Thursday, 24 January 2013

Will British peer Lord Ashcroft donate to the Liberal Party of Australia in 2013?

Every time I meet William Hague, he reminds me that throughout the British Conservative Party’s long purgatory in Opposition, John Howard was a frequent visitor and a constant source of advice and inspiration and I should say that in the three years that I have been Opposition Leader, my British colleagues, particularly William Hague, have likewise been a great encouragement. [Tony Abbott,Speech introducing UK Foreign Secretary William Hague, Guest Speaker, Menzies Research Centre, January 2013]
According to the Australian Electoral Commission billionaire principal of the British Caribbean Bank Michael Anthony Ashcroft (Lord Ashcroft of Chichester), a conservative life peer in the UK House of Lords, donated $1million to the Federal Secretariat of the Liberal Party of Australia in September 2004  and, another $250,000 in July 2010 (listed as $27,938 in Liberal Party annual return).
The Guardian UK reports that he is one of the biggest political donors in British history. He has given more than £10m to the Conservative party and has been an influential figure for some years.

Of his sizable donation to the Liberal Party, Lord Ashcroft stated in his book Dirty Politics, Dirty Times:

The donation of Australian $1 million – £410,000 – was believed to have been the largest single political donation in the country’s history. I made it prior to the 2004 general election as a show of support for John Howard, the country’s Prime Minister and leader of the International Democratic Union. I have long been a great admirer of John and he was struggling against the Labour Party, which seemed poised to take power. In fact, in October 2004, John secured a fourth term and, if my donation helped him to victory at the polls, then I am delighted.
One wonders if Lord Ashcroft likes Liberal Party Leader Tony Abbott enough to make another donation - this time to the Coalition federal election campaign in 2013.
*Photograph of Lord Ashcroft from The Guardian UK

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