Right of Reply: John E Strafford

The chairman of the Campaign for Conservative Democracy responds to an article by Michael Ashcroft, in which the Tory Party Treasurer refuted charges of impropriety
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The Independent Culture
IN HIS article, Michael Ashcroft states: "I do not seek anything for myself beyond the return of a Conservative government" (25 November). Has it not occurred to Mr Ashcroft that people find it incredible that the Ambassador to the UN for a foreign country, who has opted to spend at least 275 days per annum outside the United Kingdom for tax reasons, is donating pounds 1m to the Conservative Party for nothing other than the return of a Conservative government?

Did it cross his mind that every previous Tory treasurer has ended up with a peerage; that the position gives direct access to the party leader, and that as a donor of 10 per cent of the income of the party he is in a position as Treasurer to veto any expenditure he does not approve of?

If he does believe that ordinary members of the party find these credible and acceptable, then let him put it to the test. Let him stand in an election for party treasurer. Mr Ashcroft says he gives the money to the party because he supports the Tory principles of free markets and personal liberty. Does he also support the principle of democratic accountability, and if so why is this principle not applied within the Tory Party?

For democracy to survive in the United Kingdom we have to ensure that those institutions that are part of the democratic process, ie the political parties, are themselves democratic.

The Labour Party is treading the same path down which the Conservative Party has gone. It will find that the patronage of power that attracts the big donors will have the same financial consequences for them as it has had for the Conservative Party. Do we want our democracy controlled by the cosy little club or the control freaks?

This is why, Mr Ashcroft, you should either stand for election or resign.

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