Thursday, October 18, 2007

Ashcroft Goes on the Attack over Candidate Funding

Michael Ashcroft goes on the attack in today's Telegraph, where he mounts a vigorous defence of his role in the Conservative Party target seats campaign and accuses Labour of trying to hamstring Tories who threaten its MPs. Here's an extract...

Two popular misconceptions have arisen about the Tory target seats operation,
the first of which is that I pay for it all myself. I have never made a secret
of the fact that I contribute to the target seats fund, and I am proud to do so,
but I am by no means the only donor – indeed most of the money is given by

The second is that I give money directly to Conservative candidates or constituency associations in target seats. This is also untrue. All contributions, including my own, are given to the party's central fund. Candidates are invited to submit campaign proposals to a committee at Conservative Campaign HQ which I chair in my capacity as the party's deputy chairman with responsibility for field campaigning. The committee – which also includes the party chairman, Caroline Spelman, professional party staff and senior volunteers – assesses each proposal and allocates funds to those we judge most likely to be successful. Candidates who receive funding provide regular updates to the team at CCHQ, which offers advice and expertise and ensures that the party receives the best possible return on its investment.

As well as being in a position to give financial help to the party I support – like Lord
Sainsbury, who has given Labour at least £8.5 million in recent years – I can bring a degree of expertise from my experience in business: raising capital, ensuring the best return, maximising the effectiveness of an organisation.

Read the whole article HERE.


Wrinkled Weasel said...

I am confused.

Earlier you said:

"I received £10K from Lord Ashcroft during the runup to the last general election when I was a candidate"

Lord Ashcroft said:

"Two popular misconceptions have arisen about the Tory target seats operation....
The second is that I give money directly to Conservative candidates or constituency associations in target seats. This is also untrue."

I don't think there is an issue of honesty here or propriety, but the two statements do appear to contradict each other, don't they?

Steve Horgan said...

Barring exceptional circumstances, a good local campaign set against the background of a UK General Election can make a difference of only a few percentage points in share of vote terms, such is the dominance of national media. That having been said, if you are a Labour MP on a small majority, and there are a lot of them these days, then that is all that might be needed for an impromptu career change. Ashcroft's money cannot 'buy' victory, but it can reduce the advantage of incumbency, especially if the Labour MP has been a bit fat and happy hitherto. It will be the lazy do-nothings who are squealing for a change in the law to disadvantage any opponents. The better ones will get on with the job.

Anonymous said...

If anyone is in any doubt they should go to the electoral commission website and look up local associations donation declarations. Any amount from a 'Bearwood Corporate Services Ltd' is from Ashcroft. I have no problem with indivduals make large donations (even if said cash comes from overseas accounts that the individual does not pay tax on in this country)just be blo*dy honest about it. I'm not that clever and i can work out that Bearwood is not Tory HQ

Anonymous said...

Was the expenditure of the Ashcroft money included in the national campaign expenditure total for the 2005 General Election?

If not - why isn't this a breach of the law given that the money was allocated centrally to promote the Conservative Party and its candidates in the 12 months prior to the General Election?

The Hitch said...

So what if he gives his money
If he wants to set fire to it its his business.
He has his peerage, so that isnt his motivation , he doesnt chase public contracts so that isnt his motivation
So maybe just maybe the man cares about this country?
Unlike Gordon, Ashcroft seems to actualy have a pair and admires others who do , hence his interest in men who vin the VC , I also bet that he wrote his own book on courage unlike the sulking **** Gordon who had his ghost written.
i may just be in danger of becoming a conservative party voter again, anything to get rid off this phoney , stupid (and he is stupid) **** Brown and the dross around him.

Anonymous said...

I agree with The Hitch that Brown is thick. He is not light on his feet. He's lumbering, resentful, heavy. He also has an inexplicable air of entitlement. He also has an air of entitlement He's insecure. He only feels safe with his cronies. I don't know whether that includes his wife.

He surrounds himself with 10th-raters for fear that competent people would make him look inadequate.

I still think that Blair is the most loathesome, destructive, vicious Prime Minister we have ever had, but Gordon's right there on his heels. And he's only been in the job three or four months. Give him time ...

And yes. Ashcroft can spend his money any way he damn well pleases.

Anonymous said...

May be the Co-op should be banned from proping up Labour MP's in marginal seats as well then? Or the Trade Unions.

Labour just can't handle the fact that they can not raise as much money

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

hitc, what the hell are you talking about? the issue is he said:
"The second is that I give money directly to Conservative candidates or constituency associations in target seats. This is also untrue. All contributions, including my own, are given to the party's central fund."
which is untrue from the electoral commission reports.

What the hell has this got to do with gordon brown? are you on the wrong thread??

Anonymous said...,,1379702,00.html

Just so you don't think I'm biased, all the bloody politicians are at this game...

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Interesting this one.

If you go to the Downing Street Petition web site, and view all the signatories of the repeal the Hunting Act, you will find that David Cameron and Gideon Osbourne are signed up along with 42000 other morons.

Then view the meagre 14,000 signatures demanding a 2007 election, and Dave and Gideon are missing….Funny that !!!!!

Anonymous said...

Lord Ashcroft is referring to the current arrangements AFTER the 2005 General Election.

The trouble is Labour and the Lib Dems have never been happy with even Conservative Associations that raise large sums of money and then spend it on campaigning. Just because a Constituency can raise £100,000 a year, employ staff, mount effective campaigns and win elections, the noises off, moan that it is all down to a few wealthy tories. In the case of Associations I know in London, this simply aint true.

They have large numbers of members, branches throughout the constituency, who work to raise money.

Then comes an election time, Trade Unions send their staff and their money to feed the local Labour Party. Is that not a contribution. what about third party campaigning. ie UNISON's election campaign based on who NOT to vote for.

Go through the electoral commission's web site and see how many local Labour and Lib Dem Parties raise more than £25,000 a year and therefore have to declare their account - not a lot. Look at the Conservatives and the numbers are much much greater in number.

Note also those Labour Parties who no longer put their MPs contributions (from parliament) to office expenses through their Labour party books, even though they are renting space from their local parties - so to avoid the accounts being published.

On the other hand, look at those who give more in expenses from their parliamentary allowence, but the expenses in the accounts are less than their MP is giving!!!

So can we now talk about a level playing field.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

You don't "think" v, you don't think at all. You only come here to encourage the thugs, I suspect as a leftie persuader of the floater to leave in disgust.

Ralph said...

'I think you'll find he's dishonest and not very good at covering up for it. what a total liar he should be sued!!!'

For you getting things in a muddle and thus making a total fool of yourself?

Iain Dale said...

Wrinkled Weasel. I should have said 'through Bearwood Services' which is an Ashcroft owned company.

Iain Dale said...

The anonymous trolls who are making libellous allegations have been deleted. As will all future anonymous comments of this nature.

Anonymous said...

I'd rather be a Hammer than a Troll!
(good luck sunday)

Johnny Norfolk said...

Look at labour when things dont go their way. They are bad losers. and would prefere to do things in an underhand way.
I could not care what the polls say labour will have no chance at the next election. the broken promise on the EU election alone will see to that.

Anonymous said...

At the heart of this is the debate about whether it is right to "buy" your way into office by over-spending on advertising. In my view this is itself a sterile and decadent debate in this country.

I know no-one who is influenced by the clap-trap of whichever hue; even my 90-odd year-old granny regales me with tales of lies and propaganda from way back, and if the variety of types on this site were reflected in the country, anyone spending more than tuppence on their affiliates is pouring money down the drain, anyway.

Newmania said...

WHat fine example to us all Lord Ashcroft is and thanks to anon 2.38 .That has to be one of the few anonymous comments have seen that is actually enlightening.

WE are lucky , in this country , that we still have such people

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Newmania.

The people who press the "anonymous" button (including me from now on) are not all idiots - some are simply resisting the temptation to take the mickey out of Iain's "free speech" policy. (Either by calling themselves by ridiculous, throwaway names, or by posing as other, serious people (I could name at least two)).

Anonymous people on here are no more or less cowardly than any monochrome person, we just can't be bothered to acquire the identity.

Looking forward to your next poem, but I still don't agree with much of what you believe, especially the "flight" thing, however ironic.

Sanctimonious, but as sincere as you.

Anonymous said...

Lord Ashcroft also mentions that Trade Union staff also campaign in marginal seats.

This was my experience some years ago when I was active in a Tory/Labour marginal where a large Union had it's HQ. On election day - local, general or European - the building was empty and hoards of the brothers would be out knocking on doors.

Of course if they chose to take a day out of their holiday leave that is OK. I suspect however they were given leave to campaign on full pay. As you have to record payment of staff and services on election expenses I am sure the Union + local Labour Party and candidate were in breach of electoral law.


Anonymous said...

Well said Lord Ashcroft.
Let us expose the real reason for the PM's actions - he is scared of losing.

Unsworth said...

@ Verity "He only feels safe with his cronies. I don't know whether that includes his wife.

Where's your evidence for this sweeping generalisation? Judging from his history to date I doubt this is true.

In fact I doubt that he ever 'feels safe'. Hence the evident incipient paranoia.

tory boys never grow up said...

I totally agree that some of the comments you deleted, which I saw earlier today, were libellous - but some were not. It is very noticeable that you in effect deleted any comment that was critical of Baron Ashcroft or pointed to press articles that were critical. The overall result being that there is no criticism of what Baron Ashcroft is saying.

While it is admirable to to defend a friend by shielding him from criticism, and ultimately you can (rightly) allow whatever you want on your blog, I am not sure that it fits very well with your normal support for free speech.

There are a number of inaccuracies in what Michael Ashcroft says in the Telegraph Article

1) he has not made any donations to the Conservative Party (at least above the reportable threshold to Electoral Commission). All the donations have been made through Bearwood Securities, a company which he owns.

While it is perfectly legal to use such a mechanism - one has to ask why it is being used? If Ashcroft is not on the UK Electoral Register then he would not be able to such donations - we do not know whether or not this is the case - perhaps Ashcroft could enlighten us? One of the principles behind PPERA was not to allow those who could vote in UK elections to in effect influence the results through donations to political parties - it would be interesting to know if the Consrvatives support this principle or not or are prepared to continue to allow avoidance mechanisms. It should be noted that Ashcroft has also made a large donation to the Australian Tories - so it would seem fairly clear that he does not support the general principle.

2) Ashcroft says that he (and I am assuming by this he means Bearwood) does not give donations directly to Conservative Associations - well as already pointed out that was not true for the 2005 General Election and if you look at the Electoral Commission website this wasn't true even in 2006 when Bearwood gave donations to a number of constituencies.

What is interesting is why Ashcroft has changed his policy and started to direct all his donations to Central Office? It also begs the question as whether the expenditure of the 2005 donations was included in the national campaign expenditure totals as it should have been if it was used to promote the Tory Party or its candidates?

Iain is also probably incorrect in saying that he received a £10,000 donation from Ashcroft before the last election (or if he did you should have reported it to the Electoral Commission by now). North Norfolk have actually disclosed receiveing 3 donations totalling c£17k in the run up to the General Election.

Newmania said...

Tory Boys

The Conservative Party remain happy to have a low per head cap on donations. They do not sell honours and they are not and paid for by the Unions .I think you have what we call a glass house. If Brown is going to exempt Union Bribes but outlaw other funding sources they we live in the One Party state he dreams of now .

The use made of the communications allownace is well known across the country as is the use of Union staff and money.
WE already know the Scottish siuation as a historical fraud perpetrated on the English as well as the use of £13 billion of tax payrers money to save Browns carreer...why not save Bearings...Southern Rock would have been left to sink ?
How can you support this Stalinist depiser of the English and of our fair democratic tradition?

We are living in what mandy called "the Post Democratic age ..or at least its birth pangs midwived by a nasty freak who cannot even smile except (accidentally ) when rampant infection caused by his targets is brought to his attention.

Evil stalks the land its name is Brown

Anonymous said...

no bearwood donations were made to constituancies after the 2005 election and since ashcroft became deputy chairman. the 2006 donations were 2005 late reportings

Anonymous said...


Ignoring the unpleassantness (it's not very Pam Ayres, is it now?)

You lose me when you say "Southern Rock would have been left to sink".

There were two ironies in the Northern Rock case. One was that it was only in danger of sinking if its depositors had carried on queueing.

The other is that its jittery customers wouldn't have stood a chance if Redwood's de-regulatory policies had been in place.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:24pm

This cannot be correct when donations are reported late to the Commission then such donations are reported on their website using the actual acceptance date. If the amounts received were actually received at an earlier date than that stated - they they were misreported and not late reported and that is a much more serious offence. Perhaps the Electoral Commission should investigate.

Anonymous said...

Barings was not allowed to sink - most of the business was transferred to ING Bank.