Andrew Rawnsley Quits PoliticsHome As It Is Sold To Lord Ashcroft

By Stephen Brook: The Observer associate editor, Andrew Rawnsley, today resigned as editor-in-chief of after the website was sold to Lord Ashcroft, the deputy chairman of the Conservative party.
Rawnsley said that the politics website’s non-partisan policy was incompatible with being owned by Ashcroft.
“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,” said Rawnsley, who is associate editor and chief political commentator of the Observer.
“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.”
“I therefore greatly regret the decision made by Stephan Shakespeare, the chairman, to do a deal which places PoliticsHome under the ownership of Michael Ashcroft, the deputy chairman of the Conservative party. The site has been folded along with ConservativeHome into a new entity in which Lord Ashcroft is the majority shareholder.”
Rawnsley added that the PoliticsHome had been an “outstanding editorial success”. “The site has attracted plaudits from many other media organisations and across the political spectrum. That praise has been generated by its ground-breaking methods of surveying opinion at Westminster, Whitehall and beyond along with its impartial reporting of all strands of news and commentary,” he said.
Ashcroft, who owns a stake in Total Politics, the magazine run by Iain Dale, and Shakespeare have formed a new company and PoliticsHome will become a unit in it.
Shakespeare and Ashcroft will take a 57.5 percent stake in the new company and Shakespeare will be its chairman. Rawnsley, who had a financial interest in PoliticsHome, will exit the company.
PoliticsHome said it had “secured additional investment” to expand its coverage of political news and that there would be “no editorial crossover whatsoever” with ConservativeHome and ConservativeIntelligence.
“PH will of course remain strictly non-partisan in all aspects of its coverage, and readers can continue to have absolute confidence in its editorial independence. This will be obvious in the weeks and months and years ahead,” Shakespeare said.
Shakespeare, co-founder of the pollsters YouGov, and commentator Freddie Sayers set up PoliticsHome in April 2008, aiming to make it the definitive source of political news and research.
Last week Ashcroft also bought a stake in Tim Montgomerie’s ConservativeHome blog.
“I have been given solid assurances by Michael that he does not wish to interfere with ConservativeHome’s editorial policy in any way. I am completely satisfied with those assurances and am delighted that such a major figure in the Conservative party is willing to invest in the future of this website,” Montgomerie said.
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