Is Lord Ashcroft's new David Cameron book a “revenge job”?

Today's Daily Mail front page makes it seem so, but co-author Isabel Oakeshott has defended the book on Radio 4.

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Isabel Oakeshott, the co-writer of a new book on David Cameron currently being serialised in the Daily Mail (and the source of today’s #piggate), has appeared on Radio 4 to discuss the publication.

Understandably for a day when the internet has been abuzz with one of her book’s allegations, Oakeshott was keen to defend the project as a whole.

“This is just a small fraction of what is a huge book . . . this is just day one the serialisation. There are an awful lot of very positive things in the book.”

“Obviously this story has captured the public imagination, it’s very funny, we ran it after some consideration because it’s colourful and it made us laugh.”

When the interviewer reminded her that the Daily Mail front page billed the book as an act of revenge, she was keen to point out the timing of the book’s publication as evidence that this isn’t merely an attempt to undermine Cameron.

“If this was just a revenge job, Lord Ashcroft and I could have published this before the election . . . or over party conference.”

“By publishing at this point, that will do the least possible damage.”

“It’s never going to be comfortable, but this is the best possible timing from his point of view.”

Oakeshott declined to comment further on some of the more salacious details reported in today’s Daily Mail.

“All I will say is what’s in the Daily Mail’s excellent serialisation today. It’s an account from an MP that was given to us.”

When it was suggested that a single-source story sounds rather “flimsy”, she responded:

“If you look at the way it’s written, it’s written extremely carefully and I don’t want to say any more about it than that.”

Referring to allegations of the Prime Minister’s cannabis use, Oakeshott reminded listeners that “the question of which drugs David Cameron has and hasn’t taken has dogged him since he ran for the party leadership”, and again defended the book, which some close to Cameron have allegedly called “low rent”.

“No one could call the book as a whole low rent”.

A spokeswoman for the Prime Minister says he will not "dignify" the allegations with a response.

Now read Stephen Bush on whether the allegations could damage Cameron's reputation.

Stephanie Boland is head of digital at Prospect. She tweets at @stephanieboland.

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