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.
David Cameron's biggest controversies
David Cameron's biggest controversies
A book released by Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft alleged that an MP and Oxford contemporary of David Cameron had allegedly seen a photograph of Mr Cameron performing a sex act on a pig while at university. Downing Street did not comment on the allegations and the peer said they could have been a case of mistaken identity
David Hartley/REX Shutterstock
2/8 ‘Swarm’ of migrants
In July 2015 David Cameron referred to refugees coming into Europe from the Middle East and North Africa as a “swarm”. He was criticised for using the language, which critics said was dehumanising
3/8 Child tax credits
In April 2015 David Cameron was asked whether he’d cut child tax credits. “No, I don’t want to do that,” he said, saying that he rejected reports that he would. Shortly after the election the Government unveiled cuts to child tax credits
4/8 Cycling to work
As leader of the opposition David Cameron was regularly photographed cycling to work. In early 2006 he was photographed cycling but with a driver in a car carrying his belongings. It was suggested at the time the cycling was just for show and that having two vehicles on the road instead of one was wasteful
5/8 Andy Coulson
David Cameron employed former News of the World editor Andy Coulson as government communications director from 2010. After stepping down from the post due to coverage of the phone hacking affairs, Mr Coulson was later found guilty of conspiracy to intercept voicemails. He served a short prison sentence
6/8 His personal windmill
Early in his leadership of the Conservative David Cameron made an effort to change the party’s image by making eco-friendly gesures. As one of these gestures, the future PM put a wind turbine on his house. However, the turbine later had to be removed after neighbours condemned it as an eyesore and the council’s planning committee said it had been put in the wrong place
7/8 Funeral selfie
David Cameron was pictured posing for a ‘selfie’ with Danish PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt and Barack Obama at Nelson Mandela’s funeral. Some in the press criticised the prime minister for showing in an inappropriately low level of respect for the gravity of the occasion
8/8 Eating a hotdog with a knife and fork
The Prime Minister was pictured eating a hotdog with a knife and fork in the run up to the 2015 general election. He was accused of being “posh”. “I had a very privileged upbringing... I've never tried to hide that,” he said