In the annals of Tory sleaze few allegations have matched the claim that prime minister David Cameron inserted his penis into the mouth of a dead pig as part of an initiation ceremony at an obscure club in Oxford University.
The claim has sent Fleet Street into paroxysms of joy, confirming most of what people want to believe about the poshness of Call Me Dave – incidentally the title of the biography from which this charge originates – as well as the cloistered perversions of the Oxbridge elite.
Currently being serialised in the Daily Mail, Call Me Dave is the work of Tory peer and pollster Michael Ashcroft and former Sunday Times political editor Isabel Oakeshott. The, er, porking passage in question goes as follows:
“But Cameron went a great deal further. He also got involved in the notorious Oxford dining society, the Piers Gaveston, named after the lover of Edward II, which specialises in bizarre rituals and sexual excess.
“A distinguished Oxford contemporary claims Cameron once took part in an outrageous initiation ceremony at a Piers Gaveston event, involving a dead pig. His extraordinary suggestion is that the future PM inserted a private part of his anatomy into the animal’s mouth.
“The source — himself an MP — first made the allegation out of the blue at a business dinner in June 2014. Lowering his voice, he claimed to have seen photographic evidence of this disgusting ritual.”
Some months later this same MP is said to have provided the name of the photograph’s owner and the picture’s dimensions, as well as adding that the pig’s head had been in the lap of a Piers Gaveston member at the time. Ashcroft and Oakeshott approached the owner of the photo for confirmation, without success.
That appears to be the sum of the evidence in the public domain that Cameron may have giving the swine a taste of his wiener. Speaking to Channel 4, Oakeshott distances herself from the claim by saying it was not reported as a confirmed fact, but merely as an allegation that readers could take or leave.
By any standard this is a dodge from Oakeshott, who knows her pedigree and the claimed credibility of her source, as well as the reverse snobbery among much of the public, would lead many to conclude that it was more likely true than not.
More convincing is Oakeshott’s defence that the tale is but a few paragraphs in a 200,000 word book, though it is hard to believe that she did not anticipate the story sparking headlines in Fleet Street when it was included in the Daily Mail extract.
Cameron’s confirmed membership of the Bullingdon Club, an Oxford society for the posh once frequented by London mayor Boris Johnson and chancellor George Osborne, does support the idea he might have been part of Piers Gaveston, as does the fact that as a distant relative of the Windsors Cameron is certainly privileged enough to be a candidate for such societies.
Lurid stories of university club initiations have also regularly appeared in the press over the last few years, some involving intense drinking, odd sexual practices or the playing of a game of rugby in Edinburgh with a live chicken used in place of a ball. Molesting dead swine is therefore not that farfetched as an entry requirement.
Despite this the allegation that Ashcroft is publishing this after he was snubbed by the offer of a lowly position in Cameron’s government has damaged the credibility of the claims. In an extract from the book, Ashcroft wrote:
“After putting my neck on the line for nearly 10 years – both as party treasurer under [former Tory leader] William Hague and as deputy chairman – and after ploughing some £8m into the party, I regarded this as a declinable offer. It would have been better had Cameron offered me nothing at all.”
Without a second photograph or a second source – unlikely, given the secretive nature of such clubs – it will also be hard to confirm the piggate story. Whether it even matters, given the fact most prime ministers have probably done stupid, obscene things throughout (and after) their youths should be enough to bore Fleet Street before too long.
Image Credit – Pig, August 2008 by Nick Saltmarsh