The Evening Standard reports that three Conservative associations show in their accounts that they received donations from Lord Ashcroft (the controversial Conservative donor) but that these sums don’t appear in the lists of donations declared to the Electoral Commission.
Of course, this isn’t the first time that an Ashcroft donation to a constituency hasn’t been declared. The previous cases of undeclared donations involved a range of other Conservative local associations, including North Norfolk Conservatives, who received a donation when Iain Dale was their Parliamentary candidate.
All parties rely heavily on volunteer local treasurers, so some mistakes in book-keeping are to be expected and don’t signify sleaze or scandal. (I can think of a case, for example, where forms were returned late one time because the volunteer treasurer was hospitalised just before they were going to send them off.)
However, there does seem to be quite a widespread pattern here, across numerous different Conservative local associations. It’s not just one or two volunteers who made a mistake.
Moreover, this week’s New Statesman has a report into Ashcroft. It raises again the question of whether or not he kept his promise, on being appointed to the House of Lords, that he would become a UK resident and pay tax here. As their piece details, they can’t find evidence that he has, and both he and the Conservative Party won’t provide it either.