Those of our sources who are acquainted with Lord Ashcroft fully expected him to fly into Belize for Sir Barry Bowen’s funeral a couple weeks ago. Such a huge event would have been an opportunity for the Lord to “show himself,” so to speak. But Mr. Ashcroft has been very quiet and very much under the radar for some while now. His problem is in Great Britain, where things political have been unraveling for the Lord. One of the reasons things political have been unraveling in Britain for the Lord is because of the Internet and because of Belize, two of the same instruments through which he has enriched himself.
Great Britain used to be a long, long way from Belize. I remember when my dad went to take a course in postal matters in London in the late 1950s. He first had to fly to New York City, then take the Queen Elizabeth across the Atlantic. The liner would take three days from New York to Plymouth. Two decades later came the supersonic jetliner called Concorde, which would make the trip in six or seven hours across the Atlantic. But the Concorde was too expensive, and I believe it has been shelved.
Today, because of modern telecommunications and the Internet, London and Belize City are just seconds and minutes apart from each other where information is concerned. Information about Lord Ashcroft’s doings has been feeding back into Britain from Belize, and the great benefactor of the Conservative Party has now become a large political liability for the Tories. Just months ago, the Conservatives were enjoying a lead of twenty percentage points in the polls over Gordon Brown’s Labour, but now the race has become very close, almost even in fact. The issue that got Labour back into the running was Lord Ashcroft.
One of the secrets to Lord Ashcroft’s rise to riches is that he does not pay taxes. His empire is all about lawyers and accountants who find ways for him to avoid the taxes which he should be paying. Yes, the Lord is a self-made billionaire, and yes, we have to give him respect for that. But you have to understand something about the British people. They don’t like cheats. The British have a national sense of honor, despite Sir John Falstaff’s famous words. Labour has succeeded in making Ashcroft look like a tax cheat, and the result is that all the marginal constituencies where Ashcroft’s money had been pushing Conservative candidates over the top, have seen a Labour surge. The issue, to repeat, has become Lord Michael Ashcroft.
There’s stuff that’s happened in the Turks and Caicos Islands which is showing the Lord in an unfavorable light, but the issues involving him in Belize are far bigger, and those issues in Belize have been raging for years now. They include the cruel rates at BTL when he ran it as a monopoly, the “accommodation agreements” with the Musa government, and the tax hostilities between Ashcroft and the new Barrow administration which provoked the Prime Minister into nationalizing BTL in August of last year.
You know, it’s taken me a while, but I think I’ve figured out Chichester’s psyche where Belize is concerned. He came here as a little boy when his father, a British civil servant, was posted to British Honduras. This would have been the late 1950s or so. I believe Lord Ashcroft attended St. Catherine’s Elementary for the couple years he was in British Honduras.
Michael Ashcroft was an absolute nobody in Belize when he was a child. In those days, St. Catherine’s Elementary was really, really elitist. The thing is, there’s a price you pay for elitism. Students in the mainstream schools like St. Mary’s, Holy Redeemer, and Wesley totally ignored St. Catherine’s Elementary. St. Catherine’s Elementary did not produce any athletes, any musicians, or any entertainers. Who were these people? It was as if they didn’t even exist. So that, when Michael Ashcroft returned to Belize with all his money in 1985, this was a man who wanted to “show himself.” Baby, look at me now!
Showing himself in Belize could well cost Chichester the elections in Britain, which will be called in the next few weeks. Lord Ashcroft has behaved like a bully in Belize, and the news doesn’t take months to travel from Belize to Britain any more. In the global village, it’s just seconds and minutes. Lord Ashcroft is looking like a “wannabe” in Britain. His behaviour in Belize has lacked class, and his own people found out about it across the Atlantic. The British do not care for cads. Watch, and you will see.