Journalism

Oborne strikes again

By Lord Ashcroft

For the second time in a year I find myself under attack from Peter Oborne. Last June the redoubtable Telegraph columnist claimed I had been against the formation of the coalition from the start, which was wrong, and that I was trying to push the Tories to the right, which was also wrong. I was very happy to correct his misapprehensions.

Peter’s new assault is equally wide of the mark, and I am pleased to be able to set him straight once again. He now asserts I am “engaged in an open, menacing and extremely public campaign against David Cameron”. (more…)

My memorable night at the inaugural Paddy Power and Total Politics book awards

By Lord Ashcroft

Last night I spent a hugely enjoyable evening at the launch of the Paddy Power and Total Politics Political Book Awards in central London.

It was an enormous privilege for me to be in the company of the great and the good from the worlds of politics and publishing at the event staged at the BFI IMAX in Waterloo.

The two co-sponsors were united in their determination to highlight excellence across all areas of political publishing. It is long overdue that the brilliant work of our political authors was more widely acclaimed.

(more…)

Former Treasurer Peter Cruddas wins another victory in his bid to clear his name

By Lord Ashcroft

Peter Cruddas, the former Conservative Party Treasurer, has received yet another boost in his on-going legal battle to clear his name.

Mr Cruddas was awarded earlier this week £45,000 in damages (plus costs) against Mark Adams, the lobbyist and blogger, whose original tip to The Sunday Times led to their undercover investigation against him. Mr Adams has publicly apologised for wrongly – and repeatedly – accusing Mr Cruddas of breaking the law relating to political donations. The full judgement is here.
(more…)

Changing times means the Government needs to rethink the future of The Times

By Lord Ashcroft

As the editor of The Times, James Harding produced a lively, award-winning newspaper as well as enjoying the admiration and support of his staff.

However, this week he learnt that to survive in the post every editor also needs the confidence and backing of his, or her, proprietor – particularly when that person is Rupert Murdoch, the world’s most powerful media mogul.

I discovered some months ago through senior sources that Mr Harding was on borrowed time – for various reasons he had lost Mr Murdoch’s confidence to an extent where the relationship could not be repaired. After that, there was only going to be one outcome – Mr Harding’s departure. He resigned on Wednesday.

(more…)

Too many political stories are trivial. That doesn’t mean they don’t matter

Newsprint

By Lord Ashcroft

It is a frequently heard complaint in Westminster that political reporters and commentators do the public a disservice by obsessing over trivial “process stories” at the expense of things that actually matter.

Certainly it can be exasperating when, as has happened recently, journalists write unhelpful process stories and the following day criticise the government media operation for the proliferation of – guess what – unhelpful process stories. Of course, complaining about the media is not likely to get you very far in politics. And the best way to stop them reporting trivia is to make sure they have something significant to report instead.

(more…)

Review of George Osborne: The Austerity Chancellor

Austerity Chancellor

By Lord Ashcroft

 

Text of my review of George Osborne: The Austerity Chancellor by Janan Ganesh, which appeared in the Guardian on Saturday.

 

What sort of politician is George Osborne? The fact that you can read Janan Ganesh’s detailed and illuminating book about the chancellor and still be left wondering shows how difficult the question is to answer. Conflicting views are offered as to where Osborne lies on the spectrum between pragmatist and ideologue. Nevertheless, Ganesh skilfully presents the rise of a politician “fixated on the centre ground”, whether that fixation results from principle or electoral calculation.

(more…)

Which party does The Sun support? Do Sun readers know?

By Lord Ashcroft

The Leveson Inquiry, which is now heading towards its second year, has spent the last few weeks considering “the relationship between press and politicians”. It is taken as read that this matters a great deal. An assumption exists that a newspaper may deploy huge influence over the votes of its readers in the service of the party that most pleases its proprietor.

Attention has naturally focused on Britain’s biggest selling daily newspaper, The Sun. But how real is The Sun’s political influence over the public? Leveson has examined minutely the relationships, in the run-up to the last election, between D. Cameron, R. Murdoch, G. Osborne, J. Murdoch, A. Coulson, R. Brooks and her horse – but have most Sun readers even noticed their paper’s support for the Tories?

(more…)

“Lord Ashcroft’s Tory right”? A response to Peter Oborne

By Lord Ashcroft

I always enjoy Peter Oborne’s writing. Part of the fun is that you never know what he is going to say next. His latest theory, which he expounds in today’s Telegraph, is that I am using my vast power single-handedly to push the Conservative Party to the right and undermine the workings of the coalition government. Flattering though this portrayal is in some ways (“one of the most influential and potent figures in the wider Conservative movement”, no less), I must point out one or two flaws in his argument.
(more…)

The Daily Mail and its brand

By Lord Ashcroft

If you were sitting in a waiting room, and all the day’s newspapers were spread before you, which one would you pick up and read first? And if you were to ask, say, ten thousand people the same question, what do you think would be the most popular answer?

(more…)