Ashcroft swoops on PoliticsHome and the ‘liberals’ begin resigning…

Two big money men sit behind a huge chunk of Tory online real estate… Michael Lord Ashcroft and Stephan Shakespeare.. both committed Tories and both quite loaded… Stephan subbed Iain Dale’s Doughty Street TV project, and then pulled the plug to put his cash into Tim Montgomery’s worthy online venture… Conservative Home… Iain then moved on to the Ashcroft funded Total Politics magazine, which has since carved out a useful niche for itself… Now Ashcroft (by far the richer of the two men) has moved an infinitesimally small proportion of his many millions (£1.3 to be precise) into ConservativeHome and the previously unaligned PoliticsHome, causing the editor-in-chief there Andrew Rawnsley to jump and a whole slew of liberals and lefties to follow him

If Ashcroft had wanted to wipe them off Politics Home’s commodious shelf, he could not have done it better himself… Over at Liberal Conspiracy, there is some talk of both men looking to make money out of this new venture… But it seems to me that whatever the longer term plans of either men regarding monetising the Internet, winning the next election for the Conservatives is what is uppermost in Lord Ashcroft’s mind (he’s a one man Tory equivalent of that money raising and power broking netroots revolution that swept Obama to power last year)… Andrew Rawnsley seems in little doubt about what’s in Ashcroft’s mind:

I became Editor-in-Chief on the basis that PoliticsHome was dedicated to being a non-partisan site clearly independent of any party both editorially and financially. It was essential for users of the site that they could feel absolute confidence in the political independence of PoliticsHome. I do not believe that can be compatible with being under the ownership of the deputy chairman of the Conservative Party.

Most of the hard news here was brought to you by the Liberal Conspiracy blog, which, incidently, does not appear in Total Politics’ top fifty UK political blogs…

Adds: Just read Iain’s post as I was closing… he says it is gesture politics of the worst kind… Certainly, I can’t quite see what Denis McShane’s so upset about if he’s still sitting on Ashcroft’s board at TP…

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty