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Lord Ashcroft attacks Labour "hypocrisy" on banning political donations by Commonwealth non-doms

ASHCROFT Michael Lord Ashcroft has today given a rare interview to the Daily Telegraph in which he has attacked the Government's proposed legislation banning non-doms from donating to political parties in Britain:

"It is political grandstanding. Labour is ending some of our old established precedents which allow Commonwealth citizens to come to the UK where they are entitled to vote, stand for Parliament, go into the House of Lords, and make donations. They are not removing their right to stand for office but are stopping them giving financial support. Pure hypocrisy."

However, he refused to enter into a dialogue about his tax status, only saying that "when it becomes mandatory for everyone to discuss their tax affairs in public then I will be happy to do so."

The Conservative Party deputy chairman, who oversees the party's impressive marginal seats operation, also reveals in the interview that he will step down from that role after the general election:

"The work will continue after the election so we maintain political activity in our constituencies over a whole Parliament not just the last few months. It will continue but without me. My work in the party is done. It is virtually all now on autopilot."

He added that he intended to continue supporting the party financially after the general election but rejected the suggestion that he had in any way bought political influence through his donations to Conservative coffers:

"Labour MPs talk about bringing influence but can't name any influence that I have brought to the party. Few people know my political views. Yet they refuse to look at the influence of the unions in the Labour Party."

Unlike the Telegraph's Andrew Pierce, I am not surprised that Lord Ashcroft intends stepping down after the election; as he says, his work is done - and we should thank him for all his support for the party, not least during some of its most difficult days. A fair-weather friend he most certainly is not.

The Tory peer gave the interview to mark his £5 million gift to Anglia Ruskin University.

Jonathan Isaby

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