It is a less than satisfactory feature of the UK political system that individuals who donate large amounts of money to political parties tend to be rewarded, in due course, with a peerage. Some of these individuals, such as Lord McAlpine, are largely unexceptionable and others, such as Lord Ashcroft are less admirable.
In return for his donations, it seems that Lord Ashcroft expected first to be made treasurer of the Conservative party, which happened, and then when the Conservative party regained power, to be given ministerial appointment, which did not happen. Lord Ashcroft was evidently less than pleased, and in revenge has written a book about the present Prime Minister, David Cameron, accusing him among other things of having, whilst at university, put his private parts into the mouth of the dead pig as part of an initiation ritual for the Piers Galveston Society. Presumably, this supposed to have been at the dinner table.
It is an unlikely story, but the interesting thing is that it appears to have rather rebounded on Lord Ashcroft. A recent survey suggests that the vast majority of people in the United Kingdom do not think any the worse of David Cameron for the story – whether they believe it or not – and I suspect that a number of people find the notion improbable but nevertheless rather cheering, as suggesting a feisty side to David Cameron’s character which might otherwise thought to be a little lacklustre. And so David Cameron has come out of it rather well.
So, bizarrely, has Jeremy Corbyn, the recently elected left-wing leader of the Labour Party, who has been married 3 times and is further thought to have an affair with fellow socialist politician Diane Abbott during a bike trip in communist East Germany in the 1970s. It has been reported that a distinctly vicious contributor to Jeremy Corbyn’s twitter page asked, “Which is worse, fucking a pig or fucking Diane Abbott?” Now, the thing about Jeremy Corbyn is that, whilst he is as nutty as a fruitcake when it comes to political judgement, he is evidently a pleasant fellow, and there is no suggestion that his colourful love life is the result of any particular unkindness on his part. And so what this unpleasant remark is done is to remind people that Jeremy Corbyn’s refusal to indulge in ad hominem attacks is entirely to his credit. Again though, his judgement might be in question – what sort of young man would seriously want to go on a bike trip in communist East Germany?
It seems that Jeremy Corbyn is somewhat ashamed of his bicycling, and has admitted feeling guilty for his excess capitalism in owning not one but two pedal bicycles (he does not own a car or even a motor bike). Likewise, it seems that David Cameron may be uneasy about his membership at Oxford of the Piers Galveston Society, which had a reputation for debauchery. It is named after Piers Galveston, who attained some notoriety in the early 14th century as a result of his very close friendship with Edward II; it was widely thought that the two were homosexual lovers, but perhaps they were just an early example of men behaving badly.
I do not think that either men need to be too worried about their past. Personally, I think I wasted too much of my youth behaving well and studying law, and rather wish that I had some more debauchery to look back on in my sunset years.