Getting a straight answer to a straight question can be difficult, but getting the answer to the question put ages ago to Lord Ashcroft has been far worse than extracting teeth. Now he has said what we thought anyway. The reason he didn’t give an answer was that he did not pay tax to the UK government on his estimable riches. Yet he has been allowed to stay inside British politics playing a leading role and influence in the Tory Party.
“Ashcroft today confirmed that he will comply with cross-party moves to prevent people who do not pay full tax on all their earnings from sitting in either house of parliament and will relinquish his non-dom status.
Ashcroft has funded and masterminded a £5m campaign in marginal seats, which is widely expected to strongly influence the outcome of the election.
Ashcroft also published a letter he wrote to Hague, dated 23 March 2000, in which he gives the undertakings conditional to his peerage. It says: ‘I hereby give you my clear and unequivocal assurance that I have decided to take up permanent residence in the UK again before the end of this calendar year. I have given my advisers instructions to make arrangements to give effect to this decision and I will instruct them forthwith to do so within this calendar year.
‘I hereby firmly agree that I will not seek to be introduced to the House of Lords until I have taken up residency in the United Kingdom within the timescale mentioned.’ He also promises to resign as the Belize representative to the UN on March 31st that year.” (Source The Guardian 1/3/2010).
We can guess the outcome against what should have happened long since. Quite simply Lord Ashcroft, together with others (two Labour peers seem to be in a similar position, but New Labour long ago lost any claim to moral superiority). No Ashcroft will remain in government. No the Conservatives will not repay the £5 million donation given by Ashcroft, which could have a considerable influence in a General Election.
A considerable sum of money is used to address benefit fraud, although tax evasion costs something like 15 times more.