Of course #Piggate is nonsense, but it exposes weaknesses in Cameron’s Tory party

by Kevin Meagher

Like most people, I didn’t think I would find myself writing about whether or not a young David Cameron inserted his penis into the severed head of a pig in order to join one of those ghastly upper-crust Oxbridge dinin’n’cavortin’ clubs, but, here we are, having a good giggle at his expense.

But behind the head shaking wonderment at how the other half lives lie some interesting revelations about how Cameron deals with people and how he copes in a crisis.

  1. The first is that a Conservative peer and former political editor of the Conservative-supporting Sunday Times (Isabel Oakeshott) are responsible for bringing the grisly revelation to light. Lord Ashcroft, for it is he, is quite open about his “beef” with Cameron for not apparently honouring a promise of a government job after 2010. So is this his elaborate revenge? If so, it doesn’t say much for Cameron’s people management skills that he cannot handle his dealings with the biggest single donor to his party over the last 15 years and, perhaps, that he cannot honour a deal.

    But what of the source for the story? Ashcroft/Oakeshott insist it was a Conservative MP (and assumed contemporary of Cameron) who repeated the tale to them, on several occasions. Cui bono? And why the alacrity in sticking the knife into their own leader?

  1. Then there’s the handling of the revelation itself. Downing Street initially poured cold water on the story, haughtily refusing to “dignify” the allegation with a response. This avoids the follow-up headline: ‘Cam rejects claim he put his penis in a pig’s mouth,’ but it’s also a classic ‘non-denial denial’. It urges us to move along without actually rubbishing the veracity of the tale.

    Indeed, it’s interesting there has been no retinue of Conservative MPs hitting the airwaves to denounce it. (It comes to something when Toby Young is the ‘go to guy’ to offer Downing Street’s off-the-books counter-spin). Perhaps Tory MPs calculate that being on the right side of Michael Ashcroft is better for their long-term prospects than helping out a Prime Minister who will be gone in the next four years?

  1. Then there’s Cameron’s frankly extraordinary intervention himself. After getting his Downing Street press officers to sit atop the moral high ground, he is reported to have made a speech making light of the incident. As PoliticsHome reports:

“The Prime Minister alluded to the furore at a fundraising dinner at the Carlton Club last night [Monday].

He told a story of having visited a doctor earlier in the day to get treatment for a bad back.

The surgeon told the Prime Minister he would give him an injection and said: “This will just be a little prick, just a stab in the back.”

Mr Cameron quipped that it “rather summed up my day”.

Cameron seems to think that by being all post-modern about it he can defuse the matter. All he has done is undermine Downing Street’s original line and hint that the story is true and, by doing so, invite further questioning. Does he fear/ expect further revelations, perhaps even photographic proof of the incident and so doesn’t want to be caught lying? Perhaps we should pre-order copies of this weekend’s Mail on Sunday?

So here we are, with a Prime Minister facing lurid and humiliating revelations, courtesy of one of his own MPs and largest donor, with Downing Street unable to close down the story and a panicked Cameron throwing fuel on the fire.

But are we making too much of it? The way to answer that question is to imagine whether Margaret Thatcher, John Major, Tony Blair or Gordon Brown would ever have faced similar questioning.

Of course they wouldn’t.

Kevin Meagher is associate editor of Uncut

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10 Responses to “Of course #Piggate is nonsense, but it exposes weaknesses in Cameron’s Tory party”

  1. Bradshaw says:

    Hmm, I can imagine ugly rumours about Tony Blair doing something similar…

  2. Richard says:

    All the moderates/modernisers/centerists/Blairites (never sure what to call them as they look for a knew label untainted by events and history) must wioder if Labours chances are going to be boosted in 2020 now that #piggate has hit.
    Part of winning elections is clearly the electability of the policies and leader. However, governments lose elections and events are what really matter. Perhaps this new era of leave Corbyn alone will grow. You never know, they might even give grudging support, other than Blair of course.

  3. David Walker says:

    ‘Of course #Piggate is nonsense…’

    Who knows? There doesn’t seem to be any real evidence though. A clearly bitter Ashcroft claims to have heard somebody mention it.

    ‘But behind the head shaking wonderment at how the other half lives…’

    So, it’s true then?

    ‘…bringing the grisly revelation to light…’

    You certainly sound convinced. Perhaps, you would just very-much like it to be true? You certainly aren’t alone. The entire left-wing media (and much of the right) has pretty-much decided that the incident definitely took place.

    I guess only Cameron’s 11 year-old daughter comes out of this with a great deal of credit, given that she has somehow managed to get through the last 2 days at school.

    Collateral damage, right?

  4. Tafia says:

    Stop trying to make it out as something serious – it isn’t.

    Most people find it hilariously funny. They are disgusted, or annoyed, or revolted, nor have they had their faith in politicians restored (they don’t have any any way).
    Cameron did nothing that anyone would find incredible to believe with rergards a politician of any hue.

    It was just very very funny is all.

  5. Madasafish says:


    A rather basic misunderstanding of PR I suggest.

    If as a politician you sue or deny a story, that ensures the headlines of all papers etc cover the subject in graphic detail for weeks. And suing means it lasts for years.

    If you say nothing, it tends to die a natural death..

    (Not a judgement on the veracity or otherwise of the story..)

  6. Jane says:

    You know quite well that this lurid story was not verified and based on one source. You also know if you follow polls that the public are uninterested in what occurred many years ago when the person was young. You also know quite well that politicians are entitled to a private life before becoming an MP. Further, if you had the resources and Lord Ashcroft did to hire a team of investigators to dig up dirt on a person then many of us would be embarrassed about the antics that we got up to when young. You are of course right that some former PMs would not face the same questioning. They came from different backgrounds. GB – son of the manse, Margaret Thatcher market town. You cannot compare. Firstly they were of a different generation – that matters.

    I am older but do not find the revelations, if true, lurid or humiliating. I think the writers are humiliated as they knwo the public think worse of them for putting in a book one comment without supportive evidence. The sympathy will be with the PM. Your article is therefore out of touch with the public although no doubt will be loved by some. Just like the election – yes. Writing something which offends many who believe in natural justice just to appeal to the few. Oh well…..I should not expect any better.

  7. historyintime says:

    If it was false he would have denied it by now given its ongoing political damage. See Damien McBride in the Guardian. Its serious because it emblematic of an entitled rich kid who is now PM but still with the same views.

  8. If it were untrue, wouldn’t Cameron be threatening to sue? Seems to be something ex-public schoolboys might have done at Oxford. In real life youth would probably be too embarrassed to do something similar. Any ex-public schoolboys wish to comment?

  9. Ex Labour says:

    @ historyintime

    Like everyone takes notice of the lefty loons at the Graurdian

    @ Danny Speight

    You seem to know a lot about public school boys or is it just your lefty confirmation bias ?

  10. I’d be inclined to forgive the pig incident. We’ve probably all had our private parts in places they shouldn’t have been at some time in our lives. Not quite as gross in my case I hasten to add! I can’t help thinking that it was a pity the pig wasn’t still alive though!

    What sickens me more are accounts, from several reliable sources, of burning money in front of homeless people, smashing up restaurants, and paying women to grovel on all fours barking like dogs etc. This displays an utter contempt, on the part of these young members of the ruling class, for those they are being groomed to lead or rule.

    Anyone who has participated in such practices is clearly unfit to govern.

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