Lord Michael Ashcroft made his début on Forbes' Rich List this year (Reuters)
Lord Ashcroft made his début on Forbes' Rich List this year (Reuters)

A senior conservative has urged ministers to "turn off the golden taps" of foreign aid and stop pandering to "St Bob and Bono".

Lord Michael Ashcroft, who Forbes magazine claim to be the 34th richest man in Britain, has written an open letter to the new international development secretary Justine Greening urging her to a stop "spray[ing] around taxpayers' money like former Labour leaders Tony Blair and Gordon Brown".

Ashcroft, who was recently made a government adviser in the coalition reshuffle, recommended that Prime Minister David Cameron needed to stop "flooding the developing world with our money" and "currying favour with Guardian-type readers".

The letter, published on the ConservativeHome blog, said: "At a time when libraries are being closed and people with disabilities face benefit cuts, there is growing fury over giving away ever-increasing sums to foreigners.

"Despite the downturn, your department's budget is the only one still soaring, set to grow 50 percent during the term of the coalition from £7.8bn in 2010 to £11.5bn by 2015.

"Many Conservatives are horrified by this. They think it morally wrong to carry on giving away such vast sums abroad - more than £300 per household - at a time of domestic spending cuts.

Aid approach flawed

"Others argue it is politically insane to modernise by currying favour with Guardian-type readers that looks out of touch in current circumstances.

"It is clear Britain's approach to aid is flawed and self-defeating. So I urge you to recommend to the prime minister to turn off the golden taps and stop flooding the developing world with our money.

"Our current policies are politically nonsensical. If aid worked, I would endorse the government's attempts to cosy up to St Bob and Bono."

Ashcroft added that Greening should ignore objections from charities, suggesting how some were reliant on taxpayer's money.

He gave Oxfam as an example, which had saw funding from the Department for International Development (Dfid) rise by nearly £8m to £27m last year.

Ashcroft added: "For too long Dfid has acted like a non-governmental organisation itself rather than a wing of government.

"I hate to say this to you but there is a strong case it should be folded back within the Foreign Office, as it was before 1997."

Before signing off his letter to Greening with two kisses, Ashcroft said: "The last Labour government proved that spending more and more money does not solve all our problems; indeed, it often makes them worse.

"The coalition has accepted this at home; now please accept it abroad. Stop pandering to the aid lobby, stop parading as modern-day saviours of developing nations, and step into the modern world.

"Otherwise you do both Britain and the nations you claim to be helping a gross disservice. It might even be a politically popular move by the government, an all-too-rare event these days."