Oakeshott: Cameron pledged to ‘trash’ piggate biography ‘whatever it said’

Pig's Head, January 2009 by Chareze Stamatelaky

However true the claim that prime minister David Cameron stuck his cock inside the gob of a dead pig, it has certainly defined the reception of Call Me Dave, the biography which publicised the rumour.

Yet Isabel Oakeshott, the former Sunday Times hack who co-wrote the book with Tory peer Michael Ashcroft, believes that the Conservative leader would have panned the book “whatever it said.”

Speaking at the book launch on Monday night, which Ashcroft could not attend due to health problems, Oakeshott said that she had discussed the book with DVD Dave prior to its being written:

“[Cameron] went on to say – quite politely – that he wouldn’t cooperate with our book and furthermore, he would trash it whatever it said. So I brush this off but it did show what we were up against and he did exactly what he said he would do and I must say I don’t really blame him, this is politics.”

Earlier in the evening Oakeshott also claimed that Cameron dismissed an earlier biography about him by journalists Francis Elliott and James Hanning, Cameron: Practically a Conservative:

“I asked Cameron that time if he liked the book. His reply was — and I’m sorry for the language but these were the exact words — ‘No, it’s a piece of shit.’ And that was a book that he had asked everyone around him to cooperate with.”

At the event it was revealed that Ashcroft had been diagnosed with septic shock and suffered multiple organ failure, as revealed by this video that some in the audience were said to have initially taken for a spoof.

Whilst the condition was life-threatening, Ashcroft is said to be recovering.

Despite the rather sycophantic end to the news report, the Tory peer’s influence in the country where he spent some of his earlier years has not always been popular among Belizeans.

Image Credit – Pig’s Head, January 2009 by Chareze Stamatelaky

Isabel Oakeshott: I could have slipped piggate into the Sunday Times

Election UK, April 2010 by Alex Brown

Isabel Oakeshott, the co-author of the Call Me Dave biography of David Cameron that broke the infamous piggate story, has claimed she could have smuggled it into a Sunday Times diary so long as it was shrouded in euphemism.

Speaking at the Cheltenham Literature Festival, the former political editor rebuffed claims that nobody on Fleet Street would have let her run the story with only one source, saying:

“Would I have got that story into The Sunday Times? Well, I reckon it probably could have been a diary story, expressed much more euphemistically.”

However, given how the original claim was phrased by Oakeshott and her fellow biographer Ashcroft it is hard to see how it could have been more delicately phrased:

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.”

Her suggestion that books require lower standards of proof than newspapers is also somewhat dubious, and given her experience as a journalist she must have known that Fleet Street would grab hold of the tale and run with it. She said:

“I think [the question about burden of proof] rests on a really false premise, which is that things that are written in books need to have the same standard — if you like to use that word — as things that are written in newspapers.”

She did, however, stand by her source, a Tory MP and Oxford University contemporary of Cameron:

“It’s my judgment that the MP was not making it up, although I accept there was a possibility he could have been slightly deranged.”

Oakeshott went on to say that she did not consider the claim an “allegation”, which may say something about her own, er, habits or the low expectations we have of politicians:

“In no way did we conceive of it as any kind of allegation against Cameron. I, frankly, don’t care what he did when he was drunk in university dining societies.”

This story was originally reported in the Sun.

Image Credit – Election UK, April 2010 by Alex Brown

Podcast (Ep. 16): Piggate scandal, Pope Francis in America and Matt Damonsplaining

Pope Francis speaks to John Boehner, September 2015 by DonkeyHotey

A mere day before the official denial from David Cameron, Jimmy and John sat down to discuss piggate, Jazza being away in some foreign clime having better things to do than natter about politics.

Elsewhere we talked Pope Francis in America, what it means for the Republican party and whether Catholicism is still relevant any more.

…and finally, we continue to bang on about Matt Damon and the phenomenon of Damonsplaining, based on articles focusing on the creative and political sides of the debate around diversity in Hollywood.

Image Credit – Pope Francis speaks to John Boehner, September 2015 by DonkeyHotey

Is David Cameron really too busy to sue Michael Ashcroft over piggate?

David Cameron portrait, July 2010 via Thierry Ehrmann

After a week of pretending to ignore the claim that he once stuck his penis into the mouth of a dead pig, prime minister David Cameron finally went on the record on what he euphemised as “the specific issue raised” in an upcoming biography about him:

“Everyone can see why the book was written and everyone can see straight through it. As for the specific issue raised, a very specific denial was made a week ago and I’ve nothing to add to that.”

In fact no public denial was ever made, though various Conservative ministers dismissed the allegations and comments leaked from Downing Street shrugging off the alleged lewd act, which comes from Call Me Dave, written by Tory peer Michael Ashcroft and former Sunday Times political editor Isabel Oakeshott.

As to “why the book was written”, Cameron is referring to the allegation that Ashcroft’s biography is a hatchet job intended to damage the prime minister after the Tory peer was denied a significant role in the Cameron ministry.

In a further interview with Sky News, Cameron also said he would not be taking legal action against Ashcroft, claiming that he “too busy running the country”:

“If you do a job like this, you do get people who have agendas and write books and write articles and write all sorts of things. The most important thing is not to let it bother you and get on with the job.”

Politicians tend to be resistant to launching libel suits, which challenge slurs on someone’s reputation, owing to the adverse publicity they can generate through days and even weeks in court which can be extensively covered by the press.

Also of interest is a video on the same page in which Sky News journalists unconvincingly explain why they didn’t cover the piggate allegations in depth for fear of being sued – an unlikely scenario given how thoroughly the claims were covered throughout Fleet Street, and even on the famously timid BBC.

This explanation from Rupert Murdoch’s broadcaster is doubly dubious owing to the loosening of libel law in the Defamation Act 2013, which means that complainants will have to prove “serious harm” in order to win the suit.

A YouGov poll from last week proved that more than half of the British public did not think the allegations of piggate and drug-taking by Cameron were important, though dishearteningly for the prime minister two-thirds thought they were true.

Image Credit – David Cameron portrait, July 2010 via Thierry Ehrmann