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Ashcroft – the photo-op Key didn’t want

Written By: - Date published: 9:08 pm, October 26th, 2011 - 24 comments
Categories: crosby textor, democracy under attack, john key, polls, same old national, uk politics - Tags:

Paddy Gower at TV3 reveals Lord Ashcroft, billionaire Tory donor and International Democratic Union treasurer, has come to talk to Key again as he did before the last election. Dave couldn’t come so Lord Ashcroft did. Just discussed politics generally, said Key. Politics yes, generally no.

Ashcroft has bought the majority ownership in the Tory blog ConservativeHome, where he is a frequent commentator. He has been very critical of the Conservatives’ failure to win a majority government in the last British election, and has commissioned extensive polling to try to work out why. His views on negative campaigns are interesting and worth reflecting on.

In this recent blog post  he discusses how the Conservatives need to expand their voter base in order to win a majority. The key points are here, but the whole post is worth reading.

The biggest Tory weakness was the lack of a perception in the Labour targets that the party is “on the side of ordinary people”.  Just 27% thought this of the Conservatives, compared to 46% who thought it true of Labour.

Both nationally and on the battleground, voters named the three most important issues facing Britain as the economy and jobs, the NHS, and controlling immigration, with the deficit and the debt slightly further behind.  There is an important lesson here.  Though the government argues, quite rightly, that getting the deficit under control is a prerequisite for sustainable economic recovery, voters often struggle to see the connection.  It seems to many that we are pursuing deficit reduction at the expense of growth and job creation (and other things they think are important) rather than as a means to it.

In both Labour and Lib Dem targets, the Conservatives had a huge lead (27 and 39 points respectively) on having the best approach to the deficit and the debt.  But on the economy and jobs, the Conservatives were only 9 points ahead of Labour in Lib Dem targets and 7 points behind in Labour targets.  The Tories also led on immigration, welfare, defence, Europe, and (by less than we are used to) crime.  Labour had opened up a 29-point lead in their own target seats on the NHS – particularly disappointing given that we had come within striking distance on the issue in the run-up to the general election.  In Lib Dem targets the Conservatives were 16 points behind on the NHS, but were 2 points ahead on education – despite a 15-point deficit on education in Labour targets.

In New Zealand National’s attempts to widen their voter base via the Maori Party looked good for a while, much less so now. Also Act’s descent from the bizarre to the loony means that any attempt to resurrect them via a Key dog-whistle to Remuera voters to hold their noses and vote for Banks risks the return of the extremist right-wing tag Key has been so desperate to disguise.

Ashcroft’s interests are now devoted to polling and blog communication. Our media ritually ask if he donates to the National Party. He did that in the past to Howard, giving him $1m in the 2004 Australian election. I think it is far more likely that any contribution he makes here would be to a polling company. He could be the client and pass on the results to the Nats. It would all be quite legal. It wouldn’t at all surprise me if Crosby-Textor or Farrar’s Curia polling company were beneficiaries of his interest in our politics. I think that is where the media should direct their questions here; it would parallel what he is doing in Britain.

Finally Ashcroft promised in the above post to return to the issue of widening the Conservatives’ voter base. He hasn’t published it yet, but I’ll bet it was part of the conversation with Key. Ashcroft is very interested in our election, and he does not intend that our fate should be left entirely in our own hands. Having seen Cameron miss a majority,  he’ll want to help Key to one here.

24 comments on “Ashcroft – the photo-op Key didn’t want”

  1. mik e 1

    they want our troops in Afghanistan so theirs can go home
    Ashcroft is the right wings chief propagandist

  2. Hilary 2

    Matthew Hooton was commenting on the other Standard thread today. Maybe he will drop by to answer your questions about Curia and/or Crosby-Textor. Another tactic for Ashcroft could be investing in ipredict to tilt the balance.

  3. Draco T Bastard 3

    From Mr Gower:

    Mr Key is usually quite open when it comes to his meetings with the rich and famous. His critics will argue he kept this one on the quiet because of Lord Ashcroft’s controversial baggage.

    Yeah, just like he tried to keep it quite last time as well. Quite open? Well, quite open when he wants us to know who he’s hobnobbing with this week in order to improve his brand recognition – all other times, not so much.

  4. felix 4

    Does anyone look at that video of Key talking to the press and think he’s telling the truth?


    He’s not even a good liar.

    • mike 4.1

      He gets that shifty look… And slips into that yes, no, no comment, say something vague mode of responses. ‘We just talked about stuff.’

      Lord Ashcroft, author of the book ‘Dirty Politics Dirty Times’.

      Dirty Ashcroft: http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2009/nov/01/lord-ashcroft-belize-scrutiny

      Dodgy Ashcroft: google ‘Ashcroft controversy’ see what happens.


      The BBC describe him as the “Tories’ troublesome tycoon”, saying he has amassed an “immense personal fortune built up through ruthless deal making which has often shocked and unsettled the city of London”.

      Whatever the purpose of Lord Ashcroft’s visit, he was not very keen to be filmed by 3 News as he left yesterday.

      An aviation security vehicle even parked to block 3 News’ shot of him.

      Key says he was just doing what he was told to.

      “I just follow what was in my diary.”

      John Key: just following orders. “He just let me know what was going on.”

      But don’t worry felix, coz Paul Henry sorted this out ages ago:

      • NickS 4.1.1

        “I just follow what was in my diary.”

        Lame excuse is epically lame.

        More so given that the PM does generally have the capability to shitcan anything in the diary that isn’t a function of government, of which meeting with dodgy millionaires is clearly one such thing unless they’re acting in an official capacity for their government.

  5. Ianupnorth 5

    Finally enough I was just on Youtube watching a clip of Key flip flopping, ducking and diving questions about his relationship with him <i>before</i> the last election. Couldn’t remember if he had ever met him and then suddenly remembered he had met him at his home!!

  6. seeker 6

    Had just made this comment this on openmike as I had not seen this post go up but I now think it belongs here so I have moved it. Glad you posted about this Mike.

    TV3 news tonight- -Ashcroft flies in to meet Key -just before an election again. This time Key’s not so reticent about it and tries to make it sound good by telling us that Ashcroft is the deputy chair of the British Conservative party -but he is not. Key misinforms us yet again. Surely he should have known?

    Ashcroft lost the job last year as he was considered a liability! Not surprising considering some of the really questionable things he has got up to. He was especially good at misleading Blair’s government about his domicile tax status to get his lordship title, and was even known as “Blofeld” by senior friends of Cameron. Yipes and yuck.


    Why does Mr, Key keep such questionable company???? Why does he keep meeting this “Blofeld”
    just before elections. Surely it has nothing to do with……….sales and sell outs and being told what to do?

    Come in 007………. and smell the coffee simmering again…. over and out

  7. Tiger Mountain 7

    A proven Ashcroft/Curia/Crosby Textor link would be most interesting. The Poms seem to have relished increased inteference in other countries affairs since the Blair/Dubya years.

    The UK tories implemented a serious attack on the remnants of their welfare state, watch out for a major beneficiary bash here too in National’s election campaign.

    • Caernarfon 7.1

      Pilger describes it as re-colonisation in an era of increasing resource scarcity, especially oil.

      Many places were, after all, originally colonised because of their (real or perceived) resources.

      But can we really go back to the days of ‘the white mans burden’ in the Asia/Pacific given the rise of BRIC ?

      A cursory acquaintance with history will remind us that is precisely what the Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere was about.

      It may be no accident that there is currently a royal tour of Australia, and an interest by Ashcroft and Cameron in Aotearoa.

  8. “We are grateful to the Washington Post, the New York Times, Time magazine and other great publications whose directors have attended our meetings and respected the promises of discretion for almost forty years. It would have been impossible for us to develop our plan for the world if we had been subject to the bright lights of publicity during those years. But, the world is now more sophisticated and prepared to march towards a world-government. The supranational sovereignty of an intellectual elite and world bankers is surely preferable to the National auto determination practiced in past centuries”–David Rockefeller in an address to a Trilateral Commission meeting in June of 1991 

    John Key- Banker and Prime minister

    Don Brash- Banker and Act leader and convoy to Europe’s and American financial bigwigs

    Mike Moore-Banker and NZ ambassador in the US

    Lord Ashcroft- Banker and Convoy from Cameron to John Key


    Here is something I wrote when Brash became the leader of Act.

    • mike 8.1

      I clicked on your link but couldn’t view the scan of the article on John Key’s work history you had there. Can I see it somewhere else?

      Still, I already know he was working at the New York Federal Reserve Bank before coming to rule us. And you don’t get in there without showing your enthusiam for a Satanic baby juice drinking ritual while bathing in the tears of 666 children.

  9. Peter 9

    It would seem that Key has widened his support base by giving the impression that the majority will gain by supporting his policies. As people realise this is obviously not the case you might find his middle lower income support erodes.

  10. Cloaca 10

    What a load of balls. Ashcroft has been a good friend to New Zealand. Even Helen acknowledged it over the Waiouru theft. Without his financial help they would probably have never been returned.

    • Colonial Viper 10.1

      So you’d sell our precious land off for a few bottles of whisky and some bead trinkets eh? (PS you’re not even the one getting the whisky and trinkets, you just get to lose your land)

  11. I have been on about Ashcroft and the Democratic Union for years .He’s here for two reasons help National win then buy up ACC. He’s a crafty unscrupulous money grabber.He’s also a tax dodger .

  12. ghostwhowalksnz 12

    The parties all have various captive trusts available to donate to.

  13. Mike Smith 13

    @ Cloaca

    Why did you choose that name? It was the name for the sewer in ancient Rome.

    • lprent 13.1

      Well I have had to bump two of his comments to OpenMike today for being out of context with the post or surrounding comments.

      A troll arising from the sewer would be my bet

    • McFlock 13.2

      Cloaca is the name given to a single orifice that is used for urination, defecation and reproduction. Commonly found in birds and reptiles.

  14. gnomic 14

    His lordship has a website of course.


    Seems you can read his work *Dirty politics, Dirty times* for free. Also various reports on how to bring the Conservatives to power.

    He definitely has an interest in polling aimed at bringing the Right to power.

    ‘Our complex segmentation analysis has actually revealed that the things that will build and maintain the Conservative voting coalition are the economy, David Cameron, welfare, crime, the NHS, and a demonstration that the Conservative Party shares people’s values. These are fundamentally mainstream concerns that have the potential to expand the Conservative voting coalition and delight longstanding Tories at one and the same time. In other words, attracting new voters need not alienate existing supporters, and we do not have to pursue a separate agenda for each segment of voters. There is no need to engage in elaborate and slippery triangulation.’


    Weasels of a feather flock together. Key and Ashcroft likely share an affection for Israel.


  15. seeker 15

    @ gnomic

    “Weasels of a feather flock together…..” More like nest of vipers

    Having thought how reptilian Micky Ashcroft looked on TV last night it occurred to me what a slytheran like couple of snakes in the grass he and Key appear to be . Even poor old Cameron’s countenance has taken on a certain slithery likeness and as for William Hague, well! In fact I think the best analogy of this potential viper’s nest is from the film “Kill Bill” where Ashcroft can be likened to Bill aka”Snake Charmer” who controls a group of assassins named from snakes- perhaps Key could be Adder the smiling assassin moneytrader……- and I bet they all forkedly speak parsel tongue

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