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The peer who came in from the cold

6 September 2012

12:34 PM

6 September 2012

12:34 PM

Mr Steerpike reported last week that the Tories’ shadowy donor-cum-puppetmaster, Lord Ashcroft was shunned in America. But it’s not all bad news for the man dubbed the sleaze of Belize. Last night Downing Street announced that he has been appointed to the Privy Council and made ‘Special Representative for Veterans’ Transition’.

While the worthiness of the new role is not in doubt, some observers might raise an eyebrow at the choice of Ashcroft and the timing. The one time Deputy Party Chairman has been very much on the outside since his tax affairs blew up before the 2010 election. And questions about one of companies, BCB Holdings, breaking London Stock Exchange rules arose earlier this year. The PM must be sure that his relationship with the generous lord won’t backfire again.

Ashcroft has managed to stay in the game despite being out of the loop by purchasing ConservativeHome and the largest stake in Dods, the owner of PoliticsHome. Exercising proprietors rights at the former, his interventions, often backed up with significant polling, have been far from helpful to Downing Street. Indeed, the tone of ConservativeHome has become increasingly hostile towards the government. Mr Steerpike will be watching closely to see whether the baubles are enough to buy the disgruntled billionaire.

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