THE BLOG
23/09/2015 13:37 BST | Updated 23/09/2016 06:12 BST

They'll Whisper It But Even David Cameron's Rivals Are Starting to Feel Sorry For Him Over Pig-Gate

The clocks seemed to stop when the first revelations dropped. The front page of the Daily Mail, emblazoned with a screaming "Revenge!" headline. Tory mega-donor Lord Ashcroft dishing the dirt on David Cameron.

Almost buried within a rat-a-tat-tat of allegations was the big one. It's so well-known now it doesn't need repeating. Let's just call it Pig-Gate.

How damaging is it? As Newsnight pointed out, history could remember Cameron as it does Catherine the Great, who many think died while copulating with a horse, despite that not being true. Who knows how legends are made, but the public mood may be more forgiving for the PM.

Co-author Isabel Oakeshott, who has done all the media appearances plugging and defending the Call Me Dave biography, argues settling scores has not fuelled the publication. But the billionaire made clear he has a "beef" with the PM over not getting the top government job he says he was promised. In any case, if the public thinks retribution is being meted out by a man of privilege it plays to Cameron's favour.

What might mitigate the damage is the main allegation stands on shaky ground. Based on a single source, a "distinguished" MP who says there is photographic evidence, Oakeshott has said it is up to the public to decide if it is true or not. It's surprising it's not being defended to the hilt. On Good Morning Britain today, presenters Susanna Reid and Kate Garraway gave the author a rough ride. "I would have expected you to have done more research," said Garraway, tough Oakeshott insisted the story "isn't Watergate".

It's not everyone's cup of tea, but Pig-Gate can be filed under university high-jinx. If you've not been in a elite university society, a rugby club or Balearic holiday could provide similar if not identical levels of decadence. Notable was how allied allegations about Cameron taking drugs were greeted with a yawn of indifference. It may be the last time a politician's university blow-out troubles the front pages.

At worst, as pollsters have noted, many voters will think this is what posh boys do at arcane institutions. Damaging? Unlikely. If anything, people are feeling sorry for the guy.