Yesterday, multi-millionaire and de-facto Tory boss Lord Ashcroft finally conceded that he is a 'non-dom'- that is to say, he hasn't paid a penny of British tax on his humongous £1.1bn overseas fortune.
His official tax position is that of a "long term resident" as opposed to a "permanent resident", a semantic difference that may have crucially saved him a bob or two.
You're only entitled to be a 'non-dom' if your permanent residence is abroad. But that turns into a joke if at the same time you can both:
a) sit in the House of Lords and have a full say in the country's legislation;
b) become one of the most influential figures in British politics.
No wonder for ten years Lord Ashcroft refused to say whether he pays any tax in the UK.
He became a peer in 2000 on the condition that he'd become a UK resident ("a solemn and binding undertaking", ha ha). From that point on, he literally steamrolled into British politics.
And that's been the case not only through the House of Lords, but also (mainly, in fact) through his immense wealth. Lord Ashcroft is one of the biggest party donors in history, literally turning into the Conservatives' financial steamroller. He became Deputy Party Chairman, donated the Tories at least £5m, ploughed huge amounts into marginal seats and funded David Cameron's 2005 leadership campaign. Tax free, as it now turns out.
The best comment on the whole affair came from LibDem MP Chris Huhne: the Tory Party has been "bought like a Banana Republic". Spot-on.