But Cameron went a great deal further. He also got involved in the notorious Oxford dining society, the Piers Gaveston, named after the lover of Edward II, which specialises in bizarre rituals and sexual excess.
A distinguished Oxford contemporary claims Cameron once took part in an outrageous initiation ceremony at a Piers Gaveston event, involving a dead pig. His extraordinary suggestion is that the future PM inserted a private part of his anatomy into the animal’s mouth.
The source — himself an MP — first made the allegation out of the blue at a business dinner in June 2014. Lowering his voice, he claimed to have seen photographic evidence of this disgusting ritual.
My co-author Isabel Oakeshott and I initially assumed this was a joke. It was therefore a surprise when, some weeks later, the MP repeated the allegation.
– Excerpt from Call Me Dave: The Unauthorized Biography, Michael Ashcroft
The recent revelations regarding the current Prime Minister of the United Kingdom are of no surprise to me whatsoever. Yes, really.
David Cameron is an alumnus of the Bullingdon Club, that exclusive and highly sophisticated gathering whose initiation ceremony is alleged to include burning money in front of a beggar, and is notorious for their destruction and debauchery – while safe in the knowledge that they are protected from all but the lightest slaps on the wrist as long as they are suitably contrite.
But there’s a lot more to this story.
Rob Fahey has an excellent appraisal of how this bizarre episode lays bare the sordid machinations of power in the UK establishment:
Initiation ceremonies or “hazing” rituals, often of a painful, humiliating, transgressive or sexual nature, are a well-documented part of the culture of many organisations run by and for young men, especially those from positions of privilege or in elite institutions. Hazing is a fixture, albeit usually in less extreme form than many might imagine, of “greek life” at US colleges; initiation rituals of some description are relatively common in elite societies at top educational institutions elsewhere. Such rituals seem to be an especially important part of extremely disciplined groups such as certain military units. The primary social function served by these rituals is to accelerate and deepen the bonds shared by members of the group, and the sense of loyalty to the group each person holds. By committing transgressive acts together, members develop a sense of sharing in a mutual secret, thus instantly creating trust; by overcoming some humiliation or pain, new members deepen their commitment to the group, as their internal logic reasons that if they are willing to endure such an ordeal, it must mean that the group is important and deserving of loyalty (otherwise, they would have made a terrible mistake and gone through all of that suffering for nothing). Through these acts bonds are forged, networks established; the “old school tie”, used as a metaphor for Britain’s elite networks, is also a metaphor for the actions and rituals, transgressive or otherwise, which created those networks during the formative years of their members.
That much is somewhat understandable; in truth, few of us are not part of a “network” based in some way on the same psychology, even if our networks are perhaps less likely to involve prime ministers and billionaires. Bearing witness to one another doing embarrassing things, usually if not always under the influence of alcohol, is a fairly standard part of the socialisation process, especially for young men; it may not be quite as ritualised or organised as ceremonial events which require very specific orders from local butchers, but moments of embarrassment or transgression shared with close friends are a basic building block of many of our relationships.
The ritualised, sexually grotesque nature of Cameron’s initiation sets it apart somewhat, of course; but what’s also different about this kind of ritual in elite circles is the calculation behind it, the power and control it affords, and the self-perpetuating network of influence it creates. Consider this scenario; at elite institutions, those earmarked – by wealth, by title, by connections – for future leadership roles are forced, as impressionable young people, to carry out humiliating acts in order to gain acceptance by an in-group. That same in-group will, over the course of their lives, help advance their career massively in ways both overt and covert; membership of that group essentially secures their success in life. The cost of entry, paid by all members of the group, is participation in humiliating acts; acts which will forever wed them to the group, because should they later act in a way contrary to the group’s interests or desires, their “indiscretions” can be brought back to destroy their careers or personal lives.
So, is this indeed a case of fraternity hazing, or a ritualistic initiation ritual? It could be both, but it takes on an altogether sinister air when more details are given:
Some months later, he repeated it a third time, providing a little more detail. The pig’s head, he claimed, had been resting on the lap of a Piers Gaveston society member while Cameron performed the act.
The MP also gave us the dimensions of the alleged photograph, and provided the name of the individual who he claims has it in his keeping.
The owner, however, has failed to respond to our approaches. Perhaps it is a case of mistaken identity. Yet it is an elaborate story for an otherwise credible figure to invent.
Furthermore, there are a number of accounts of pigs’ heads at debauched parties in Cameron’s day.
The late Count Gottfried von Bismarck, an Oxford contemporary of Cameron’s, reportedly threw dinner parties featuring the heads of pigs. (He later became notorious after Olivia Channon, daughter of a Tory minister, died of a heroin overdose in his Christ Church bedroom.)
Welcome to the machine that runs the UK.
When Team 56 were elected to the UK parliament, I found myself glued to parliamentary television like never before. And while I was aware of the antiquated practises which are supposed to represent a 21st Century democratic state, I still found myself completely unprepared.
They have a man called Black Rod, who parades about keeping the place secure, and has the door slammed in his face while grown men shout. The head of state who was supposedly rendered powerless two hundred years ago arrives in a golden carriage with pomp and circumstance. The MPs deliver a hostage to Buckingham Palace to ensure that the members of Parliament do not, in fact, murder the queen.
This is happening in 2015. This is the year two thousand and fifteen. This is a modern democratic state.
The fact that the opening of Parliament has barely changed over the course of centuries is tied into the phenomenon of the UK Establishment’s upper echelons being trapped in time, engaging in archaic practises that you would think had no place in a modern democratic society. Impropriety with animals, dead or alive, has been a dark undercurrent in society since prehistoric times, through the classical period, and beyond. I have to wonder if the Piers Gaveston society is aware that porcus was a euphemism in Ancient Rome? Wouldn’t surprise me. It goes hand-in-hand with the contempt our supposed masters have for the common folk:
One Tory colleague thinks that the answer is ‘considerable’. The MP concerned was once asked to join the club himself, but attended just one gathering before walking out in disgust.
‘What it basically involved was getting drunk and standing on restaurant tables, shouting about “f***ing plebs”,’ he says. ‘It was all about despising poor people.’
For his part, James Delingpole admits he ‘rather wanted’ to be in the Bullingdon, which had a recruitment ritual of trashing the room of any prospective member. He says: ‘Looking back — a) I didn’t have enough money, and b) I wouldn’t have actually enjoyed the sort of things they did, because I’m not very good at drinking heinous quantities and behaving really, really badly.
‘It’s about mindless destruction, and conspicuous excess and the rather ugly side of upper-class life. It’s loathsome.’
This is what we’re fighting against. These are the forces opposed to our cause. Wee Ginger Dug elucidates as concisely as ever: “To all you No voters out there, if you had voted Yes with the rest of us last year, we wouldn’t currently be living in a country governed by a man who allegedly had sex with a dead pig. Reflect on that over your bacon sandwich as you realise that the entire world is laughing at the United Kingdom.” As much as the Bullingdon Boys are slaves to power, when it comes to society at large, we are the pigs.