Politics

Mail on Sunday serialisation of Lord Ashcroft’s new book, Unfair Game, published on 16 June 2020.

By Lord Ashcroft

First published on 14 June 2020 in the Mail on Sunday.

It’s Born Free meets James Bond: The heart-stopping story of how Lord Ashcroft hired a crack team of ex-soldiers – using drones and military-grade tracking devices – to nail the criminals behind South Africa’s lucrative captive lion trade.

I CANNOT abide those who are cruel to animals, but the sad fact is that in our digital age, my strong aversion is aroused all too often. I have lost count of the number of people who post on social media platforms such as Twitter so-called ‘kill shots’ of themselves grinning at the camera (or, even worse, kissing their partner) alongside a beautiful animal they have recently slaughtered.

Revelling publicly in the death of a creature in this way is completely alien to me.

People may be brutal through ignorance or by taking shortcuts to save money, but South Africa’s captive-bred lion industry is conscious, intentional cruelty, sometimes carried out with or for pleasure. I cannot think about this without feeling a burning sense of shame. The question is: for how much longer will South Africa allow this industry to prosper?

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Our emergency service workers are genuine heroes – and those who have sacrificed their lives fighting Covid-19 deserve a fitting memorial in their memory

By Lord Ashcroft

First published in the Daily Express on 06 June 2020.

MY passion for bravery has spanned well over half a century and yet, even now, certain quotations associated with courage still stir my blood.

Thucydides was one of the first Greek historians and a skilled military general.

In the fifth century BC, he wrote: “The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding, go out to meet it.”

Nelson Mandela once said: “The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

These two quotations, which I have long cherished, explain why I have such a deep-rooted admiration and respect for our emergency service workers. (more…)

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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