Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

'There is a reason David Cameron is allowed to hold office when everyone assumes he spent the 1980s getting up to weird things with pork,' writes Penny, 'but Jeremy Corbyn is considered unelectable because he didn’t sing the national anthem last week.' (Photo: Rex Features)

What David Cameron Did to the Pig, His Party Is Now Doing to the Country

Laurie Penny

 by The New Statesman

Whatever you do, don’t think about David Cameron and a dead pig. I know, I know it’s like trying not to think of an elephant, but the fact is that the allegations that the Prime Minister may have put a 'private part of his anatomy" into a dead pig's mouth as part of an initiation ritual for an elite drinking society at Oxford University are actually a very serious matter, and it’s all about corruption and the nature of elected power, and it would help if we could all just calm down for a second and stop giggling. Don’t think I don’t see you at the back there.

You know, I feel for David Cameron today, I really do. Politicians’ private sex lives should never be used against them - unless their particular proclivities implicate them in gross hypocrisy or they have harmed another human being. If the rumours are true, it’s unlikely that the pig in question was hurt by the Prime Minister’s ministrations, given that it was already missing its limbs and torso.

Sniggering aside, this is unlikely to hurt David Cameron in the long run. He’s not looking for re-election, and besides, everyone knows posh people get up to weird sex stuff. Weird sex stuff is as British as weak tea and racism. When I was at Oxford, it was an open secret that the posh kids had naughty parties, and, of course, so did the rest of us - the difference was the much lower budget, and the fact that the posh kids didn’t seem to enjoy it as much as we did. It all seemed to be more about getting on than getting off. You didn’t shag or not shag the pig’s face because that was what you were into, you did it because you had your eye on a safe seat in Dorset in 20 years’ time and you needed to make the right friends.

There is a reason that David Cameron is allowed to hold office when everyone assumes he spent the 1980s taking drugs and getting up to weird things with his Eton mates, but Jeremy Corbyn is considered unelectable because he didn’t sing the national anthem last week. Cameron is part of a select group of people to whom different rules apply, and he knows it, and his friends know it, and the tabloids know it, and the whole cosy British political machine knows it. This is why Corbyn will spend the next five years being savaged for having a slightly rumpled tie by the same newspapers that reported on the dead pig allegations under the title "the making of an extraordinary Prime Minister".

The thing that's really horrifying about what has already been dubbed the 'Hameron' scandal is that it demonstrates what entitlement of this kind actually means, and how embarrassing it all is. There are people out there who can spend their early twenties in close proximity to cocaine and popping their peckers in offal and not even consider for a second that there might be anyone better placed to run the country. These are people who know the rules don’t apply to them, who know they can do whatever they want and still end up in charge. 

I don't honestly care whether or not David Cameron shagged a dead pig. I've been to enough house parties in Bethnal Green that this sort of thing doesn't shock me. Come back to me when there’s video evidence of Cameron dressed in a leather gimp-suit tanned from the flayed skins of the former shadow cabinet, leaping into an entire Shropshire field full of pigs and screaming that his name is Legion. Then we’ll talk. There are a lot of things that David Cameron has definitely done that I do find disgusting, though. Taking away benefits from sick and disabled people, pricing poor kids out of higher education, and forcing millions of families to rely on food banks. That, to me, is shocking and grotesque. I don't give a damn about what he did or didn’t do to that pig, and whether there was mood-lighting involved. 

But the fact is that a lot of people do, and they're precisely the sort of people whose votes Cameron has relied on to shore up the power he clearly feels is his by right, might and various dodgy initiation rituals involving sex workers, smashing up pubs and knobbing bits of meat. Cameron clearly believes those people are there to be manipulated, and that’s the reason this story actually matters, beyond the immediate risk that a handful of pearl-clutchers in the Home Counties might splutter themselves to death. 

I was explaining all this to an American friend who asked, not unreasonably, why I'd spent all morning scrolling through Twitter and cackling like a toddler with a nerf gun. I did my best to describe seriously what had happened, and my friend, who does not follow British politics, asked me, 'so this guy, was he elected or appointed?'

The answer, of course, is both. David Cameron is not just prime minister because a quarter of the country voted for him. That's not how power works in Britain, or anywhere, and it's moments like this that show it plainly, which is why we're all vaguely embarrassed today. Cameron's route to the office he clearly believes himself born to began much earlier, possibly even on a balmy Oxford night, just Dave, a dead pig and a select group of wide-eyed, gurning future business leaders, all whooping and cheering.

It would surely have been a moment more important to Cameron's career than any number of photoshoots with builders in Totnes. Power and money are accessed through the back door, or, as it may be, the pig's mouth, and as with any kink, the eroticism isn't about the act, but about what the act symbolises. It's about humiliation, about control, about power play. What might the young swain have been thinking as he unzipped? What went through his head? If you ask me, I'll bet he was thinking: Soon. Someday soon, I will do this to the whole bloody country.


© 2016 The New Statesman
Laurie Penny

Laurie Penny

Laurie Penny is a contributing editor to the New Statesman. She is the author of five books, most recently "Bitch Doctrine: Essays for Dissenting Adults" (2017) and "Everything Belongs to the Future" (2016).

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'Cleaner Air Is Coming' as London Expands Vehicle Pollution Fee to Entire Metro Area

"Around 4,000 Londoners die prematurely each year because of long-term exposure to air pollution, with the greatest number of deaths in outer London boroughs," noted Mayor Sadiq Khan in announcing the expansion.

Brett Wilkins ·


'Amazing News': Historic Shark Protections Approved at Global Wildlife Convention

Up to 90% of sharks targeted by the lucrative fin trade will now be protected, said one advocate.

Julia Conley ·


'The Nightmare Materializes': Far-Right Extremist Itamar Ben-Gvir to Be Israel's National Security Minister

The Foreign Affairs Ministry of the Palestinian Authority said Ben-Gvir's elevation to national security minister could have a "catastrophic impact on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."

Jake Johnson ·


Raging Wars, Soaring Hunger Put Women and Girls in Crosshairs, Warns UN

"A toxic mix of crises—conflicts, climate, skyrocketing costs, and the ripple effects of the Ukraine war—are inflicting a devastating toll on the forcibly displaced. This is being felt across the world, but women and girls are particularly suffering."

Brett Wilkins ·


Greta Thunberg Joins 630+ Young People in Landmark Climate Lawsuit Against Sweden

"The Swedish state fails to meet the constitutional requirement to promote sustainable development leading to a good environment for present and future generations," said the plaintiffs.

Julia Conley ·

Common Dreams Logo