James Forsyth

Labour will relish this opportunity to prolong the Ashcroft story

Labour will relish this opportunity to prolong the Ashcroft story
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When Gordon Brown pulled out of PMQs this week because of Jacob Zuma’s state visit there was much chortling that he didn’t much fancy PMQs. But I suspect that Labour is rather glad that William Hague is up today; no Tory politician is more central to the Ashcroft peerage than Hague, and Hague’s appearance at the despatch box is Labour’s best chance of taking this story into a third day.

Hague will have his line that Ashcroft would pay ‘tens of millions a year in tax’ thrown back at him repeatedly. Hague’s trips with Ashcroft to various foreign locales will also get an outing.

There is something incredibly frustrating about the Ashcroft fallout. It has long been obvious that Ashcroft’s tax status was a story the Tories were going to have to deal with before the election. It would have been so much better for the Tories if they had carried out a controlled explosion of it during one of Labour’s periods of internecine warfare.