The Ashcroft row shows few signs of running out just yet, although the one crumb of comfort David Cameron's team can probably take is that it will likely be a dead issue by the time of any election. Best to get it out of the way now I suppose. Channel 4 News today had got hold of a hitherto unheard of 'top Tory lobbyist' who despairs of the Tory Party. And well he might, although much of the problem seems to lie within a party that has taken leave of its discipline. There is certainly a serious issue regarding Lord Ashcroft, a man who appears to have back-tracked on an agreement made with then party leader William Hague. It is the broken agreement, rather than his non-dom status (significant though that is) which is souring the news agenda, and you can sense the Tory frustration that Labour non-doms are getting virtually nil publicity - but then, they didn't give any undertakings to become permanent UK residents.
Bad though all this is, though, there has been some serious breaching of the once infamous discipline of the Tory Party, and one can't help but wonder whether Cameron's party critics have leaped onto the Ashcroft story to publicise their own discontent with the leader's agenda. Lord Ashcroft is himself a pragmatist rather than an ideologue, and thus no great ally of the party's committed right. The newspapers have been carrying a lot of similar material about a 'division' within the leader's circle, suggesting a bit of co-ordinated spinning from somewhere. The old rottweiler, Norman Tebbit, who to Cameron's eternal regret has discovered the joys of blogging (for the Telegraph), has produced an acid-laden piece about Ashcroft today. Channel 4's obscure lobbyist ("and one time Tory councillor in London" they breathlessly informed us) is another bit of internal Tory sniping. If David Cameron does manage to win election, whatever programme he has in mind, he might also feel he has a few internal scores to settle as well.