Nick Clegg celebrates the Eastleigh byelection result
For well over a year, the Liberal Democrats have told supporters, commentators and their own MPs that they will fare better than their national poll ratings suggests.
At next year’s election, argue Nick Clegg’s strategists, the party will do well in areas they already have MPs, particularly given most of them are Tory-Lib Dem marginals, where the coalition of voters they have forged will stay with them for fear of letting the Tories in. This will let them retain about 40 of their 57 seats, think those at the top of the party, allowing for heavy losses to Labour in the north.
Of 35 pages of documents released today, the most striking ones appear to be two letters sent on July 12, 2000.
(Bear in mind that Lord Ashcroft recently revealed he was a “long-term resident” in the UK – as opposed to “permanent” – which means he doesn’t have to pay UK tax on his overseas income. )
Letter One: Sir Hayden Phillips wrote to James Arbuthnot, Tory chief whip, saying: “Mr Ashcroft has said that he will live in the UK indefinitely and will, therefore, be a long-term resident here.”
Letter Two: In Arbuthnot’s reply he refers to: “Michael Ashcroft’s undertaking to take up permanent residence in the UK.”