Lord Ashcroft is one of Britain’s most powerful billionaires, and as the former Treasurer of the Conservative Party his opinions and political actions sadly affect all our lives.
Wallowing in money is what Lord Ashcroft loves most, which for many years he did at Tyco International, a company based in the tax haven of Bermuda that has its snout in the bottomless trough otherwise known as the US Department of Defense.
Intriguingly Ashcroft gained notoriety for his alleged ‘selfless‘ behaviour in 2002 when he quit Tyco’s board of directors when the muck finally hit the fan following allegations that their CEO and Finance Director had been looting the company for millions.
Both leading executives ended up in prison; found guilty on multiple counts of grand larceny and conspiracy. A legal commentator writing for Forbes, the business magazine, observed matter-of-factly: “They acted like pigs, as a lot of CEOs act like pigs.”
Nevertheless, selfless is hardly the best descriptor for piggy Ashcroft. I say this because in 2000, Ashcroft had been given a peerage under Tony Blair’s government, on the condition that he started paying tax.
As Lord Ashcroft was particularly fond of his lucrative non-dom status, he steadfastly maintained his main sty of choice in the tax haven of Belize, refusing to pay tax in Britain until 2010… only eventually doing so in anticipation of the release of information on his peerage by the Cabinet Office.
When Lord Ashcroft apparently began paying (some) tax in 2010, David Cameron plead ignorance of knowing that one of the Conservative Party’s leading funders had still been a non-dom. This weeks news headlines however contradict Cameron’s fanciful fairy-tale.
The word from his Lordship’s own snout was that Cameron was “fully aware of my status as a so-called non dom. Indeed we had a conversation [in 2009] about how we could delay revealing my tax arrangements until after the election.”
This apparent conspiracy, should in my reckoning anyway, be more relevant to British politics than Lord Ashcroft’s other lurid story that Cameron may have inserted his genitals into a pig.
Labour MP for Leicester South, Jonathan Ashworth, agrees.
Hence, as Labour’s new shadow minister without portfolio, Ashworth contacted Cameron for clarification on this muddy matter; noting that “there lies a serious question mark over the consistency of the prime minister’s statements” on his knowledge of Lord Ashcroft’s tax status.
I will eagerly await Cameron’s undoubtedly Orwellian response to Ashworth’s poignant questions. In the meantime, I will busy myself by attending the national conference of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, to better contribute towards building a mass movement to fight austerity and the dirty lies of our pig-like rulers.
Finally, to butcher a well-known phrase about the control of past-knowledge, as derived from George Orwell’s classic 1984: “He who controls the pigs controls the future. He who controls the present controls the pigs.”
This letter was emailed to the Leicester Mercury on 22nd September.