Tag Archives: Lord Ashcroft

Lewis Hamilton hammered for making charity appeal while avoiding tax. But is he the worst offender?

Lord Ashcroft hid in a toilet to avoid answering allegations of tax avoidance. How many other shadowy businesspeople are keeping their heads down in similar ways?

Lewis Hamilton should have known: You can’t avoid paying tax on your private plane and expect people to praise you for asking other people to give.

It is therefore no surprise that his support for the BBC’s Children in Need appeal garnered this response:

https://twitter.com/AbiWilks/status/931873303572156418

He has also been supporting other efforts to attack poverty:

https://twitter.com/LewisHamilton/status/931186816010604544

But here’s the thing:

And that’s exactly the point. By avoiding his tax obligation, Mr Hamilton – the UK’s highest-paid sportsman, unless I’ve been misinformed – is depriving the state of the cash necessary to fund schemes that would help lift children out of poverty, in a way that charities simply can’t achieve.

Of course, there are alternatives to harsh criticism:

And of course, Lewis Hamilton isn’t the only tax avoider in the UK.

We know about him because reporters on the BBC’s Panorama knew that he is a big name that would attract interest.

What about the really serious offenders? These are the businesspeople who make a career out of cheating the nation out of their tax obligation.

It might be legal, but it sure isn’t moral.

Lord Ashcroft was the token businessperson mentioned by Panorama, but there are plenty more – and they deprive us of billions.

Who are they?


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Let’s not forget #piggate: Ashcroft source denounces ‘omerta’ around Cameron

James Delingpole, a journalist and rightwing polemicist, defended “squealing” on Cameron’s drug use – Delingpole told Lord Ashcroft’s co-author, Isabel Oakeshott, that the pair had smoked cannabis and listened to Supertramp – while they were students at Oxford. Writing in the Sunday Times, Delingpole said that he had been heavily criticised for breaking the “wretched omerta that the Cameron set so fetishise for all the world as if they’d been at [code-breaking centre] Bletchley Park”.

The unofficial biography of Cameron, written by the former Conservative party deputy chairman and donor Ashcroft, dominated headlines this week, after a series of claims in the book about the prime minister’s involvement in drug-taking, a bizarre dinner club initiation ritual that reportedly involved putting his penis in the mouth of a dead pig, and that he knew of the peer’s offshore tax status earlier than previously stated.

Source: Ashcroft source defends revelations about Cameron’s student days | Politics | The Guardian

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Pig-gate: It seems David Cameron has done more than put his snout in the trough

flyingpigs

When Tories fight, the battle can turn very mean indeed.

It seems Lord Ashcroft, upset that David Cameron did not offer him a top job in the Coalition government after the 2010 election, has revealed details of an incident during the Prime Minister’s student years in which Call-Me-Dave allegedly had sexual relations with a dead pig’s head.

Has any UK Prime Minister been able to weather such extreme allegations in the past?

It seems there is photographic evidence. If this exists, the image must be really grisly and if it ever comes to light, one wonders how much of it will be fit for publication.

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Tories are trying to buy the election with ‘quiet’ candidate spending hike

141214torydonations

Candidates in the general election will have 23 per cent more money to spend after the Tories slipped the increase through without debate. This only applies if any candidates other than Tories actually have that much money, of course.

The Observer has reported that, under the new limits, the total amount the candidates of each political party can spend has increased from £26.5m to £32.7m.

In March, the Electoral Commission recommended there should be no such increase in spending limits for candidates over the so-called “long campaign” period between December 19 and general election day on May 7.

The change to the law on candidates’ election spending, passed without parliamentary debate, was made despite a direct warning by the commission against “excessive spending” in order to “prevent the perception of undue influence over the outcome of the election”.

Ministers changed the law through a statutory instrument, the terms of which were not debated in the Commons, which is used more properly for consensual changes in the law. A Labour source said the move had not been spotted by them at the time, so they missed the chance to force a vote in the Commons.

It’s too late for that now.

We know the Conservatives have much more moolah than any of the other parties – let’s face it, they have spent all of their period in office changing the law to make it possible for the extremely rich and big businesses to donate increasingly ludicrous amounts to Tory Party funds, and this is the reason.

For example: In the past four years, 27 per cent of the £78,010,807  the Tories have raised – £21,072,508 – has come from hedge fund donors. George Osborne’s 2013 budget abolished stamp duty reserve tax on funds, a £145m giveaway to those very same hedge funds. That’s just one example.

The Observer states: “With the Tories having amassed a £78m war chest over the past four years, they can now funnel huge amounts of cash into key seats.”

We know that the Tories won more seats than anyone else at the 2010 election by throwing ridiculous amounts of Lord Ashcroft’s money at marginal seats and by lying about their policy intentions. This undemocratic move – there was no Parliamentary debate and one can hardly say it has been announced loudly; did you even know this decision was made in the summer? – clearly states their intention to repeat the same grubby, underhanded manoeuvre next year.

And we know that David Cameron has made this decision against the advice of the Electoral Commission – meaning that it should be plain for all to see that this is yet another corrupt decision by the most corrupt government of the last century.

What else are we to think of this? Lucy Powell MP, Ed Miliband’s election strategist, had a few well-chosen ideas on that subject. Writing in The Guardian, she stated:

“With only a record of failure to run on, David Cameron’s campaign is reliant on smear, fear and fat cats’ chequebooks. This is a party flush with big money backers but without the empathy or ideas the country needs, so they are rigging the rules of our democracy in their favour.

“When he was first leader of the opposition, David Cameron said he wanted to take the big money out of politics. He promised to address the ‘big donor culture’, arguing that we should ‘cut what is spent on a general election’. Yet he has now cynically changed his tune. Desperate to hang on to power, the Tories have quietly changed the rules to allow them to spend big in the runup to the election. The changes would allow them to spend millions more than they’re presently allowed, paving the way for Tory propaganda to flood constituencies.”

Opponents of Tory tyranny cannot match the Nasty Party’s spending power. All we have are our own voices and the facts.

That’s why next year – more than ever before – we have to put the message out to protect the public against the next wave of lies and ‘spin’.

The Tory Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act means we can’t spend any appreciable amount of money doing this, but they can’t stop us talking and they can’t stop us publicising the facts.

It’s up to us – all of us – to show the Tories that money isn’t everything.

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UKIP wins in Clacton – but what does it mean?

141010clacton

It means people in Clacton actually like Douglas Carswell and Lord Ashcroft was right in his tweeted appraisal of him:

ashcroft-carswell

Of course, that’s not what David Cameron has been saying. His mantra is – as many of you will be aware: “Vote UKIP – get Labour.”

He’s wrong, of course. People aren’t thinking in those terms at all.

They’re thinking: “Vote UKIP – get rid of the Conservatives.”

It’s just a shame that they are also wrong; Carswell is still a Conservative – all he has done is swap a conservative party for another conservative party, that is more extreme than the one he just left.

The other notable factor in yesterday’s by-elections is the BBC’s continuing (if tacit) support for UKIP – which can be seen most clearly in its references to the Heywood and Middleton election.

“Labour held on to Heywood and Middleton but UKIP slashed its majority to 617,” states the BBC report, which merrily misses the fact that UKIP remains unable to take Parliamentary seats from Labour.

Labour supporters don’t want UKIP.

Labour supporters don’t need a political party that is more regressive than the Tories.

Labour supporters agree with Ed Miliband, that UKIP “do not represent the interests of working people”.

Read between the lines. Who was UKIP’s candidate in Heywood and Middleton? The BBC report doesn’t name this person until very far down its story.

If you read the mass media coverage, you’ll think UKIP was the only party in these by-elections. Don’t.

If we are to learn anything from the result, it is that the Conservative Party is in deep, deep trouble.

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Former Tory Party deputy chairman supports UKIP candidate in by-election – Pride’s Purge

It seems there are a couple of by-elections taking place today (Thursday) – how exciting! Yes? No?

Lord Ashcroft seems to think so. He’s been indicating his own support for one of the candidates, according to this report in Pride’s Purge:

Former Conservative Party treasurer and deputy chairman Lord Ashcroft has tweeted his support for the UKIP candidate in today’s by-election in Clacton:

ashcroft-carswell

When even Tory Party peers are supporting UKIP against their own party – Cameron clearly has a BIG problem on his hands.

To be honest, the tweet in question doesn’t seem as rebellious as Tom is suggesting, although it is on the verge. More serious will be the problem facing him if Carswell wins, as it could sound the death knell for all Conservative hopes of ever having another majority government in the UK.

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Wannabe tyrants’ flimsy excuses for blocking non-party campaigning

Loss of freedom: Every day the Coalition government tries to take something away from you; at the moment, it's your right to criticise.

Loss of freedom: Every day the Coalition government tries to take something away from you; at the moment, it’s your right to free speech.

With the Antisocial Behaviour Bill successfully blocked (for the time being), defenders of Free Speech may return to the Transparency of Lobbying Bill, and its provision to block any campaigning that our right-wing government doesn’t like.

Caroline Lucas MP, writing in The Guardian today, informs us that the Tories’ and Liberal Democrats’ current rationale for the plan to gag us all is to prevent, say, large fracking firms from spending huge amounts of money in her Brighton Pavilion constituency to unseat her.

The Green Party MP writes: “Yes, apparently Tory and Lib Dem supporters of the bill are defending its swingeing provisions at public meetings up and down the country by claiming they’re necessary in order to prevent fracking firm Cuadrilla pumping a million pounds into Brighton Pavilion to unseat me, and – of course – they would hate to see that happen.”

This is laughable. No member of one party would lift a finger to prevent a member of another from losing their seat.

However, we can use this argument to get to a more likely truth – simply by reversing it.

So let’s suggest that the plan to cut, drastically, spending limits on campaigns by third-party organisations, to broaden the definition of what constitutes campaigning in order to catch more people within the legislation and to regulate organisations lobbying on issues at constituency level is in fact intended to protect Conservative and Liberal Democrat seats from attacks by ordinary people like you and me.

Does this seem more likely?

The evidence does tend to stack up in favour. The legislation is already well-known as the ‘Gagging’ Bill and, as Ms Lucas explains in her article, “would effectively shut down legitimate voices seeking to raise awareness on issues of public interest, whether they are on NHS reform, housing policy, or wildlife conservation”.

Taking just those three examples, the general public remains infuriated at the way the Health and Social Care Act – otherwise known as the NHS Privatisation Act – was pushed through Parliament while mounting public and professional opposition to its provisions was ignored. We counted on our representatives in Parliament and in the press and they let us down. The BBC in particular should hang its corporate head in shame. The ‘Gagging’ Bill would ensure that we could not raise the issue again during an election period, giving the Coalition parties a chance to brush it under the carpet or dismiss it as old news.

The Bedroom Tax will remain a burning issue until after the 2015 election, whether the government likes it or not – the recent revelation that regulations governing people who were social housing tenants before 1996 exempt them from the Tax ensures it, as the government has already committed itself to re-writing those regulations and re-assessing the tenants who are currently let off the hook. Not only that, but tenants who have already lost money – or perhaps even their homes – because they didn’t know these regulations still applied will want reparation for the way they have been treated; let’s not forget that any harm done to those tenants is an illegal act. The ‘Gagging’ Bill would sideline these people and this issue.

As for wildlife conservation, you may be aware that there has been a hugely controversial cull of badgers in a couple of English counties. The pretext for this is the eradication of Tuberculosis – the badgers are said to carry the disease and pass it on to cattle, causing costly damage to herds. However, it seems not one culled badger has been tested for the disease – and at £4,100 per dead badger, is the cull not fairly costly itself?

Coming back to the Guardian article, Ms Lucas hits the nail on the head: “Big business or wealthy people like Lord Ashcroft don’t influence politics through charities, small community groups or campaigning organisations. They often already gain it through family connections or social networks, or they buy it through donations to political parties. Or, in the case of the big energy companies, they helpfully supply staff to work in government departments. The provisions of the lobbying bill will do nothing to stop any of that.

“Sadly, one of the underlying reasons for the government’s attempts to push through this bill is that it is afraid of the power of informed and organised public opinion.

“If Nick Clegg and David Cameron get their way, the legitimate voices of the third sector will be suppressed, and their power neutered.”

Isn’t that what tyrants (or in this case, wannabe tyrants) do?

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