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Ashcroft saga -- is it all over now? [Mar. 18th, 2010|06:57 pm]
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The Tories are trying a new tack today in the controversy over Lord Ashcroft's peerage and "non-domicile" tax status. Instead of hiding away, they have gone on the offensive, with William Hague admitting he was wrong to say in 2000 that the deal allowing Ashcroft his peerage would bring in tens of millions in tax revenues to Britain. Tory officials argue that  the latest leaked Cabinet Office papers prove there was no cover-up over the arrangement because Tony Blair's Government knew all about it. They claim this finally draws a line under the affair.
More in hope than expectation, I fear. Baroness (Brenda) Dean, the former print workers' union leader, blew the Tories'  hopes out of the water when she said  the Political Honours Scrutiny Committee (which approved the Ashcroft agreement) was "continually of the view that Lord Ashcroft would maintain his undertaking to take up permanent residence" (meaning he would pay full taxes in Britain). She told the Commons Public Administration Select Committee: "It looks like the commitment and undertakings given were not carried through."
Ouch. True, Labour has a  big headache over  the Unite union and the planned British Airways strikes in a week of tit-for-tat politics over party funding. But the Ashcroft saga is not over yet.