“I did things when I was young that I should not have done, and that I regret”

There is a scene at the beginning of the first episode of Better Call Saul in which three young students are incarcerated for fornicating with a severed head. Their (low-rent) lawyer suggested that “they got a bit carried away.” Then the jury settled down to watch the video evidence.

There is a scene in Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror (2011) in which a prime minister is – essentially – forced to copulate with a pig.

Enough said about these lurid scenes.

Former Conservative Treasurer (and big donor) Lord Ashcroft and journalist Isabel Oakshott have written a book together – a biography of David Cameron – in which unrepeatable allegations are put forward about Mr Cameron’s days at Oxford University, and a dead pig.

If you want to know more, Twitter is your friend.

Do consider the core allegation with some scepticism. Truth is stranger than fiction, but (while it may indeed be true) this particular nugget, from a single source, remains unsubstantiated. There is a reasonable defence by Toby Young here:

On the face of it, it looks like a misjudgment for David Cameron to have denied Lord Ashcroft a Cabinet post in 2010, as it seems Ashcroft had expected. But in light of Ashcroft’s subsequent behaviour, whither the alternative? I’m not convinced he chose poorly. For all the personal damage, perhaps he made the better call.

For her part, Isabel Oakeshott has defended a book that delves into “the good, the bad and the ugly” of the prime minister’s character and she denies the publication is the result of a personal vendetta by her co-author. She told BBC News it was the “least damaging period to publish a book like this.”

But Oakeshott has also refused to say whether she believes the pig anecdote.

Mr Cameron will recover from this – up to a point – but he will be forever weakened. It’s not something he should resign over, and certainly not something he would resign over. Such a resignation would merit its own very special place in history.

But it will be forever awkward – imagine the snorts at Prime Minister’s Questions…

On which point, wouldn’t it be wonderful to have William Hague (or someone of his comic calibre) somehow magically back in his role as Leader of the Opposition for the next edition of PMQs, facing Mr Cameron. He would be as happy as the proverbial pig in shit. MPs across the house would love it. The public (those few who watch PMQs) certainly would.

I am reminded of David Cameron’s comments as Conservative leader many years ago when he was under pressure over drugs claims (some of which are repeated in the book):

Like many people I did things when I was young that I should not have done, and that I regret. But I do believe that politicians are entitled to a past that is private, and that remains private, so I won’t be making any commentary on what is in the newspapers today.
David Cameron, February 2007

Wise words indeed.