Total Politics: the Ashcroft connection

This entry was posted on
Thursday, March 13th, 2008
1:45 pm and is filed
under The Political Weblog Movement.

New Statesman – Total Politics or Total Ashcroft?: Watch out Rupert Murdoch, take note Lord Rothermere – there’s a new media mogul in town. Lord Ashcroft of Belize, Tory bogeyman, is secretly bankrolling the new monthly freebie Total Politics, to be launched by the Con blogger and master of self-publicity Iain Dale. Your correspondent discovered Dale squatting in Ashcroft’s 7 Cowley Street basement lair when I paid an uninvited call to the Westminster block. Dale insisted the company was his, with Ashcroft a wealthy investor who’ll play no editorial role. Yet I suspect the involvement of the moneybags right-winger, whose tax status remains an international mystery, will hinder Dale’s attempt to present Total Ashcroft as “politically neutral”. (via)

Given 18 Doughty Street’s difficulties with neutrality, I would have thought Dale’s involvement alone would hinder any attempt to present Total Politics as “politically neutral”, but there you go.

And like Tom, I can’t help but wonder where else money has been secretly splashed about.

(Poor Iain. People might have been more inclined to believe that this was no big deal had he been up front about it, but he made no mention of Ashcroft when promoting the upcoming magazine on his blog. No wonder he’s so quiet this morning.)

UPDATE (5pm) – Lots going on. A fresh email from Dale just in. But I may have to leave you with this while he makes up his mind…

1. Do the test. Seriously, before you read any further, do the test.


All done? With me now? Good.

2. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, yesterday, Iain Dale had cause to ask me to trust him. That had nothing to do with this Ashcroft matter and Iain knows that for reasons that will be made clear in due time (it will even me made clear in due time why due time is necessary). So the following (from one of my key emails to Iain on the subject of trust) is officially spooky (as opposed to a clear indication of a massive leftist conspiracy):

> Think about it; one day you’re going to *really* need the trust of myself or
> other members of the blogging community who have seen the way you willingly
> deceive people. Surely you can guess the rest.

3. Guardian – Ashcroft to bankroll new ‘politically neutral’ magazine: The Tory party deputy chairman, Lord Ashcroft, is to bankroll a new “politically neutral” magazine, it emerged today. The Tory billionaire has agreed to invest in Total Politics, a political monthly magazine being launched in May by Tory blogger and publisher Iain Dale. The revelation, made by Kevin Maguire in his New Statesman column today, will raise doubts about Dale’s pledge to take an independent editorial line… Dale said: “The fact that someone like Michael Ashcroft is interested in investing in a business like this says a lot for our business plan. The magazine will be politically neutral. Just because somebody is investing in a magazine doesn’t mean they will influence the editorial line.”

4. Iain Dale responds to Tom Watson under comments:

Shouldn’t you, er, be running the country, something?

Mr Maguire was wrong. There is no bankrolling at all. The various investors in the magazine are investing on a fully commercial basis and will be expecting a return on that investment. It really is that simple. Seeing as though fewer than ten Labour MPs out of 350 have ever run a business I wouldn’t expect that to be understood, though

5. Iain Dale’s response to me was private (perhaps he has difficulty finding the ‘comment’ button here) but – needless to say – it did not address the issue and it wasn’t entirely grown up in its approach.

6. Iain is so unbothered by this piffling matter that he hasn’t even blogged anything about it. But when I popped over to check if Iain had anything to say to his readers (“Look! I’m in the newspapers again!” would have done) I saw something pass by in the background. I’ve highlighted it, just in case you happen to miss it:

MessageSpace ad for on Iain Dale's website

Obviously, Iain shouldn’t be automatically blamed for the ads served by MessageSpace, so just to clear things up:

To: Jag Singh

From: Tim Ireland

Subject: MessageSpace ads for Lord Ashcroft

Dear Jag,

For the sake of clarity and to avoid uncertainty:

Was the full going rate for MessageSpace banner ads paid for the banner campaign and, if so, by which individual or organisation?

Any details you can provide would be appreciated.


Tim Ireland

7. Oh, I’d love to… but let’s wait for the response from MessageSpace first. I want to be as fair as possible to these people.

[Jag? When you’re ready. I’d ask Paul, but he’s still not talking to me.]

UPDATE (5:39pm) – The official response from MessageSpace:

“We don’t divulge any commercially sensitive info.”

Oh, how sweet. Now they expect you to trust them.

UPDATE (6pm) – Opportunity knocks: Tonight, 11.30pm News 24 with Alex Hilton on Question Time Extra

I invite you to watch it, even if it’s only to watch an opportunity pass by.

UPDATE (12 midnight) – Alex Hilton never tires of being Iain’s bitch, does he? Oh, and David Cameron does knowingly whore his family out and I have proof; watch David Cameron ‘unscripted’ and caught ‘unawares’ in his home.

UPDATE (14 April) – That last sentence only makes sense if you can see the interview, which has since been taken offline, so I’ve scrubbed it. Oh, and here’s a special something for every elected official in the UK who does not want to receive a ‘politically neutral’ magazine from Dale/Ashcroft.

About Tim Ireland

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