Andy McSmith: Village people

Related Topics

Lord knows

Contrary to what you may have read this week, we still do not know when, or whether, Lord Ashcroft, the deputy chairman of the Conservative Party, stuck to his promise to move permanently to the UK. Lord Ashcroft's peerage, awarded in 2000, came with an unusual condition. He had to give "his clear and unequivocal assurance that he will take up personal residence in the United Kingdom again before the end of the calendar year". So it is legitimate to ask whether Lord Ashcroft has indeed been living in the UK, paying UK taxes like a good British citizen, since 2000. Last Sunday, William Hague appeared to confirm that he had, except that Mr Hague's words were not categoric. What he said, on the Andrew Marr Show, was: "My conclusion, having asked him, is that he fulfilled the obligations that were imposed on him at the time that he became a peer."

When asked whether that meant that Lord Ashcroft was now a UK taxpayer, Mr Hague did not seem to know, but could only "imagine" that he was. Customs and Revenue, of course, don't need to "imagine". They must know, but they won't say. They will not even say whether they know, because – to quote their answer to a Freedom of Information request yesterday – "confirming whether or not HMRC holds the requested information would effectively disclose whether Lord Ashcroft is, or is not, domiciled in the UK for tax purposes".

The mystery continues.

He's had his Phil

Tom Newton Dunn, the new political editor of The Sun, had a baptism by fire this week defending his newspaper's onslaught on Gordon Brown for misspelling a soldier's surname in a letter to a grieving mother. He did well on the whole, although on the Daily Politics show he referred repeatedly to an Immigration minister he called Andy Woolas. Many of the best people in the world are called Andy, but Mr Woolas is not one of them. His name is Phil.


Labour's victory in the Glasgow North East by-election means that the SNP's David Kerr may never join the Westminster village. That is a shame because his gaffes have been the only source of entertainment in a dull campaign. A favourite David Kerr story is how, visiting Asda with Alex Salmond, he approached the woman on the fish counter and asked: "What are you selling here?"

"Fish," she replied.

Safety first

Frank Dobson, the veteran former health secretary and one of a diminishing number of Labour MPs who is not quitting the Commons at the next election, was in Newcastle recently and stayed overnight in a smart hotel. Late in the evening, he tells me, a youth scurried down to reception with an urgent request for a condom. Without batting an eyelid, the woman on duty replied: "Just one, sir?"

RIP 'Thatcher'

John Baird, Canada's Transport Minister, was first with the news. "Thatcher has died," his sombre text message announced. The Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, was informed. Word spread rapidly among 1,700 eminent guests at a gala event. An aide, Dmitri Soudas, drew up an official response. But messages of condolence to Downing Street and Buckingham Palace produced only confusion. Then it transpired that "Thatcher" was Mr Baird's much loved pet cat. RIP.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month  

General Election 2015: Politics is the messy art of compromise, unpopular as it may be

David Blunkett
File: David Cameron offers a toast during a State Dinner in his honour March 14, 2012  

Vote Tory and you’re voting for the rich to get richer and the poor to get poorer

Mark Steel
General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'