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What David Cameron did to the pig, his party is now doing to the country

There is a reason David Cameron is allowed to hold office when everyone assumes he spent the 1980s getting up to weird things with pork, but Jeremy Corbyn is considered unelectable because he didn’t sing the national anthem last week.

Whatever you do, don’t think about David Cameron and a dead pig. I know, I know it’s like trying not to think of an elephant, but the fact is that the allegations that the Prime Minister may have put a 'private part of his anatomy" into a dead pig's mouth as part of an initiation ritual for an elite drinking society at Oxford University are actually a very serious matter, and it’s all about corruption and the nature of elected power, and it would help if we could all just calm down for a second and stop giggling. Don’t think I don’t see you at the back there.

You know, I feel for David Cameron today, I really do. Politicians’ private sex lives should never be used against them - unless their particular proclivities implicate them in gross hypocrisy or they have harmed another human being. If the rumours are true, it’s unlikely that the pig in question was hurt by the Prime Minister’s ministrations, given that it was already missing its limbs and torso.

Sniggering aside, this is unlikely to hurt David Cameron in the long run. He’s not looking for re-election, and besides, everyone knows posh people get up to weird sex stuff. Weird sex stuff is as British as weak tea and racism. When I was at Oxford, it was an open secret that the posh kids had naughty parties, and, of course, so did the rest of us - the difference was the much lower budget, and the fact that the posh kids didn’t seem to enjoy it as much as we did. It all seemed to be more about getting on than getting off. You didn’t shag or not shag the pig’s face because that was what you were into, you did it because you had your eye on a safe seat in Dorset in 20 years’ time and you needed to make the right friends.

There is a reason that David Cameron is allowed to hold office when everyone assumes he spent the 1980s taking drugs and getting up to weird things with his Eton mates, but Jeremy Corbyn is considered unelectable because he didn’t sing the national anthem last week. Cameron is part of a select group of people to whom different rules apply, and he knows it, and his friends know it, and the tabloids know it, and the whole cosy British political machine knows it. This is why Corbyn will spend the next five years being savaged for having a slightly rumpled tie by the same newspapers that reported on the dead pig allegations under the title "the making of an extraordinary Prime Minister".

The thing that's really horrifying about what has already been dubbed the 'Hameron' scandal is that it demonstrates what entitlement of this kind actually means, and how embarrassing it all is. There are people out there who can spend their early twenties in close proximity to cocaine and popping their peckers in offal and not even consider for a second that there might be anyone better placed to run the country. These are people who know the rules don’t apply to them, who know they can do whatever they want and still end up in charge. 

I don't honestly care whether or not David Cameron shagged a dead pig. I've been to enough house parties in Bethnal Green that this sort of thing doesn't shock me. Come back to me when there’s video evidence of Cameron dressed in a leather gimp-suit tanned from the flayed skins of the former shadow cabinet, leaping into an entire Shropshire field full of pigs and screaming that his name is Legion. Then we’ll talk. There are a lot of things that David Cameron has definitely done that I do find disgusting, though. Taking away benefits from sick and disabled people, pricing poor kids out of higher education, and forcing millions of families to rely on food banks. That, to me, is shocking and grotesque. I don't give a damn about what he did or didn’t do to that pig, and whether there was mood-lighting involved. 

But the fact is that a lot of people do, and they're precisely the sort of people whose votes Cameron has relied on to shore up the power he clearly feels is his by right, might and various dodgy initiation rituals involving sex workers, smashing up pubs and knobbing bits of meat. Cameron clearly believes those people are there to be manipulated, and that’s the reason this story actually matters, beyond the immediate risk that a handful of pearl-clutchers in the Home Counties might splutter themselves to death. 

I was explaining all this to an American friend who asked, not unreasonably, why I'd spent all morning scrolling through Twitter and cackling like a toddler with a nerf gun. I did my best to describe seriously what had happened, and my friend, who does not follow British politics, asked me, 'so this guy, was he elected or appointed?'

The answer, of course, is both. David Cameron is not just prime minister because a quarter of the country voted for him. That's not how power works in Britain, or anywhere, and it's moments like this that show it plainly, which is why we're all vaguely embarrassed today. Cameron's route to the office he clearly believes himself born to began much earlier, possibly even on a balmy Oxford night, just Dave, a dead pig and a select group of wide-eyed, gurning future business leaders, all whooping and cheering.

It would surely have been a moment more important to Cameron's career than any number of photoshoots with builders in Totnes. Power and money are accessed through the back door, or, as it may be, the pig's mouth, and as with any kink, the eroticism isn't about the act, but about what the act symbolises. It's about humiliation, about control, about power play. What might the young swain have been thinking as he unzipped? What went through his head? If you ask me, I'll bet he was thinking: Soon. Someday soon, I will do this to the whole bloody country.

Laurie Penny is a contributing editor to the New Statesman. She is the author of five books, most recently Unspeakable Things.

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Rising crime and fewer police show the most damaging impacts of austerity

We need to protect those who protect us.

Today’s revelation that police-recorded crime has risen by 10 per cent across England and Wales shows one of the most damaging impacts of austerity. Behind the cold figures are countless stories of personal misery; 723 homicides, 466,018 crimes with violence resulting in injury, and 205,869 domestic burglaries to take just a few examples.

It is crucial that politicians of all parties seek to address this rising level of violence and offer solutions to halt the increase in violent crime. I challenge any Tory to defend the idea that their constituents are best served by a continued squeeze on police budgets, when the number of officers is already at the lowest level for more than 30 years.

This week saw the launch Chris Bryant's Protect The Protectors Private Member’s Bill, which aims to secure greater protections for emergency service workers. It carries on where my attempts in the last parliament left off, and could not come at a more important time. Cuts to the number of police officers on our streets have not only left our communities less safe, but officers themselves are now more vulnerable as well.

As an MP I work closely with the local neighbourhood policing teams in my constituency of Halifax. There is some outstanding work going on to address the underlying causes of crime, to tackle antisocial behaviour, and to build trust and engagement across communities. I am always amazed that neighbourhood police officers seem to know the name of every kid in their patch. However cuts to West Yorkshire Police, which have totalled more than £160m since 2010, have meant that the number of neighbourhood officers in my district has been cut by half in the last year, as the budget squeeze continues and more resources are drawn into counter-terrorism and other specialisms .

Overall, West Yorkshire Police have seen a loss of around 1,200 officers. West Yorkshire Police Federation chairman Nick Smart is clear about the result: "To say it’s had no effect on frontline policing is just a nonsense.” Yet for years the Conservatives have argued just this, with the Prime Minister recently telling MPs that crime was at a record low, and ministers frequently arguing that the changing nature of crime means that the number of officers is a poor measure of police effectiveness. These figures today completely debunk that myth.

Constituents are also increasingly coming to me with concerns that crimes are not investigated once they are reported. Where the police simply do not have the resources to follow-up and attend or investigate crimes, communities lose faith and the criminals grow in confidence.

A frequently overlooked part of this discussion is that the demands on police have increased hugely, often in some unexpected ways. A clear example of this is that cuts in our mental health services have resulted in police officers having to deal with mental health issues in the custody suite. While on shift with the police last year, I saw how an average night included a series of people detained under the Mental Health Act. Due to a lack of specialist beds, vulnerable patients were held in a police cell, or even in the back of a police car, for their own safety. We should all be concerned that the police are becoming a catch-all for the state’s failures.

While the politically charged campaign to restore police numbers is ongoing, Protect The Protectors is seeking to build cross-party support for measures that would offer greater protections to officers immediately. In February, the Police Federation of England and Wales released the results of its latest welfare survey data which suggest that there were more than two million unarmed physical assaults on officers over a 12-month period, and a further 302,842 assaults using a deadly weapon.

This is partly due to an increase in single crewing, which sees officers sent out on their own into often hostile circumstances. Morale in the police has suffered hugely in recent years and almost every front-line officer will be able to recall a time when they were recently assaulted.

If we want to tackle this undeniable rise in violent crime, then a large part of the solution is protecting those who protect us; strengthening the law to keep them from harm where possible, restoring morale by removing the pay cap, and most importantly, increasing their numbers.

Holly Lynch is the MP for Halifax. The Protect the Protectors bill will get its second reading on the Friday 20th October. 

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