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Has Lord Ashcroft stopped giving to the Conservative Party?

By Tim Montgomerie
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ConHome's owner Lord Ashcroft has been in the news over the weekend. The Sunday Times reported (£) that the former party treasurer and close friend of William Hague "has told friends he has given enough money and is unwilling to devote further resources to securing an overall majority in 2015." Lord Ashcroft will speak for himself but my understanding is that it's no secret that he thinks the next election represents an uphill struggle for our party - people only need to read the commentaries on his opinion polling. It's also true, however, that he hasn't ruled out giving to the party's central funds. What, I suspect (I don't know), is more likely is that he'll support individual candidates in individual seats, especially where those candidates have produced the kind of battleplans that he encouraged them to have when he ran the party's target seats operation.

If he has decided to stop giving to the party it won't be a huge blow to Lord Feldman's fundraising. Party funding is more diversely based than at the start of David Cameron's leadership and this chart from the Spectator captures the fact that his Lordship has not been making big donations for some time.

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Lord Ashcroft has also taken part in a Q&A with Andrew Gimson for the New Statesman. You can read the full exchange here and a compelling background profile here but I would highlight three things:
  • He argues that modernisation hasn't failed but, instead, hasn't been completed: "In its true sense modernisation is about whether people think you’ve changed enough to understand them and have their interests at heart, and on that score I think there’s clearly still a way to go."
  • The nature of 'the party of the rich' problem: "It’s often said that part of the Tories’ problem is the idea that we’re the party for the rich, but I think it’s slightly more nuanced than that. What Macmillan shows is that you can be the party for successful, comfortably off people as long as you’re not only for them. One of the most damaging perceptions people have of the Conservatives today is not that we are on the side of the rich, it’s that we’re not on the side of people like them. At its best, and most successful electorally, the Tory party has been about spreading opportunity."
  • ConHome has many rooms: "The only agenda we have on ConHome is that we all want to see a Conservative majority at the next election, and different contributors have different ideas about how to achieve it. There isn’t a monolithic line, which I think is one of ConHome’s strengths."


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