory threat is to match their cash in the key seats. In the circumstances, that might be regarded as an undesirable but unavoidable short term solution. But I sense that many political activists and the public at large, want an end to the funding race and a return from US-style campaigning to more traditional forms of voluntary activism.

However the stark fact is that the Conservatives need to win fewer seats than they did last time to wipe out Labour’s majority and, if they do, who governs Britain could be decided not by who wins the political argument or even the most votes but by a handful of Tory millionaires in a handful of marginal seats. This should be of concern to anyone who really does value democracy.

Anonymous said...

Lord Ashcroft/ Sainsbury- like for like. People are forgetting that MP's in marginal seats can already leaflet their constituents with expenses and stationary costs which the tax payers foot the bill for. If a wealthy individual wants to contribute to 'even things up' in my opinion- I see no problem with this. Labour have sainsbury, and let's not forget trade unions who pump millions of pounds into funding, and conservatives have lord ashroft. Seems fair do's to me, after all politics is about trying to win the hearts and inds of people, and people in marginal seats like me are fed up of labour

Alex said...

Mike ion: "who governs Britain could be decided not by who wins the political argument or even the most votes but by a handful of Tory millionaires in a handful of marginal seats".

Complete tosh. It can only be "decided" if Labour decides not to contest those seats as strongly. Each party has its own resources and has been pointed out Lord Sainsbury has contributed at least as much to Labour and Lord Ashcroft has contributed to the Conservative party. It is up to each party to decide where to spend their money (and Lord Ashcroft's funding is allocated by a party committee not by Lord Ashcroft). If the Labour party choose not to match the Conservatives targetted funding for campaigns in marginals that is their problem. To try to restrict spending in vulnerable seats is prima facie undemocratic - the amounts at issue (pennies per national vote) are small enough that Labour could raise and spend that amount of money if they could get themselves organised, but they may prefer to (ab)use their power instead.

Anonymous said...

Out the bastards. I note that the BBC web site has no mention of the Lord Hoyle farrago



Anonymous said...

Iain - you may have cut and pasted the quote, but as it appears, a word IS missing. The word "cowardly", which appears in your headline, should appear between "is" and "for" in the quote. As this item currently appears, it looks like Michael Ashcroft is saying that sitting MPs SHOULD have an advantage!

Newmania said...

Lore Ashcroft always fills me with hope and confidence .He seems to combine unlikely qualities like power and sanity , intellect and modesty

Mike Ion SAID
This should be of concern to anyone who really does value democracy.

How can you dawdle though that lengthy sattement of the obvious without metioning that £50000 cap is on the table . Labour will not give up their Union funding and they , not the Consevatuive Party are the cause of the problem. They always have been on this subject

tory boys never grow up said...

Perhaps Baron Ashcroft could answer whether or not the spending of his donations (well Bearwood Securities - Ashcroft hasn't made any donations himself) in marginal seats in the 12 months prior to the 2005 General Election was included in the Tories National Campaign Expenditure return? And if not - why not?

Could he also explain whether he is on UK Electoral Register?

And perhaps others could ponder whether it is correct for someone who is not on the Australian Electoral Register and possibly not the UK Register to interfere in UK and Australian elections as in the Baron's case?

Guido Fawkes said...

I'm sure I did mention Sainsbury only this Thursday.

Anonymous said...

Mike Ion says that "In 2005 Lord Ashcroft and friends targeted over £1 million on 93 marginal constituencies".

Forgive my ignorance, but is this really such a big sum? I vaguely remember that the average constituency has 68,000 people? If so, £1 million spent on 93 x 68,000 people = 16p each! Not even enough for a second class stamp to send a letter to everybody, let alone the cost of the letter or anything else.

So please - let's get some perspective. It's easy to make figures sound large but then when you are dealing with over 6 million people (as in 93 constituencies) what do you expect?

Anonymous said...

In connection with donations to the Labour Party. Barbra Follet, Labour MP for Stevenage,this year claimed £130,000 in allowances. Her husband, millionaire author Ken Follet is proclaiming on 3 Counties Radio that she does not have one penny of it in wages,and likewise for the ten years she has been an MP.Furthermore,Ken claims he subsidises her to the tune of a further £100,000 a year. Let's hope it is all documented and accounted for then.Perhaps some of it finds it way into the Emily's List coffers? What a generous husband Ken is.

Unsworth said...

ADT is not the whole story by any means. However it's amusing that he sold ADT not once, but twice. Now that shows talent.