British Tory neo-colonialism in Belize

This video from Belize says about itself:

Belizeans take to the streets to protest against Lord Michael Ashcroft’s Belize Bank Ltd. over $20M diverted from the public treasury to pay off a private loan that had been secretly guaranteed by Belize’s former prime minister, Said Musa.

From British daily The Independent:

Paradise in Belize turns sour for Ashcroft

New Prime Minister fires vicious salvo at Conservative Party‘s biggest donor

By Nick Clark and Andy McSmith

Friday, 28 August 2009

Dean Barrow, the Prime Minister of Belize, has accused Michael Ashcroft of subjecting the island to ‘new age slavery

Michael Ashcroft, the Tory peer and donor who is masterminding a key part of David Cameron‘s election strategy, has been denounced in his adopted homeland of Belize for using his money to “subjugate an entire nation”.

In an extraordinary attack, the Prime Minister of Belize accused Lord Ashcroft of being “predatory” and implied that he had subjected the former colony to “new age slavery”.

“There will be no more suffering of this one man’s campaign to subjugate an entire nation to his will,” said Dean Barrow in a specially convened parliamentary debate called to renationalise the country’s main telephone company, which was formerly owned by Mr Ashcroft.

The ferocity of the attack suggests that the Belize government is out to break Lord Ashcroft’s influence in the country, which could lead to more attacks and embroil the Conservative vice-chairman in a series of controversies most unwelcome to Mr Cameron.

Mr Ashcroft’s political links in Belize are with the People’s United Party (PUP), which lost control in an election last year to Mr Barrow’s United Democratic Party (UDP).

Lord Ashcroft founded his fortune in Belize, where his father was posted by the Foreign Office in the 1950s, and where his huge business empire formerly included almost the entire telecommunications network. He now devotes much of his time to his role as deputy chairman of the Conservative Party, and has a permanent office and staff at Tory campaign headquarters, though on his website he says: “If home is where the heart is, then my home is in Belize.”

Yesterday, the Belize government seized control of Telemedia in a Bill rushed through Parliament, in the hope of ending a protracted legal dispute fought in law courts in Belize, the UK, the United States and Canada.

Mr Barrow, a 58-year-old lawyer and Belize’s first black Prime Minister, introduced the Bill in an emotive speech which represented it as an attempt by a small nation to liberate itself from the overbearing influence of a billionaire.

“Lord Michael Ashcroft is an extremely powerful man. His net worth may well be equal to Belize’s entire GDP. He is nobody to cross,” he warned Belize’s Parliament.

But he added: “This is our House, this is our country. Here we are masters, here we are sovereign. And with the full weight of that sovereignty we must now put an end to this disrespect, to this chance taking, to new age slavery.

“There will thus be no more Telemedia awards against us; no more Telemedia court battles; no more debilitating waste of government’s energies and resources.”

MPs demand fresh scrutiny of Lord Ashcroft: here.

Tory chairman suggests Lord Ashcroft would go on air to clarify tax status: here.

Major Tory donor Lord Ashcroft has put an end to a decade of speculation about his tax status confirming that he was a “non-dom”: here.

Aid money used as ‘payback’ for Tory donor Lord Ashcroft, Labour claims: here.

9 thoughts on “British Tory neo-colonialism in Belize

  1. Britain inks tax deal with Belize

    Tax: Britain formally signed a deal with Belize on Thursday designed to crack down on tax avoidance.

    Chancellor Alistair Darling’s announcement of the agreement in his Budget statement on Thursday drew cheers and laughter from Labour backbenchers.

    Tory deputy chairman and tax dodger Lord Ashcroft has been under fire over his close links to the former colony.


  2. Panorama pulled on eve of showing

    Media: The BBC announced on Tuesday that it had pulled a Panorama programme about controversial Tory backer Lord Ashcroft’s financial affairs just hours before broadcast.

    The show – meant to have gone out on Monday – was withdrawn after producers received a response to a question about a share interest transfer.

    The BBC claimed the answer “shed new light” on the issue and it would be reviewing the programme.


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