From Pegasus to Kauto Star via Trigger, horses have always had a mythological hold on our imagination. Now, to that long line of equine nobility must be added the name of Raisa, the sturdy bay, former police horse who, from the grave, has become a central figure in the most colourful political story of the moment.
Predictably, the affair that involves Raisa, the Prime Minister, the Metropolitan Police and the disgraced former head of News International has been reported as "Horsegate", but the question of whether the PM actually rode Raisa was surely less of a gate, more of a stile. The lending of a police horse to the editor of The Sun (as Rebekah Brooks was then) is further evidence of a close, and unseemly, relationship between the Met and NI. We already know David Cameron and Ms Brooks are always popping over to each other's houses in Oxfordshire to borrow a cup of Fair Trade sugar. Were we aware Mr Cameron was a keen horseman? I don't believe so. He said last week "it was a matter of record" that he went riding with Ms Brooks' husband, a former racehorse trainer who is referred to as "an old school friend" of the PM. I am not so sure about this being public knowledge. In all the profiles of Mr Cameron, I don't recall it ever being mentioned that he liked riding horses. It may just be that he was trying to keep it quiet. If you're trying to present a picture of yourself as someone who, despite an Eton education, is a one-nation politician, it's best not to cough up to horseriding as a leisure pursuit. Even in these supposedly egalitarian times, it's still seen as shorthand for toff. (Remember that picture of RBS boss Stephen Hester, astride a horse, in full hunting regalia, the very epitome of elitism? Nothing could have been more damaging for his public image. Which is why, of course, newspapers never tire of reprinting it.)
Anyway, back to old Raisa, who, after spending much of his career herding Millwall fans, found herself in a field near Chipping Norton, unaware she was to become enmeshed in such a tangled web. But given what we know, is it really a scandal that the PM got a leg up (I believe that's the expression) on Raisa? I can't be alone in not giving a hoot. Obviously, Downing Street should have come clean straight away (and Jeremy Clarkson should probably not have got on his own high horse) – as ever, it's the cover-up not the original sin which causes the trouble. No, the real scandal is that we have a PM who was prepared to compromise his integrity by cosying up to Britain's most powerful media group, that the Met Police were happy to do the same, exchanging tips, favours and horses and that this very same media group exercised that power in a way that was anti-competitive and anti-democratic. Let Raisa rest in peace.
That's what this story is, and always has been, about.Reuse content