Lord Hypocrite of Foy and Hartlepool
Following confimation that Conservative Party donor Lord Ashcroft has been paying UK taxes only on his UK income (as he is legally obliged to do), the Labour party attack serpent Peter Mandelson has been doing the rounds trying to whip up indignation amongst the media and the voting public.
Am I the only one to consider that Peter Mandelson (or to give him his full title Lord Mandelson of Foy in the County of Herefordshire and Hartlepool in the County of Durham, First Secretary of State and President of the Board of Trade) is rather hypocritical? The same Peter Mandelson who questions Lord Ashcroft’s right to sit in the House of Lords is the Peter Mandelson who was involved in controversy over a mortgage backed by funds from a millionaire friend he “forgot” to declare to the mortgage company, and also over his links to a foreign multi-millionaire who obtained a passport in controversial circumstances. In both cases Mandelson was forced to resign from the Cabinet.
When Labour are getting on their high horses it should also be remembered that they have been heavily funded by “non-dom” Lord Paul and massively bank-rolled by peers like Lord Sainsbury. Whilst no-one has suggested any impropriety on the part of Sainsbury, it is hypocritical, to say the least, for Labour to make claims about Conservative funding.
Lord Ashcroft is a major donor to the Conservative Party but his contribution over the last few years amounts to no more than about 5% of the party’s fund raising effort. That means 95% raised from other donors large and small. There are many misconceptions about Lord Ashcroft, largely peddled by Labour and Lib Dem politicians. He is a party supporter who obviously has a lot of money but unlike most donors he decided to roll up his sleeves and become personally involved in delivering Conservative success. Most donors send a cheque and then stand back. I know from personal experience that Lord Ashcroft has put in a lot of his time and effort to mentor and support candidates as well as contributing money.
However, the myths around his operations spread by the other parties are frankly hysterical. As I have stated before in full Council in response to Labour questions, the Reading Conservatives’ local election campaign has never received a penny in funding from Lord Ashcroft or his companies. We rely on the contributions of local members, supporters and candidates.
Peter Mandelson is throwing mud around and hoping that some will stick but he should be careful that it does not blow back into his own face. Similarly the Lib Dems should be careful about adopting their usual “holier than thou” tone, as they were the party funded to the tune of £2.4m by a convicted fraudster.
With the nation still struggling to emerge from the longest and deepest recession since the Second World War you would think that Peter Mandelson would have better and more constructive things to be getting on with!