with additional update on Wednesday 23 September 2015
The papers and social media were having a field-day today after billionaire Tory donor Lord Ashcroft made remarkable claims about Cameron’s past – including that he had inserted his penis into a dead pig’s mouth as part of a bizarre initiation ritual.
The claim was made in Lord Ashcroft’s biography of Prime Minister called Call Me Dave. He said that Cameron performed the sexual act as part of the initiation into the Oxford dining club Piers Gaveston. Ashcroft claims the story originates from “a distinguished Oxford contemporary” of Cameron who had seen a photograph of the incident, which he called a “disgusting ritual.” The source, who is a MP, has made the allegations before and claims to know the name of the individual whohas the photograph in his keeping. Ashcroft was unable to confirm the story with the owner of the photograph but suggests that it is “an elaborate story for an otherwise credible figure to invent.”
Other claims in Lord Ashcroft’s book include one that says Cameron was a womaniser – that he would spend evenings seeking female company – something Cameron called “wooding.” Of Cameron’s alleged womanising in his Oxford days, Ashcroft said: “I was quite jealous. Most people were I imagine. I think he slept with all the good-looking girls from college.” Ashcroft also alleges that Cameron was possibly taking cocaine. He followed up claims of drug taking by the future Prime Minister made by the journalist James Delingpole – who was an Oxford contemporary of Cameron. However, Ashcroft was unable to find any hard evidence to substantiate his susipicions, but nevertheless repeated the accusations.
Ashcroft claims that Cameron’s more “liberal” view of illicit drugs as a young MP stems from personal experience. The Lord alleges that a close relative of the Prime Minister was addicted to a class-A drug when Cameron was a young MP. He alleges that the partner of the relation acted as a drugs mule and collapsed and died in Argentina, at an airport, when “bags of narcotic burst” in their stomach.
Cameron’s liberal views on drugs were expressed when earlier in his Parliamentary career he was a member on the Home Affairs Select Committee. But since then he has toughened his stance. When a more recent Home Office report suggested relaxing the law, Cameron rejected the findings outright.
The Prime Minister’s spokeswoman said of Ashcroft’s pig claims: “I’m not intending to dignify this book by offering any comment or any PM reaction to it.” Sources close to the PM also dismissed the ideas, saying they “did not recognise” the pig and drug accusations – but why would they know anything of it if it were true?
More potentially politically damaging allegations were also made by Ashcroft – that the Prime Minister knew of his non-dom tax status a full year before the Prime Minister claimed he first heard of his status. Ashcroft said he discussed the issue with the PM in 2009 and that the PM misled the public on the subject before the 2010 General Election.
Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow minister without portfolio, said there was a “serious question mark over the consistency of the Prime Minister’s statements.” He called for the PM to “immediately clarify” when he knew of Lord Ashcroft’s tax status. Meanwhile, the Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the claims “perhaps shouldn’t just be allowed to disappear into the ether.”
David Cameron’s direct silence on the pig story seems to suggest either that it is untrue or demonstrates his confidence that any photo of the pig incident is either destroyed or in the hands of someone Cameron trusts or has influence over. Doubts also emerge over the veracity of Ashcroft’s allegations when you look at his “motive” for writing the book – co-written with journalist Isabel Oakeshott.
After donating millions to the Tory Party, Ashcroft expected to be rewarded with a significant position in Cameron’s Cabinet when he became Prime Minister in the Conservative-led Coaliton in 2010. However, he was only offered a junior post – which he rejected. This led to a dramatic falling out with the Prime Minister. Ashcroft admitted that this was partly his reason for writing the book. He says that he was promised a major role, only for Cameon to phone him after the 2010 election to apologise and tell him that Nick Clegg – the leader of the Liberal Democrats, the junior party in the Coalition – had blocked his appointment.
Ashcroft’s assumption that he would be qualified for, or would merit, a position in the Cabinet simply because of his financial contributions is outrageous. It is sadly a symbol of the corruption and moral ambiguity of many modern-day politicians.
As for the pig story. I don’t know if Ashcroft is telling porkies about the Prime Minister porking a porker. However, if Cameron was a member of the Piers Gaveston club then it would be hard to believe he didn’t take part in the club’s notorious debauchery. He was a member of the Bullingdon Club, also notorious for its behaviour, so it is not a huge leap to accept that Cameron would join the Piers Gaveston. Photos of the group in the 1980s show members including Nigella Lawson, Hugh Grant and Nat Rothschild. They are shown in bizarre costumes looking distinctly worse for wear.
The club largely concentrates on organising an end-of-year party where a select group of posh twats are invited. According to a recent member of the group, the party is drug-fuelled but nowhere near as bad as some people make out. He told the I newspaper: “They pick you up in a minibus, confiscate your mobile phones to avoid pictures being taken and drive you out into someone’s countryside for a massive party. Everyone gets smashed and a lot of people hook up. Everyone knows drugs are very easy to find, including hard drugs. Sometimes you’ll see people having sex in public.” A different member of the club said: “there was some sexual debauchery at a Piers Gav party, a pig was around and people have added two and two to get five.” These two people, however, are recent members of the club so it is possible their memories of the activities of the club do not reflect the behaviour of its members twenty or more years ago when Cameron was supposed to have been a member.
Whether the allegations are true or not the discomfort they are causing the Prime Minister and Government is very real. Social media has been ablaze with pig-related jokes and mockery of the Prime Minister. The claims of debauchery and lurid sexual acts with pigs are disturbing enough and, if true, would demonstrate his extreme poor judgement, lax morals and simple idiocy in his younger days.
The claims regarding Ashcroft’s tax status are much more serious. If true they show Cameron was lying before the 2010 General Election as to when he found out about the Tory donor’s tax status. The issue of tax avoidance was a big issue in the 2010 General Election campaign and Ashcroft’s avoidance of tax through his non-dom status was a symbol of the anger and frustration amongst the public on the issues of tax avoidance – both legal and illegal.
UPDATE: Wednesday 23 September 2015
The feud between Lord Ashcroft and the Prime Minister continued today when David Cameron cracked a “joke” at a Conservative dinner. He told his fellow diners that: “while having treatment for a minor back injury, his doctor warned him he would need an injection involving ‘just a little prick, just a stab in the back’,” according to the BBC reporter James Lansdale.
Lord Ashcroft replied on Twitter: “Good to see the PM retains his sense of humour. We must have the same doctor. I had the same in 2010 when the PM emerged.”
More accusations about Cameron have emeged in the serialisation of the book Call Me Dave by Lord Ashcroft and Isobel Oakeshott in the Daily Mail. One allegation claims he intervened in legal action against a friend who, in 2008, was being prosecuted for taking part in an illegal fox hunt. The case against him was eventually dropped on a technicality.
According to the Daily Mail, the former Tory chairman Michael Ancram has criticised Cameron over Libyia, saying that Libyia was the Prime Minister’s Iraq and that the country is more unstable now than under Colonel Gaddafi. The ex-Defence Minister Nicholas Soames has also accused the Prime Minister of “stripping (the Royal Navy) down to nothing.”
David Cameron continues to remain silent, publicly, on the allegations in Lord Ashcroft’s book.
Related comment by Simon Kelner in The Independent: “Lord Ashcroft has unwittingly shone a light on the corrupt heart of politics” at http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/lord-ashcroft-has-unwittingly-shone-a-light-on-the-corrupt-heart-of-politics-10515930.html