The Ashcroft saga, not surprisingly, spills over in the Sunday papers. It may not be having much effect down at The Voters’ Arms, but it causing deep divisions within The Tory party.
Mandelson & Co will not let the matter rest with the news that Ashcroft will stand down from his present position after the election. David Miliband made this point:
The culture of concealment goes to the top of the Tory party. David Cameron took hard cash without asking the hard questions
Labour are going use the Ashcroft saga to question the judgement of both William Hague and David Cameron.
Moving on from that, Matthew d'Ancona, very much a Cameron supporter says, “the damage is already done”:
The process is incremental: the Deripaska affair and George Osborne’s yacht-fondling, Zac Goldsmith’s non-dom status, the Joanne Cash episode, and Sir Nicholas Winterton’s declaration that standard-class rail passengers are “a totally different type of people”.
Each story does a little more to confirm the voters’ residual fear that the Tory party is a political front for a gang of people who want to govern so they can do the hell they like. Whether or not the fear is justified is irrelevant. It is an electoral reality, and one which should be uppermost in every Tory’s mind, every day - especially now.
But there is something else.
All successful Prime Ministers have to demonstrate the art of being ruthless, not only when they are in office but before they climb to the top of ‘the greasy pole’.
What Cameron has got to do, before it is too late, is cut Ashcroft loose and prove to himself, his party and the country that he is both ruthless and decisive.