Underscoring the antipathy between the Tories and their former deputy chairman, Lord Ashcroft has taken to the pages of ConservativeHome — which he owns — to issue an extraordinary attack on David Cameron’s attempts to block a book he is writing.
The now former peer contrasts the access given to biographer Anthony Seldon to that afforded him and his co-author Isabel Oakeshott. Seldon’s rival biography is apparently being rushed out in the Summer to avoid a clash:
“Cameron is suspicious. It is no secret that he dislikes the prospect of what he dismissively labels “the Ashcroft book”. We have tried, and failed, to persuade him to talk. While Seldon has had full co-operation from Number 10 (I am told “everybody” – from Ed Llewellyn, Cameron’s chief of staff, down – has been encouraged to make time for the historian) the Prime Minister has shut the doors to us.
“Some individuals who were willing to talk to us in principle but wanted Downing Street’s blessing were repeatedly stonewalled. Cameron’s strategy appears to be: put up the shutters, then rubbish the book on the basis that we have had no access.
But perhaps Cameron’s stance is unsurprising — given that (£) Ashcroft has taken to entertaining Tory dinner guests by recounting his focus groups’ criticism of the Tory leader, and describing his book as an ‘obituary’.
While the tome “won’t be published until the Autumn” this may be a hollow assurance to Tories who are planning on being left standing after the general election.
Autumn begins on 23 September.
Tory conference kicks off on 4 October.