James Forsyth

Labour and the Lib Dems raise concerns over Ashcroft

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The row over the influence of Lord Ashcroft takes another turn with a story in The Guardian this morning about whether or not Lord Ashcroft has returned to the UK and is now paying tax in this country. Labour and the Lib Dems are keen to stoke up this issue and David Heath, the Lib Dems’s constitutional spokesman, tells the paper:

"No one should take a place in the legislature of this country who doesn't pay taxes in this country. If he has reneged [on his agreement] it's very simple: he should no longer be a member of the House of Lords. He has a stark choice. He has given assurances - it's up to him to show he has kept them. If he has nothing to hide, he should make clear he pays taxes in this country like everyone else."

The article admits that it is unclear what the answers to these questions are. But with Ashcroft’s spokesman saying that "Hell is more likely to freeze over" than he is get into a debate about Ashcroft’s tax arrangements, this issue is unlikely to be cleared up anytime soon. What is certain is that Labour and the Lib Dems will be keen to keep the spotlight on Ashcroft. The more he is front and centre, the easier it will be to justify special measures to curtail the marginal seat spending that he is pioneering.

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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