A very British sex scandal

I wasn’t going to write about this. Notes isn’t a political blog. And it isn’t a sex blog. But then it occurred to me that what we have here is a particularly British political scandal and—well, I’ve talked myself out of posting this several times, and then talked myself back into it. But it looks like I am going to post it, so I’ll paste an, um, awkward position warning on it and leave it up to you whether to read on.

C’mon, how many of you are really going to stop there?

Since we're on a tacky subject, I thought I'd toss in a photo of tacky stuff on sale in Swannage last summer. Do you really want to read on?

Since we’re on a tacky subject, I thought I’d toss in a photo of tacky stuff on sale in Swannage last summer.

Our story begins before the British 2010 election, when Lord Ashcroft—who probably has a first name but doesn’t need to use it because, good lord, he’s a lord—gave some money to the Conservative Party. And when I say “some,” I mean something in the neighborhood of £8 million. (“As you do,” as people here like to say when you couldn’t even remotely.) But when the Conservatives came close enough to winning the election to form a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats, the new Prime Minister, David Cameron, didn’t offer Ashcroft the kind of post he (that’s Ashcroft) believed he (that’s Cameron) had promised him (that’s Ashcroft again).

Well, the good lord isn’t a good enemy to have, because he started work on a biography of Cameron, and bits and pieces are now being leaked to the press. I’m coming late to this story, so when I say “now” I mean last week, but that’s close enough between friends, right? One of them claims that Cameron had sex with a pig.

Well, simulated sex. And the pig was dead at the time, for which I’m grateful. I’m sure the pig would have been as well if it had been in any condition to register an opinion. The exact description is that he put “a private part of his anatomy” in the pig’s mouth.

And then ran for office? Well, yes but not right away. This happened when he was still a student at Oxford, a university that as far as I can tell gathers up not only the most brilliant students but also the hopelessly over-privileged ones, and the folks in that second category apparently can’t find anything better to do with themselves than join bizarre clubs that—well, put it this way: If daddy and mommy didn’t have so much money they’d find their asses in jail for carrying on that way but since daddy and mommy do they not only get away with it, they think it’s their right.

That business about jail? That’s not about the pig, it’s about the vandalism one of the clubs is known for.

Then they go on to run the country and look smug on television. And lecture the rest of us on how to behave.

Now that this is leaking out, #piggate is all over Twitter. I mean, who can resist? The real scandals in our lives—the financial shenanigans, the political dittos, the backroom deals that bring the two categories together? Most of us can’t make heads or tails of them, even when they bring down the economy or bankrupt a country or two. But a sex scandal? Oh, hell yes. We’ll read every inch of type about that.

I’ve given you one link to a newspaper article, but they’re endless. If you want more, you’re on your own. In the U.K., all you have to do is google Cameron and pig. In other countries, you may need to add U.K.

Now I’m not claiming that no American politician ever got up to some kind of antics, sexual or otherwise, in college or afterward, but I’m guessing they never joined a (n allegedly) secret society whose initiation ceremony involved simulated sex with a dead pig. It puts the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal to shame for its lack of imagination. The adage in American politics used to be that you never wanted to get caught in bed with a dead girl or a live boy. Which tells you (a) how much times have changed and (b) how boring American sex scandals are.

Please tell me if I’m wrong about that. Or tell me anything else that seems appropriate. Or, given the topic here, inappropriate. The world’s a far stranger place than most of us imagine.

84 thoughts on “A very British sex scandal

  1. The funny part of this story is that this was the initiating ceremony for an Oxford Uni dining club. Would you want to eat in a dining club where the members do that to pork? Not me! Oh and you are correct it was all over the press, but not the BBC who alluded to the story, but didn’t actually fully report the whole story as it was considered, ‘not quite nice’.

    Liked by 4 people

    • I missed that about it being a dining club. Oh my gawd. That really tips the story over the edge.

      And I’m guessing the BBC is too scared of the government to report on this one. If I were in their position, I’d report on it for spite.


      • >And I’m guessing the BBC is too scared of the government to report on this one
        I don’t reckon so. The Beeb’s a big organisation, so even if the news hounds are backing off from reporting this one, I’m pretty sure the corporation’s satirical news review programs will. Like the News Quiz on Radio 4 (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006r9yq) and Newsjack on Radio 4 Extra (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00kvs8r). I haven’t listened to either of these this week, so don’t know whether they have or not). BBC TV’s Have I Got New For You isn’t currently broadcasting, but you can be sure that if they were on TV, they’d cover it!

        On a slightly different note, I think that the point about this incident isn’t that the British are outraged about a bit of stupidity from some students in the past (even posh, rich ones at Oxford). Rather that it’s just another reminder that the people who run our current very-slim-majority government are a bunch of privileged rich knobs who haven’t a clue what life is like for the majority of the population in the UK – the sort of t*ssers we thought we were going to eliminate from politics at the end of World War II. And they’re still with us! And people still vote for them!!

        There – I’ve nailed my colours to the mast.

        Liked by 4 people

  2. It just proves that people with power and money can’t be trusted to act like decent human beings, regardless of national or political affiliation. I was prepared to be amused, as I often am by your posts, but perhaps the exhaustion of US politics is really settling on me. Listening to Trump bloviating for months has left me humorless about the over-privileged and under-nuanced displays of douchebaggery.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Well that makes sense! I have a friend who used to live in Essex (he’s since moved to Canada to marry the woman of his dreams), and for days his facebook posts were all one-liners about this subject. I assumed ‘privates in a pig’ was some sort of British saying that meant something else like ‘got caught laundering money.’ Thanks for the story. I’m far too lazy to have ever looked it up on my own.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ok, one American’s opinion here: I’m stunned that the revelation of this event rose to the level of scandal in the UK. It just seems stupid and disgusting and, well, mild when I consider what goes on in US fraternities, which I understand is not quite the same thing, because with the Cameron story you have all the class issues making people gasp and clutch their pearls.

    No one died, no one even got hurt (not even the pig!) and it just seems like something any number of boys I knew back in the day would have done and thought the height of hilarity, if they happened to be invited to a dinner that served pig’s head (which they never would be, btw). Not particularly imaginative, not particularly amusing, just absolutely typical of that age and mindset.

    Maybe I’m missing something here as to why this story has got hold of the British press and public and Twittersphere, other than it offers opportunities to call Cameron a pigf-er, which I’m happy to do, but for reasons other than he put his penis is some roasted pig’s head.

    Liked by 4 people

    • I’m happy to admit that this isn’t the central issue, but I don’t know if the pig’s head was roasted. Somehow I imagined it raw. And–this is more central–I wouldn’t say this is exactly a scandal here. It’s certainly not along the lines of the Lewinsky uproar. It’s about class, entitlement, and the opportunity to call Cameron a pigfucker. It’s how smug and self-satisfied and holier-than-thou he comes across as.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. And now I know where the old saying, “when pigs fly” comes from. That makes no sense. I’ll do better next time, but honestly, a pig? Gross! He might’ve contracted trichinosis or hoof and mouth disease.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You missed out the fact that the pig’s head was allagedly on someone’s lap ;)

    I read about why this unauthorised book was apparently put together, but did you know that at the same time this was leaked, it was announced that free school dinners were to be abolished and a coroner ruled the DWP was cupable in a man’s suicide. These were very cleverly forgotten or burried if you like under piggate

    And I think it is a brilliant story, you have the Italian Prime Minister having affairs with under age girls, The French president is out having affairs with actressess and only the British could come up with this sort of a story

    Liked by 3 people

    • Well, yes and no. It started with a traditionally published book and moved from there to the press (yes, I’m beginning to see your point). It was only after that that social media giggled itself into a hiccuping fit over it all.


  7. “Which tells you … how boring American sex scandals are.”

    What’s that saying? If you’re good at something, you tell everyone; if you’re great at something, they’ll tell you.

    Maybe that’s why American sex scandals get so overblown – I mean, they’re good but they’re not THAT good. If we were great at sex scandals we wouldn’t need to make the effort to hype them up; they hype would happen organically.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. The brain has a region called the prefrontal cortex that is responsible for “planning complex cognitive behavior, personality expression, decision making, and moderating social behavior.”

    In males it is not fully developed until the age of 26 on average. It matures earlier in females (as we all know and thank goodness for that). No one is quite certain when it matures in politicians.

    If you study crime, you notice a curve that rises sharply around age 15 and falls precipitously around age 25.

    In short, young people, especially young males, do stupid things. We should account for that and not hold them responsible for the rest of their lives. Personally, I would like to see all criminal records automatically expunged at age 30 for those who do not have a pattern of violence or criminality.

    Aside from all that… there is nothing so fun as a good sex scandal in politics.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Strangely enough BBC World were not reporting on this story so I picked it up from a friend posting memes on Facebook. It is really quite an absurd story but, for me, I think that the most interesting thing the whole anecdote highlights is Britain’s obsession with class and our feelings regarding the “old boys’ network” that effectively runs the country, that they are “other” and live their lives differently from the rest of us. That such a grotesque story could be believed by so many suggests precisely how the higher echelons of society are viewed by the masses.

    As an aside, I am glad that I do not eat pork.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I’ve seen some of the meaner ‘pig-gate’ memes pop up on facebook (don’t judge me :) ) but never dug into the story because – political sex scandal = bored journalists turning into tabloid writers.

    Honestly – I don’t care who is doing what with their naughty bits. Takes all sorts to spin the world.
    Just don’t show me footage.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I live a sheltered life in Suffolk. I don’t tend to read the papers, rarely watch TV, do not listen to the news. On first glance, I thought this post was related to some cheesy keyrings; I guess it might not meet the rules of WordPress if you were to post a picture of a pig and the private parts of a pillock. That said, I’d no idea about this story, until now. Thank you for enlightening me. It doesn’t surprise me and there’s much I could say but ought to bite my tongue for now…. Is that the best they could come up with? It shrieks of Public School buffoons with nothing better to do but spend time coming up with even more ridiculous ideas. It’s so last year. ‘In my final year, I received fellatio from a swine,’ it was that or ‘spend a year helping the less fortunate.’ I’ve now lost the plot and need to lie down in a dark room. What was the story again?

    Liked by 1 person

  12. haha, have you noticed the inordinate amount of comments you’ve had on this post? Italian national papers did have a headline but I didn’t bother to read on. Glad I didn’t, but your comments on who gets to go to Oxford are priceless :)

    Liked by 1 person

  13. The story goes some way to explaining why successive British governments, and Cameron in particular, don’t seem to understand what universities are for. As you say, he got there through money and privilege. I doubt he has the intelligence to have ever got there on merit.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I wouldn’t know, but your comment does remind me of an American columnist who went to high schools with George Bush and swore he wasn’t as dumb as he seemed. It wasn’t a defense and it wasn’t intended as one–she disagreed with him on just about anything you could name.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I wish I could remember what British TV show it was that I saw where the blackmail demand involved getting the PM to do this to a pig on TV……but it is not a new idea to the Brits, apparently. Here in the US, it’s sheep and men from Montana….

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I love the almost last paragraph of this post the most.
    Honestly, I’ve seen drunk people do stranger things. And I mean grown ‘respectable’ suit-wearing, gin & tonic drinkers. I’m no fan of most politicians, including Britain’s. Yes, it’s hysterical, and it’s excellent joke fodder, imagery, all that — but it’s not like (as far as we know) it’s a general hobby of his, hm? I’m not actually shocked or anything.
    I am particularly amused by the uproar of vegans and vegetarians. That’s chuckle-worthy on its own.
    Rather missing the importance, which you so clearly point out, is the maddening hypocrisy of those who seek to govern us.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I’ve traveled England a few times and studied at Cambridge one summer, long ago and the British around me were nothing but exceedingly proper. So, it was a complete shock, upon visiting the House of Lords, to hear them screaming and booing at each other like teenagers during a cafeteria food fight. Yikes! Me thinks there is much hostility bottled up under all that propriety. Enjoyed the glimpse into lifestyles of the rich and entitled.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’d probably enjoy Kate Fox’s Watching the English. She talks a lot about the apparent contradiction between buttoned-up good behavior and the outbreaks of boorishness, and the ways they fit together. And a lot of other things.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Leading off with an alert about impending discussion of politics and sex? Just wave a red flag in front of this bull, why don’t ya…

    I agree with your assessment of the essentially boring nature of US political sec scandals. (We’ve got much more boring secret college societies too, apparently. I can’t say for sure what happened in Skull and Bones during the time that Dubya Bush belonged, but most of what I heard about at Yale didn’t progress in sophistication beyond “singing nursery rhymes as someone else chugs a lot of alcohol, then spins the empty goblet on their head.”)

    What US politicians lack in scandalous inventiveness, however, they make up for in creative excuses. “I have a wide stance” and “hiking the Appalachian Trail,” for instance — as denials for “soliciting sex from man in adjacent stall in airport bathroom” and “left the country without informing my gubernatorial staff that I was visiting my mistress in Argentina” — may not reach the same salaciousness level of intimate-parts-stuck-in-pig-cadaver…but they do have a certain inventive charm.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Pingback: Fighting gay marriage with nuclear weapons, and other fun stuff | Notes from the U.K.

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