It was 11:21pm on a Sunday night. I had just finished getting emotional about Downton Abbey, and went upstairs to check my phone. I didn’t expect anything to have happened in the couple of hours I had been away, immersed in the gentle comedy of ITV. I could not have been more wrong.
“I'm so confused,” I tweeted, as the #piggate tweets came rolling in. “WHAT IS HAPPENING?” The replies came swiftly: ”Cameron put his penis in a dead pig’s mouth.” I thought it was a joke, but I caught up - and saw that Lord Ashcroft’s unofficial biography of the prime minister claimed that, a possible case of mistaken identity aside, it was true.
I was reminded of some pictures from an outing Cameron had once with Bear Grylls, and wondered if they'd discussed the weird things they'd both done with animals. I wonder if Bear gave him a sideways glance: “Mate, even I wouldn't go that far.” Or perhaps he shrugged and high-fived him, only pulling a disgusted face once Cameron had looked away, perhaps to search for boars in the surrounding foliage.
The idea of someone doing something like this with a dead pig’s mouth is pretty awful – actually, it’s completely vomit-inducing. But possibly the weirdest thing about it is that it isn't even close to the worst thing David Cameron has done.
Under his government, child poverty rose by half a million. He introduced the cruel bedroom tax, which has made life harder for thousands of people - especially those who are disabled.
More recently, he cut tax credits, impacting on some of the poorest families in Britain. It’s important to remember that this is something which, on the Question Time Leaders’ Special before the election, he guaranteed David Dimbleby and the rest of the country that he would not do.
The Prime Minister demonises benefit claimants through his pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps rhetoric of “If you want to succeed, we want to help you.” For too many years, this idea has gone unchallenged, implying that those who struggle do so because of their own lack of ambition. It’s not because the government has failed to support them, or because the government has actively made it harder for them to live – never mind succeed. It’s a huge, blame-shirking excuse for the tangible hardship that has been brought on real families by the Conservatives.
But if benefits claimants don’t get your sympathy, perhaps dying refugees will. It didn’t take people drowning in their thousands to persuade David Cameron to take in our fair share of refugees fleeing conflict; it took public pressure from MPs, the press and the public which started to make him look bad. These are not the actions of a person acting merely on compassion. It shouldn’t have taken a heart-breaking image of a dead child to spur Cameron’s government into action – and let’s remember that they only promised 20,000 refugees a home. To put it into perspective, that is 22.2% of the capacity of Wembley stadium, over 5 years.
Need something more? What about his disdain for the young people of his own country? Cameron’s promised “living wage” is only for the over-25s, he has cut maintenance grants for the poorest students and is allowing universities to raise tuition fees - which could leave people with over £50,000 in debt by the time they are 21. This is a prospect, which, I assure you, puts many my age off university. It perpetuates the idea that higher education is only for the wealthiest like, you know, him. Meanwhile, he’s also scrapped housing benefit for 18-21 year olds and failed to support the motion to allow 16 and 17 year olds to vote, a popular notion across many parties. I wonder why?
If reports are true, he also plans on scrapping free school meals for infants in the future, even though page 36 of the Conservative party manifesto clearly states: “We will support families by proving free school meals to all infants.”
So you see, at the end of the day, I don’t quite know who to feel more sorry for: the pig, or the people of Britain.
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