So, a (presumably now ex-)friend of David Cameron has just published a book containing salacious gossip which, though it might interest some of the public, serves no public interest. So, it can only be concluded that its primary motivation is to profit from publicly embarrassing (among others) the UK’s former Prime Minister. Being averse to Cameron and unforgiving of his treasonous neglect, does this make me giggle? Well, to a point. But it also disturbs. Because it provokes an element of sympathy for him.
I know nothing about ‘Lady’ Sasha Swire, wife of Sir Hugo Swire, a former MP and one-time minister in Cameron’s government. “Keep a diary, and one day it will keep you”, said Mae West. Did Swire deliberately keep written records of conversations during time spent in the company of David Cameron and his family? Was this just innocent private diary keeping? Well, then, okay. Or was it a deliberate policy of amassing material for future exploitation? The titling – Diary of an MP’s Wife – suggests the latter. In which case, she’s a lousy friend! Otherwise wouldn’t her justification go something like: she never intended to publish but is doing so now in revenge for some perceived slight?
Accepting and extending invites to dinners, sharing holidays, and being allowed ‘on the inside’ at significant moments (such as the night after he abandoned his country to the Brexit headbangers) suggests close friendship, indeed privilege. Friends value and respect privacy and discretion. So, it looks like we have here another marker of Cameron’s lousy judgement. (He considered Boris Johnson and Michael Gove – two of the most mendacious fucks ever to soil British politics – as friends, remember. Though his reluctance to publicly condemn Johnson’s recent disregarding of international law suggests he still seeks to bask in the glow of an over-regarded personality.) Or has Swire been so offended and incensed by something Cameron did or didn’t do? Because he never promoted her husband to cabinet?
Anyway, I’m confused by this flirtatious duplicity Swire attributes to Cameron:
‘At one point, on the coastal path, [Cameron] asks me not to walk in front of him. “Why?” I ask. “Because the scent you are wearing is affecting my pheromones. It makes me want to grab you and push you into the bushes and give you one.”’
I’m not about to buy Swire’s book in order to pad out the context here. I may be mistaken, but I presume that The Camerons and The Swires were holidaying together; not David Cameron and Sasha Swire alone. I also imagine that the two families were hiking together, not David Cameron and Sasha Swire alone. If I’m wrong, then questions come to mind. Instead, let’s go with what we have. I imagine that the concertina remixing of people along coastal pathways that group hiking inevitably brings momentarily brought Cameron and Swire into close proximity and, crucially, out of earshot of their respective family members. I mean, when else would Cameron risk the kind of comment that would make a teenager cringe when her suitor is ardently trying to get his fingers damp?
I also wonder that Swire left a bit too much time before writing this down in her tawdry little notebook and may be misquoting. Or that any recording device she may have sneakily concealed on her person has picked up too much rustling of clothes, such that she was later unable to properly transcribe and so has filled in the gaps by guessing at what Cameron did say. (Or wants us to believe he said.) Because at least one of them is showing off their juvenile ignorance.
My biological knowledge is increasingly out-of-date, but, as far as I’m aware, there is no evidence that humans produce and secrete actual pheromones. Moreover, sex pheromones are produced for the purposes of attraction, mostly associated with ready-to-mate insects. That’s not to say humans don’t produce and emit sex pheromones that (knowingly or unknowingly) arouse someone receiving them. Smell is a primitive, more important sense than we realise. We can be attracted and stimulated by smells, for sure. Though pheromones might not ‘smell’, as we use the term. But that’s not important. The point is, pheromones are emitted. Did Cameron actually mean that Swire’s scent was having some pheromone-like effect on him? If so, then he was confused. Or Swire was confused when transcribing. Because, taking Cameron’s supposed statement literally, he said Swire’s scent, by which I’m assuming he means perfume (’the scent you are wearing’; strange attire for a coastal walk), is causing him to emit sex pheromones – or is affecting the sex pheromones he is emitting – which are having an autocrine effect on his sex drive. Whereas, if he was emitting actual pheromones, any effect would be on their recipient – in this case, Swire. Without reading her book, I’m not aware whether Swire consciously experienced any such effect – which would have occurred regardless of Cameron’s announcement.
So, did Cameron just say something dumb? Or, instead of “pheromones”, did he mean “hormones”? (Which pheromones effectively are outside the emitting body.) Or perhaps he actually said “hormones”, but was misheard or mis-transcribed by the vain Swire. Still a daft thing to say, regardless. And still a daft thing to share with the world. Her vanity conjures up an image of Cameron with his lecherous eyes fixed on her tush. His comment suggests arrogance bordering on the pussy-grabbing Trumpian. With his own wife, and Swire’s husband – his friend – in proximity, why risk it? Because of an already well-established flirtatious relationship? The comfortable knowledge of a shared sense of humour? Something else? Otherwise, why did Swire not protest offence at the time? Because she’s no better than him?
The timing is notable, being serialised in The Times the same week as the publication of the paperback edition of Cameron’s conscience-balming effort, For the Record. The poor disingenuous love has expressed concern as to the effect her self-regarding tittle-tattle might have, which Cameron is reportedly embarrassed by. He claims not to remember. I’m not sure whether this is better or worse than denial. Perhaps he should have pleaded the Fifth. But he’s entitled to express disappointment at such revelations being made by a supposed friend. I’m not aware that there’s any suggestion he tried to actually cop a feel. I’m not aware whether Swire had in any way encouraged such suggestive behaviour. And I’m not going to read her book to find out. There are three sides to every story.
We have more than enough on Cameron on which to cast judgement. When discussing his book interviewers should consider how best to go after him. Make Cameron squirm, not for flirting, but for flirting with disaster.