Are Mike Weatherley, Simon Kirby and Charlotte Vere receiving any of Ashcroft’s Billions?

The Tories have come to town and focus is on Brighton Pavilion, but it is the Brighton Kemptown and Hove & Portslade constituencies that should be attracting close scrutiny because of the funding they receive from ‘Tory HQ’.  Because behind Central Office funding lurks the shadow of Lord Ashcroft.

And the question is being asked: “Does the noble Lord pay income tax in the UK?” or does his heart, and tax status remain in Belize?

The Independent today alleges that huge sums of money are being channeled into key marginal seats that David Cameron needs to win to see him elected as Prime Minister.

The Brighton Kemptown majority is 1,853 while in Hove and Portslade it is just 448, and both are in the top 50 targets. Both have received ‘Ashcroft’ money – cash allocated by a Conservative committee chaired by the billionaire Ashcroft.

Simon Kirby (Brighton Kemptown) and Mike Weatherley (Hove &  Portslade) should do the decent thing and refuse this money if it is not clear (a) whether the cash originated from Ashcroft and (b) whether he is actually a UK tax payer.

It is not clear whether Charlotte Vere’s campaign is receiving similar funding. Perhaps she, together with Kirby and Weatherley, could put out a statement to help voters make their decision, not least because Ms Vere has been so outspoken about Caroline Lucas and her expenses.

6 Responses

  1. Charlotte Vere has recently denied receiving Ashcroft money on her blog.

    Would be interested what the formula or logic is to who gets this money and who doesn’t.

    Does it mean pavilion is not a target seat for them, or has Charlotte refused the money on principle?

  2. Pavilion is a low target for the Tories. Now that the Tory lead has shrunk to 2%, I think it’s unlikely we’ll see Ashcroft money at work in Pavilion.

    Both Charlotte and Nancy will struggle to get volunteers and helpers to assist them in the final weeks of the campaign. The Greens are now at a point where they can cover half the constituency in one day. None of the other parties have that luxury.

  3. But would Ashcroft’s billions, portion thereof, do any good for the Conservatives in Hove?

    I am not hearing any great enthusiasm for them. It is going to be another interesting time. Nicholas Boles spent lavishly last time, and lost to Labour, which put in a grassroots campaign once they had chosen Celia Barlow. Boles certainly did himself no favours with that Zeppelin which, tethered in a garden, made many voters fear it would crash in their gardens.

    True, Mike Weatherley has recently put out a document full of pie charts about local issues, the result of some “survey” of uncertain provenance undertaken eighteen months ago. I am not sure that many people can take in so many charts, it all gets a bit monotonous.

    The key element is surely the LibDems. Which is perhaps not something one often hears said in Brighton and Hove at the moment.

    But the fact is that last time Paul Elgood did rather better than some may have anticipated. Perhaps some of that was Iraq reaction.

    Where will that vote go this time? Could it go back to Labour, with Celia Barlow having worked a great deal more locally than some people give her credit for? Could it go across to the Greens, especially with the Pavilion cross-fertilisation and Goldsmid win? Will some plump for the Tories?

    Or, could the LibDems increase their vote?

    This is surely the wild card across the three constituencies.

    It depends upon how much the LibDems do, and the way that the swing states go within the key marginal of Hove and Portslade. There are four or five of these.

    I’ll go out on a limb here: a LibDem win is not impossible. Which I suppose is another way of hedging one’s bets in a constituency in which, before long, residents will not be able to move for national microphones.

  4. Turns out Ashcroft is a non-dom. He finally bucked up the courage to come clean.

    (Seems like the Tories don’t want it becoming a thorn during the campaign)

  5. Being part of the Cameron ‘donut’ at his election speech may be Charlotte Vere’s undoing. Charlotte has tried to justify non-dom participation in politics by a weak defence of Zak Godlsmith, but can she deny that Lord Goldsmith has been funding political activity in Brighton? If she draws anything from a central pot she’s in trouble, despite blog denials. Goldsmith has been forced through relentless questioning by journalists to admit his non-dom tax status and this makes his £4 million look like dirty money (he was originally rejected as a peer by the Political Honours Scrutiny Committee and there’s an investigation into his donor company (biggest single donor to the Conservatives in the last five years). The problem the Conservatives face is the unravelling of their cronyism and the willingness of new entrant candidates to defend the indefensible.

  6. To her credit Charlotte has said that she hasn’t touched Ashcroft cash but, I think we deserve an answer from Mike Weatherley and Simon Kirby.

    It willl leave a big, black mark on their campaign if they don’t come clean.

    Let’s put it this way, I think we’ll find out one way or another.

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