Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Monday, 1 March 2010

Ashcroft - "Someone on your side did it too" is no defence

Following the admission this morning from the Tory Lord Ashcroft that he is non-domiciled for UK tax purposes I have just spotted the following from Eric Pickles on Twitter:

19 minutes ago from UberTwitter
@johnprescott have you told Lord Paul to pay back 10 years of tax or shall I tell him?

8 minutes ago from UberTwitter
@johnprescott have you told Lakshmi Mittal to pay back 10 years of tax or shall I tell him?

4 minutes ago from UberTwitter
@johnprescott have you told Sir Ronald Cohen to pay back 10 years of tax or shall I tell him?

The other day when Labour were using the fact that Andy Coulson has been implicated in bullying allegations in response to the accusations against Brown, I pointed out that this attempted defence or deflection was very weak.

I am afraid the same applies here. Pickles should reflect on why it has taken years for Ashcroft to admit this, the damage it has caused to them and repairing this rather than trying to fling mud at the other side as a reflex response. It does not look good. Any party, including the Lib Dems that have non-doms will need to sort this out.

The Tories should concentrate on getting their own house in order.


Richard Gadsden said...

Non-doms are, by definition, people who aren't loyal to the UK. Why are they allowed to influence Britain's politics then?

Jim said...

Given the LibDems are the recipients of fraudulently obtained money, I think a little silence on large party donors would be in order.

At least the Lords in question (Tory and Labour) made their money through legitimate business activity, and they have the right to dispose of as they see fit.

dazmando said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dazmando said...

Jim I agree that there are problems with Lords and Non Dom status and infact with payments made to all 3 main parties and UKIP. Its the rules on Donation that are the problem but the only way to really fix this is to have parties funded by the state, Which would be very unpopular.

But Ashcroft is highly active and very high up in the Ranks of the Tory Party and he has given so so much money.

This is a bit like the expenses, no one comes off well with the defence of saying there as bad or almost as bad, but just like the expenses there are diffenent levels of wrongs, Ashcroft being the worst.

Cardinal Richelieu's mole said...

As I understand, the reasons a fuss is made at all is (1) the idea that people in or seeking government office should have a lifetime commitment to this country (therefore somehow betokening "loyalty") and (2) they should pay tax here.

The "non-domiciled" status is only a tax designation and its distinction in tax law from "domiciled" is usually only that HMRC can tax worldwide income of the domiciled, but usually only UK or remitted to the UK income of the non-domiciled.

By virtue of having non-domiciled status at all it means HMRC is classifying an individual and that does not tend to happen without such person also being assessed for tax. Hence, (2) is taken care of.

(1) is nonsense anyway. How do we know, for example, that multi-millionaire Blair does not and has not since his time in office planned to retire to a palace in Tuscany? If so, it did not stop him being loyal - nor a war criminal (allegedly)who has done lasting harm to this country.

Jim said...

@Dazmando: I would have said being in receipt of money that was potentially fraudulently obtained (even if you received it in good faith) was the worst scenario for a political party, rather than some arcane argument over whether someone is sufficiently 'loyal' to the UK or not because they have managed to arrange their tax affairs so they only pay tax on their UK earnings.

Its a good job for the Lib Dems that money is highly fungible - if I receive, or even buy, an item (unknown to me) that is stolen, I have to give it back to the rightful owner if the fraud/theft is discovered. Of course there is no way of knowing exactly how much (if any) of the donation to the LDs was actually stolen from someone else. But the moral position seems clear............