David Blackburn

So what if Zac Goldsmith’s loaded

So what if Zac Goldsmith’s loaded
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Hold your breath, the ‘Zac’s filthy rich’ furore is coming to a front page near you. In addition to scurrilous insinuation about his tax status and the fact that he has spent Walpolean sums on campaigning in Richmond, Paul Waugh breaks the news that the Electoral Commission intends to investigate an allegedly impermissible donation Zac made to the Conservatives.

An impermissible donation is of course illegal, but Goldsmith is innocent until the local Tory association’s case that his was an honest mistake made during the interim between moving out of Kensington and Chelsea and registering in Richmond is disproved. Other criticism is simply bunk. Goldsmith’s off-shore assets were determined by his father setting up a series of trusts under the joint control of Zac and his siblings. Goldsmith cannot change the funds’ status or his stake in them without the beneficiaries’ consent and co-operation, which is not a straightforward undertaking. As for spending the income he receives in Britain, Goldsmith is entitled to spend it on campaigning until the new rules come into force on January 1. As he puts it:

'I do not believe family wealth accords any entitlement whatsoever in democratic politics. But nor do I believe it should be a barrier to my continuing to work for the things we all believe in.'

All this criticism of Goldsmith might benefit the Tories. Lord Nuffield responded to criticism of his spending by being even more conspicuous with his chequebook; I imagine Goldsmith will do the same.