A fascinating snippet from the memoirs just published by Liberal Democrat peer and former Treasurer, Tim Razzall.
In his book, he talks of the time when Paddy Ashdown was leader of the Liberal Democrats and a meeting with a certain Michael Ashcroft:
Michael Ashcroft was another who approached us. Again, Paddy [Ashdown] was invited to lunch at Michael Ashcroft’s company headquarters and took me with him. Michael Ashcroft sat opposite us across the lunch table with two colleagues and fired a number of questions as to why we thought he should support the Liberal Democrats. He and his colleagues sat on one side of the table with us opposite and it was as if we were being interviewed. We did not think the lunch went well and so I was not surprised to hear that he had later become a big supporter of the Tories and is now Lord Ashcroft, a Tory peer. I assume that he had decided he wanted a political role and was interviewing different political parties. I wonder how the Labour Party fared.
When reading Lord Ashcroft’s own memoirs I don’t recall him mentioning this, and a check through just now doesn’t find any mention of this meeting either.
Indeed, Ashcroft’s memoirs cover the years when Ashdown was leader of the Liberal Democrats as if Ashcroft was a consistent Conservative supporter all through them.
Note: a review copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher.