It's Lord Ashcroft who should be embarrassed - he's exposed the system in which he has thrived

His book illuminates the uncomfortable reality of how millionaires can use donations to try and persuade politicians to give them power and influence

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The Independent Online

Penned by Isabel Oakeshott of the Sunday Times alongside Lord Ashcroft, Call Me Dave doesn’t quite live up to the hype. Aside from a few embarrassing allegations about Cameron’s rebellious days as a member of Oxford University’s infamous Bullington Club, the extracts released from the book so far fail to deliver the promised massacre of his character.

Don’t get me wrong, the explosion of internet memes surrounding the claim about Cameron’s and a pig’s head have made me laugh as much as the next person. And, like many, I’ve lapped up stories about Cameron’s supposedly debaucherous youth before: he was a member of the elite drinking club the Bullingdon Club while at Oxford University, which the Daily Mirror claimed in 2013 had an “initiation ceremony” wherein the newest member burned a £50 note in front of a homeless person. After hearing that, who wouldn't be hooked on further allegations about what might have happened behind Oxbridge-based secret societies’ closed doors?

Still, the real story exposed by this book is more shameful than its contents, illuminating the uncomfortable reality of how millionaires can use donations to try and persuade politicians to give them power and influence. Even if Cameron really did stick his genitals into the head of a dead pig, I’m inclined to find that idea more distasteful.

Let’s not forget the backstory to the man who wrote this scandalous biography. Unsatisfied with his seat in the House of Lords, Lord Ashcroft’s  fundraising abilities and financial leverage helped him to become Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party in 2005: an extremely powerful position. Despite a press storm surrounding his non-dom tax status, it appears Ashcroft expected to continue in this position after the 2010 General Election. But in reality, when Cameron finally made it into Downing Street, he was left waiting by the phone.

A couple of weeks later, it is claimed, Cameron explained that Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg had strongly objected to his appointment, although Clegg has since denied this. Subsequently, Ashcroft was offered a position as a junior whip in the Foreign Office, an offer which after “ploughing some £8 million into the party”, he regarded as “declinable”.

 

Although the mental image of Cameron and a pig’s head will haunt most of us forever, the book paints Ashcroft as nothing but a vengeful brat. It appears that some people never grow out of throwing their toys out of the pram - they just get bigger toys.

Ashcroft has denied writing his biography for “revenge”, but it’s hard not to believe that his self-confessed ‘beef’ with Cameron didn’t lurk in the background as he put pen to paper. This should anger anyone who believes in democracy. The scenario whereby you write a large cheque because you could end up rewarded with a position of influence is precisely what is wrong with the current system. Power should never be sold and decision-makers should always be elected - it really is that simple.

Personally, I am not a fan of David Cameron’s politics. I don’t vote Conservative and I can't imagine a situation where I would. Still, those of us who would like to see our politicians being influenced by the electorate instead of wealthy donors with far too much money should take a stand against this scandalous book. Once #Piggate blows over, it is Ashcroft who should feel embarrassed, for it’s not Cameron who he’s ended up exposing – it’s the system itself.

 

 

 

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