David Cameron, his eye ever on a passing bandwagon, used the prosecutions arising from the expenses scandal to leap upon the one marked ‘new politics.’
Put to one side the fact that his remarks seemed to drive a bus through the age old principle of innocent until proven guilty, they also showed up a phenomenal lack of judgement.
Because his attack would appear to be the thing that is finally bringing to the boil what GB at the weekend called the Ashcroft scandal. All Cameron’s calls for transparency and openness are utterly hollow so long as he and his Party fail to answer the very straight-forward questions about Ashcroft’s tax status, and the conditions he was asked to meet on becoming a peer. The Information Commissioner has criticised Cameron and Co for being evasive and obfuscatory on Ashcroft, and despite the news blackout in most areas of the media, this one is going to blow up as a big issue some time before or during the election campaign.
Watching first Sir George Young and then Michael Gove try to answer simple questions on Ashcroft on Monday’s Newsnight, was just over the embarrassing side of comical.
We now have the situation of Cameron saying one day that it is no longer acceptable for parliamentarians to regard their tax affairs as wholly private affairs, and literally the next day say the opposite. New politics? Sounds like same old Tory arrogance to me. The arrogance of believing you have any right even to ask questions about transparency when you are so closed up about the man who has been pouring huge funds into key marginal seats.
The role of most newspapers and broadcasters has been pathetic in this but the signs are that is changing and that Ashcroft’s bankrolling of the Tories is going to become the issue it deserves to be.
Meanwhile, as another bandwagon rolled by Chateau Cameron the other day, he said that if on any issue people signed 100,000 names on a petition, the issue would be debated in the Commons. Do these people ever stop to think?
It reminded me of a similiarly pathetic and populist move by one time Canadian opposition leader Stockwell Day who said that if enough people expressed a view there should be a referendum on any given issue, a government led by him would grant it.
The team of wily PM Jean Chretien immediately got going on a campaign to get huge numbers of signatures for a petition demanding that the first referendum under the new government be on the question ‘Should Stockwell Day change his first name to Doris?’. Day started to dive in the polls under the weight of the hilarity. Defiant, he said it was not over till the Fat Lady sings. Cue the hiring of teams of overweight singers who turned up at his rallies singing ‘Que Sera Sera’
‘The future’s ours, to see….’ and it is bleak if this lot get their hands on Britain. Come on Labour, Lib Dems, Greens, anyone who knows the Cameron-Ashcroft Party would be a disaster for Britain – let’s get going with Dave’s Doris Day moment. 100k names on a petition calling for a debate on Ashcroft. Papers, radio stations, telly, where’s your sense of humour gone? We need some fun in this campaign.
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