Politics

The damage that even the threat of the virus is wreaking on St Helena

By Lord Ashcroft

St Helena AirportFirst published on Conservative Home on 12 May 2020.

These are difficult and challenging times for many people – but spare a thought for the 4,500 islanders of St Helena, situated in the middle of the South Atlantic.

“Saints”, as the islanders are known, have encountered one problem after another over the past four years – just as they hoped their new airport would result in a huge increase in tourist numbers and, in turn, bring economic prosperity.

Now islanders have suffered another major blow: coronavirus. As yet, there are thankfully no cases of Covid-19 on St Helena but the tough measures brought in to ensure that the island remains free of the virus have once again killed off tourism for the foreseeable future. (more…)

Our NHS needs its own army of volunteer reservists – just like the military

By Lord Ashcroft

First published in the Mail on Sunday on 19 April 2020.

Lance Corporal Matthew Croucher was on a mission to investigate a Taliban compound near Sangin in Afghanistan in 2008 when he accidentally triggered a booby-trapped grenade.

He and his men were heading back to base under cover of darkness when he stumbled into a four-metre tripwire linked to the explosive.

Instead of running for cover, the Royal Marine threw himself on to the device, dropping down backwards and praying his backpack and body armour would absorb most of the blast – an act of supreme bravery that saved the lives of the three other members of his patrol. (more…)

Blue Grit

By Lord Ashcroft

First published in The Sun on Thursday, 16 April 2020.

NHS workers’ priority today is to save lives — for the nation it is giving frontline staff the protection, equipment and support they need to do their jobs.

Once the crisis is under control, the Queen and Government must reflect on making a significant gesture of thanks towards the NHS.Within days of winning his fight for life, Boris Johnson described our health service as “the country’s greatest national asset”, its “beating heart” and “powered by love”.My response was to write an open letter to the Prime Minister suggesting how the nation might show its huge gratitude when the time is right.

My belief is that, for only the third time in 80 years, our monarch should bestow a collective George Cross on the NHS. (more…)

Trump stands a better chance of re-election in November than you may think

By Lord Ashcroft

 

The Coronavirus has changed the world, at least for the time being. But how much has it changed politics? It would take a brave soul to make any kind of projection about the long-term effects of the times we are living through. But my latest polling in the US, collected in my new report The Home Stretch: Campaigning In The Age Of Coronavirus, suggests that the biggest political effect of the current crisis might not be to change people’s minds, but to make them feel more strongly about what they think already.

In the red corner, we have Donald Trump’s 2016 voters. They have remained loyal throughout his presidency, and I found nine in ten of them approving his performance to date, most of them doing so strongly. Almost as many say he has been at least as good a president as they anticipated, with more than half of them saying he had surpassed their expectations.

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An Open Letter to Boris Johnson

By Lord Ashcroft

Dear Boris,

I just wanted to send you my very best wishes as you recover from coronavirus. After watching your video address to the nation on Easter Sunday, I tweeted a link to it with just a single word: “Fantastic.”

I am so relieved that you are out of hospital and out of danger, and I thought your generous words of praise for the NHS echoed the gratitude of the country towards the astonishing dedication of frontline staff. You were spot-on to describe the NHS as the “country’s greatest national asset”, “the beating heart of this country” and “powered by love”.

In fact, it is the subject of the NHS that I would like to address in my letter. As you know only too well from our discussions over the years, I have a passion for bravery, in general, and gallantry awards, in particular. (more…)

Counting on Trump’s performance to see him kicked out? I wouldn’t bet on it…

By Lord Ashcroft

This article was first published in the Mail on Sunday.

As a woman in Michigan put it during my latest round of polling in America: “It’s almost painful to watch. I have to change the channel.” But her comment did not refer to the scenes played out in hospitals and elsewhere as the coronavirus wreaks havoc across the US. Instead, she was talking about Donald Trump’s performance alongside doctors and scientists in daily press conferences that have transfixed the nation. “He’s missing the compassion gene,” said another. “He goes off on a tangent about how rich he is and how he doesn’t need a paycheck. It’s not what people need to hear right now.”

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Recognise the courage of those at forefront of battle against coronavirus

By Lord Ashcroft

First published in the Daily Mirror on 03 April 2020.

During the “Blitz”, the bombing campaign by Germany targeting mainland Britain during 1940-1, our monarch realised that we did not have a way of sufficiently rewarding the courage of our civilian bomb disposal teams.

This was because the Victoria Cross (VC) could only be awarded for gallantry in the face of the enemy.

George VI and his advisors were quick to respond, creating the George Cross (GC) in September 1940 for “most conspicuous courage in circumstance of extreme danger”. The GC, which became affectionately known as “the civilian VC”, will celebrate its 80th anniversary later this year. (more…)

An open letter to Anne-Marie Trevelyan, the new International Development Secretary

By Lord Ashcroft

Dear Anne-Marie

Congratulations on your elevation to the Cabinet. I was delighted to see your appointment to the post of international development secretary given your unstinting efforts to stand up for British interests as an energetic Brexiteer. I must confess to slight bias, however, given that you retweeted an article of mine from 2013 calling for an end to ring fencing of the foreign aid budget. This gives me renewed hope that we might finally see reform of this money pit.

It was kind of you to say my article was ‘interesting’ on ‘the value (or otherwise) of the overseas aid budget.’ As I argued, it defies all logic to commit Britain to an arbitrary spending target that means we must dole out 0.7 per cent of national income. ‘In what other areas of government do we start not by asking what we want to achieve, but how much of our national income we want to dispense?’ I asked. That was true then and it is even truer today.

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If Trump’s opponents don’t learn from Corbyn’s catastrophe, The Donald’s guaranteed four more years

By Lord Ashcroft

This article first appeared in the Mail on Sunday on 16 February 2020.

“They take our votes for granted and think we were born yesterday.” So said a former Labour voter last month in the North East of England, reflecting on what had become of the party he once regarded as his own. While Labour had once been for “normal working people, who pay for their house, pay for their car,” it was now mostly for “young people and students, and the unemployed” – that or “middle-class radicals,” and “people in London who go on marches to get rid of Brexit.”

Such views, which emerged in the research for Diagnosis of Defeat, my new report on where Labour stands with the voters following its worst defeat since 1935, tell us even more about the party’s predicament than the election result itself.

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Labour are in a pickle, but the Tories must keep their heads down: lessons from my new polling report

By Lord Ashcroft

Many Conservatives reading Diagnosis of Defeat, my polling report on the Labour Party’s predicament, will probably have felt a flicker of schadenfreude. It is certainly true that Labour have very deep-rooted problems that go well beyond Brexit and Jeremy Corbyn, the proximate causes of their disastrous defeat. The belief among former Labour supporters that the party had ceased to represent them while taking their votes for granted had been growing for many years, as they explained in devastating detail in my post-election focus groups.

Worse still, the voters who deserted Labour see the party’s problems in a completely different light from that of many of the members who will decide its future. While Labour “defectors” said they did not want Corbyn to be Prime Minister, distrusted Labour’s policies and felt the party did not listen to them – not least because it had tried to stand in the way of Brexit – members were more likely to blame the media, Conservative lies, and the voters, as well as Brexit for dominating an election in which they felt they would otherwise have been on stronger ground.

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