In light of Cameron’s misdemeanours with a pig taking centre stage, has students’ trust in politics finally been destroyed for ever?
Official media channels ignored it but twitter exploded.
The night of #piggate and #hameron was only my second night on twitter (I’m still getting the hang of it, anyone following, please forgive me) and I wondered if this sort of thing just happened regularly.
I went to sleep assuming it would blow over but in the morning everyone was talking about the fact that David Cameron had been accused of having ‘relations’ with a pig during his Uni days. When chatting to my Australian friend later that day she asked what I thought about my Prime Minister and the fateful dead pig.
This had spread far too quickly.
People who only knew Britain’s Prime Minister’s name for the sake of pub quizzes were now talking about David Cameron—for all the wrong, most embarrassing reasons.
Has this damaged the UK’s reputation on an international stage forever? And, closer to home, how has this affected UCL students’ trust in politics?
Piggate is but one of the many accusations to come from Call Me Dave, the new book currently being serialised in the Daily Mail, by Lord Michael Ashcroft and Isabel Oakeshott. Of course, Piggate is a hilariously ridiculous news story regardless of its validity, but what about the book’s other accusations which the media is sidestepping?
I asked UCL students for their opinions and Dana Moss, a second-year English student, said she was concerned about the other allegations’ lack of coverage, saying ‘It’s more worrying to me that Cameron was aware of Ashcroft’s non-dom tax status before the 2010 election. And we’re mainly ignoring this in favour of the more memorable pig story.’
Labour and SNP did raise questions over this but it was a lot less present in the press and generally swept over.
This is concerning for students especially: why should we trust our politicians if even when their lies are revealed (in the preface to Call Me Dave Ashcroft claims he and Cameron “had a conversation about how we could delay revealing my tax arrangements until after the election” in 2009) they still get away with it?
Second year student Niall Adams agreed and cast aspersions on the trustfulness of politicians and the media saying “It doesn’t surprise me that the media’s going to run with piggate because it’s more sensationalist. The media can’t completely ignore it all so they think let’s distract people with the Uni stories, ‘Oh just some Uni banter’…”
Some students also felt that Cameron had ‘got away with it’ slightly due to the fact it happened at a secret society at the prestigious Oxford University; the Etonian umbrella of protection that stretches from Eddie Redmayne and Frank Turner, to Boris Johnson and George Osborne has kept Cameron dry once again. Somehow the mask of ‘boys will be boys’ and the excuse that it’s something teenagers do at that age (and here I can confirm, no, it really isn’t) has saved face for the Government again and allowed the whole scandal to be washed down with a nice party conference.
But students on the whole don’t seem too worried, some saying they simply didn’t believe it and it had been blown out of proportion. Generally, students said their trust in politicians hadn’t changed as they’d rather base their trust on the Government’s policies and their voting records because, at the end of the day, that’s what their job is about.
Overall, this is just a little blip on the political landscape, but it has reinforced questions that were already simmering of nepotism in UK politics.
If Ashcroft has something like this on Cameron and felt he could coerce him because of this, how many others of the inner circle of our current Government may have dirt on each other?
Initially, piggate simply seems hilarious but if you consider the implications underneath of elitist corruption then it’s actually rather terrifying.
Labour and the SNP are trying to call Cameron out on the validity of these terms but it isn’t going to happen quickly – certainly not as quickly as #hameron trended.
So if this so called ‘scandal’ has taught us anything perhaps it’s this: Prime Minister’s Questions really has nothing on the power of Twitter.