If you are involved in politics at all, then you will have spent some part of your waking life over the last few days on social media either reading or inventing ham and bacon related puns and/or general gags. My favourite so far has been the infamous Ed Miliband bacon sandwich picture accompanied by the caption: “Ed finds out what was done to the pig he’s eating”. Which is mostly funny because it makes you realise how many Westminster missteps by major politicians in recent times have literally involved swine.
But what will the lasting affect for Cameron be of all this – if indeed there is any genuinely lasting affect at all? First off, I think the whole pig thing is so bizarre it will just bounce off the general public consciousness. The allegation that Ashcroft has thrown at the prime minister that could actually be damaging involves Cameron supposedly knowing about the Tory peer’s non-dom tax status a lot earlier than Cameron has claimed he did. If it is true, this involves the prime minister lying to the British public over a highly sensitive area.
The whole thing is a matter of Ashcroft’s word over Cameron’s – unless Ashcroft has some form of incontrovertible evidence, which is hard to imagine him having given the question isn’t whether the two men involved had the conversation in question, but when precisely it took place. As a result, whatever actually happened, this isn’t something that should threaten Cameron’s premiership in the short term.
The more likely result will be to make Cameron think twice about remaining leader at the next election – there have been rumours that in the face of Labour’s meltdown, Cameron is rethinking his plan to step down pre-general election. Perhaps getting Cameron to do so was at least part of the point of this bizarre saga.