Corbyn should beware gift horses masquerading as pig heads
There’s an episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer in which a college fraternity capture and sacrifice high school girls to a reptile god in return for success and great wealth. It’s an extreme metaphor but the story’s genesis would almost certainly have come from stories or even experience of the sort of extreme, bizarre and base rituals of college fraternities.
One assumes that the revelations from Lord Ashcroft’s forthcoming book about UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s alleged bizarre behaviour with a pig head during his university days are variation on this theme: an act of ritual humiliation in order to get him in with the right crowd.
Bizarre initiations into university clubs or societies, is in essence, networking. The end result is that you associate with people who are willing to help you achieve your ambitions and for you to help other members of the network in turn. The fact that the initiation into these networks is deviant does not stop them from being what they are.
As revealing, offensive and hilarious as this story is, it is important not to lose sight of the real world and may not be the open goal that it appears. While the incident (if true) may damage the Prime Minister personally it is possible that many may see it as trivial. It is also possible that others will, deep down, find it funny and secretly admire Cameron for his spunk. And there will be more than a few who have done something similar. In short, it may not be the vote loser it appears and Jeremy Corbyn would be wise not to get carried away. Better still they would be better off taking advantage of the awkwardness of the situation to push their own agenda.
Broadcast news won’t want to touch #piggate. They may have no choice to but the subject matter is problematic for them as they try to report on something that could land them in trouble, not only with Cameron’s lawyers (slander) but with the broadcasting regulator OFCOM (taste and decency). They will be looking for other, meatier stories to sink their teeth into.
There is an opportunity for Corbyn to attack the Government on reports that Chancellor George Osborne is set to scrap hot meals at infant schools. If true, this decision will negatively impact on more families, more deeply than any schoolboy antics and is likely to cause huge anger and resentment among countless parents.
Labour should take this opportunity to give hit the BBC, SKY News and ITN as hard as they can on this issue in the hope of bumping it up the agenda. It is the best chance of getting the public onside and making sure it does not happen. It would also demonstrate to people outside their supporter base that they can rise above cheap politics focus on what truly matters.
There are no PMQs this week but if there were, Jeremy Corbyn should resist the temptation to attack him on #piggate. It would be contrary to his previous position on promoting a new kind of politics and he would also be gving Cameron a licence lay into Corbyn. The new leader is not experienced enough on the front bech to defend such attacks. It would be wiser if he tackled the Government on the important issues and maybe add the occasional hog related pun along the way.