Andy McSmith's Diary: The real David Cameron Lord Ashcroft scandal

Did Cameron know of Lord Ashcroft's non-dom status in 2009? Andrew Marr couldn't get an answer

Andy McSmith@andymcsmith
Sunday 04 October 2015 21:00
Lord Ashcroft
Lord Ashcroft

Leaving aside the silly stuff about the dead pig, two questions hover over David Cameron as a result of that book, neither of which did he answer satisfactorily when questioned by Andrew Marr on 4 October.

Both come out of the preface by Michael Ashcroft. Ashcroft’s elevation to the House of Lords – from which he has since resigned – was uniquely controversial, in that there was a condition attached that he become a UK resident for tax purposes.

For 10 years, Lord Ashcroft refused to say whether he had fulfilled that condition. Just before the 2010 election, he announced that he was, in fact, still a non-dom.

The preface alleges that Cameron knew but kept quiet for a year. And it damningly claims that Cameron promised him a high-level government job as a reward for all the money he had given to the Tories. Cameron’s answer to that was to point out that Lord Ashcroft did not get a government job. Whether he was promised one or not, the Prime Minister would not say.

‘Call Me Dave’ by Lord Ashcroft and Isabel Oakeshott is published on 12 October 2015

And when asked if he knew of Lord Ashcroft’s non-dom status in 2009, Cameron went off on a tangent – “You’ll find that actually I said in December 2009 that we should pass a law that anyone sitting in either the House of Commons or the House of Lords should be a full resident UK taxpayer.”

Marr asked the same question three times more, but still did not get an answer.

What’s in a lobbyist’s name?

It is not usual for commercial advertising to be part of the décor at a party conference, but a partition wall in the press room here is adorned with the logo of the lobbying firm, CTF Partners.

The “C” is for Lynton Crosby, the Australian-born Tory election guru. “T” and “F” are his business partners, Mark Textor and Mark Fullbrook.

The Tories’ idea of fun

There are stalls in the Manchester conference centre unlike any you would see at any other party conference. Here, you can buy a £170 bottle of cognac, or a £140 cashmere throw, or a pair of lace-up shoes for £395. There is even a stall that will sell you an L S Lowry painting for £795,000 – though they have not brought it with them: it is securely locked away.

There is also a stall run by the British Association for Shooting and Conservation where you can test your aim by firing a rifle at a simulated pheasant (that is pheasant with an “h”. Shooting peasants, with no “h”, is very 19th century).

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