The revelations in Lady Swire's diaries about what happened to David Cameron's circle of friends and supporters have been described by some as scandalous. But let's be clear about what we should actually be shocked about.
We all have friends we gather and keep up with, from school, university, or work, but the so-called "chumocracy" that gathered around the former Prime Minister on Downing Street was different.
To me it was a cozy, self-serving clique of powerful politicians with similar views, usually from an exclusive background, whose main goal in life was to stay in their privileged magical circle and keep other people away.
The effects on the rest of us have been very detrimental indeed.
Cards on the table. My own friends also reflect my background – privileged, not in the traditional sense, but because I was fortunate enough to grow up in the age of grammar and direct scholarship schools. (My & # 39; prep school & # 39; was on an estate in Dagenham.)
The Chumocracy: The "famous-chillaxed" Prime Minister David Cameron with his Chancellor George Osborne
George Osborne, David Cameron and Emily Maitlis at the Parliamentary Awards 25th Anniversary Dinner
It was also a time when two-thirds of access to Oxford and Cambridge came from state schools and access to what we consider leading professions – law, city, medicine, diplomacy – increased. In many ways we had a far more open elite than we have today.
For me, the “scandal” of Swire's diary lies with the wife of a member of parliament: internal and external power lies less in their roughness than in their stench of claims in a supposedly democratic age.
As a former diplomat, I was impressed by the gloriously insignificant passage in which Sasha Swire says her husband Hugo should have been made Foreign Secretary – not because he was Cameron's old Etonian buddy (which is taken for granted), but because Hugo is one charming person was guy and had flown to many countries.
Prior to my career in politics, I was Principal Private Secretary to Lord Carrington, who was Secretary of State at the time. Carrington, like Cameron and Swire, was a charming Etonian.
But he was also a man of great international experience, not to mention the fact that he was an excellent tank commander in World War II, who behaved flawlessly at the outbreak of the Falklands War, taking responsibility and stepping down with honor.
As a former diplomat, I was impressed by the gloriously insignificant passage in which Sasha Swire says her husband Hugo (both pictured) should have been appointed Foreign Secretary – not because he was Cameron's old Etonian buddy (which is taken for granted), but because Hugo was a charming guy and flown to many countries
I am not appalled by Lady Swire's multiple "indiscretions". Given the pressures and pressures of public life, a little bit of behind the scenes boozing and cursing or a little lusty comment can't be considered a real scandal.
The occasional ribaldrie, like Cameron's less gallant comment on Lady Swire during a walk, that he wouldn't mind giving her one in the bushes, doesn't annoy me as much as it should.
In fact, I sympathize with his remark in a radio interview about the book that we could all be retrospectively embarrassed if someone records our private jokes.
Today's prime ministers are under far more pressure than in the past, not least from the media, and they are unlikely to relax reading nineteenth-century novels before Question Time, as Harold Macmillan did in No. 10 Has.
But the diaries are mighty revealing, not just about a few colleagues at the top of the government, but about something deeper too. There has been a dangerous narrowing at the top of society lately, and that comes out in spades.
It is not the smelly intimacy of this ruling clique that really worries, but the smallness of their world. Before he was expelled as a Brexiteer, the state-trained Michael Gove seems to have been the most meritocratic and brightest member.
Despite all of David Cameron's attempts to be friends with the public, be it by telling us he's a huge fan of The Smiths or by denying that his wife was posh because she was in the & # 39 ; Day school & # 39; (that is, one that costs £ 20,000 a year a year), these diaries remind us just as violently how contactless he and his friends were when they allegedly served the interests of the British people
Otherwise, they acted as if life and politics were an upper-caste game, one with no serious consequences, win or lose.
I am not expecting reports of in-depth intellectual exchanges with our famous "chillaxed" former Prime Minister, but neither do I expect any up / down reflections on Gove's wife, the new Mail on Sunday columnist Sarah Vine, who for the most part comes across as one who is expecting this Cook.
Humor is also a problem. Relentless jokes are one thing, and some of them are certainly funny, but what's in the modern craw is an overwhelming sense of frivolity, a sort of ultimate lightheartedness about anything and everything. Most clearly, Cameron's suggestion is that his aim was not to continue with # 10 as he did with the serious, lower-middle-class Ms. Thatcher. Apparently he wanted to go to Downing Street and out.
It is as if the peak of his ambition was not to serve as leader of his country for as long as the electorate wanted, but to have done it only once. Who can be surprised if a similar touch emanates from his old schoolmate in No. 10 today?
Then, of course, there's the little thing about Lady Swire's brazen betrayal of her closest friends and her ridiculously unconvincing show of horror at the thought of how to tease it.
Being a snob is repulsive, but there's something worse: privileged people trying to ingratiate themselves with the masses.
I suspect she would have thought of this as she was putting her material together – day after day and meticulously, rather than taking random notes as she claims. This is another matter of our elite government cliques: the way they betray each other, including old-school friends, often out of revenge or money.
Their claims are aristocratic in many ways, except that no one could accuse this crowd of being trapped in outdated codes of honor and decency.
I happen to be republishing a book called The New Elites: A Career in the Masses that I wrote 20 years ago. The elites themselves are necessary and justified, but my book argued that Britain has increasingly been led by an upper caste of anti-elitists. You see this in the dumbing down of education. In the government you can see it in the new casualness that is being flaunted by the highly educated people at the top.
Despite all of Cameron's attempts to be friends with the public, be it by telling us he's a huge fan of The Smiths, or by denying that his wife was posh for being in & # 39; day school & # 39; # 39; (that is, one that costs £ 20,000 a year a year), these diaries remind us just as violently how contactless he and his friends were when they allegedly served the interests of the British people.
Being a snob is repulsive, but there's something worse: privileged people trying to ingratiate themselves with the masses.
You see it in the government, but also in many of our actors, comedians, athletes, who have increasingly attended private schools. Well-educated, well-paid people trying to compensate for their comfortable background by left-winging, waking up, or doing more than you do.
And what Lady Swire doesn't say because she doesn't see it is that in the end it was an inner seclusion from the public that finally forced Cameron out of office after the 2016 referendum.
Lady Swire tells us of his anger and surprise when the result was announced. I understand the anger, but not the surprise. If you live your life in a cocoon full of claims, you will not feel the wind rising outside your window or how strong it is blowing.
Whether you voted to leave or to stay is not the point. What mattered was that Cameron had so little contact with real people that he couldn't imagine that he could lose because a large number of perfectly reasonable people, especially the less wealthy, were understandably concerned about immigration and had to believe that a loud no to the EU would stop it.
I described this in a book I wrote back in 2007 after a tour of the north (Time To Emigrate?). Affected by the feelings of fear, resentment and powerlessness I encountered, I warned that "abrupt change could provoke an extreme reaction" with major consequences for our country. You certainly did, not least for & # 39; Dave & # 39 ;.
George Walden's book The New Elites: A Career among the Crowds is available in Gibson Square and costs £ 9.99. To order a copy, go to mailshop.co.uk/books or call 020 3308 9193.
Diary of a social blunderbuss: the MP's wife, Sasha Swire, is not afraid to hurt people's feelings. But it is her great sense of entitlement that tickles CRAIG BROWN the most – she is barely aware of the comical absurdity of her story
After waiting for two decades to grin and endure Sasha Swire, she took revenge. The diary of a MP's wife contains a litany of abuse. Theresa May is "humorless", Tony Blair is "a slim man", Julian Fellowes is "slightly ridiculous", Jeremy Hunt is "oily", Anna Soubry is "irritating", Nadine Dorries is "crazy" and William Hague is "only ever." "interested in itself".
And so it goes on – Dominic Cummings & # 39; looks like one of those strange amoebas you find in jars in school science laboratories & # 39; Boris Johnson is & # 39; driven by jealousy & # 39 ;, Prince Charles & # 39; fingers are & # 39; such as Sausage & # 39; and Prince Andrews chaired by a group of business people is "excruciatingly painful to watch". At different times John Bercow is called "the dreaded", "the little weasel", "the little creep", "the insurrection" and "that little goblin".
Even Her Majesty the Queen gets it on the neck because she does not recognize the importance of Sasha Swire: “She fixes me briefly with her bulging eyes, then swings past and does not say a word. She tells me I'm just a plus, not a gamer or a heroine. & # 39;
In her introduction, Swire claims that "I never wrote with the intention of publishing," although she contradicts herself two sentences later. "I can't say that the thought wasn't in the back of my mind," she writes, "but I always pushed it away because I thought my family, my husband's colleagues and friends would see it as treason." . & # 39;
After waiting for two decades to grin and endure Sasha Swire, she took revenge
Which of course is what it is. When Swire's good friend Samantha Cameron confided that she had had a large Negroni over breakfast before her husband's resignation speech, did she expect her to publish it?
"Dave has apparently withdrawn from her sodden breath," adds Sasha for a good measure.
Another friend, Amber Rudd, mentioned over lunch that for Theresa May it was like a dragon breathing down her throat … you can't talk to her like a normal person; it's just very cold. & # 39; That was where it went.
Her friend Kate Fall told her that "she ran into Sarah Vine at a party who said what a nightmare it was to live with her husband".
Scribble, scribble, scribble! Diaries are created from the ruins of broken confidentiality. Although last year, uh, uh, without thinking of publication, Swire "out of curiosity and a bit stupid" passed a few excerpts on to a top agent (luckily the same top agent who wrote Chris Mullin's diaries and Chris Mullin and Kenneth Williams and the memoirs of Ann Widdecombe).
"And before I knew it, I was caught in a publishing tornado."
For tornadoes, please read. Needless to say, it justifies the publication on feminist grounds. "I think it is very rare indeed to read a female perspective on a still male-dominated and secret world."
Oh yeah? Harriet Harman, Edwina Currie, Mo Mowlam, Barbara Castle, Shirley Williams, Margaret Hodge, Cherie Blair, Kate Fall, Christine Hamilton and Margaret Thatcher are just a few examples who have offered us the female perspective in memoirs or diaries.
Pictured in Swire's diaries, Dominic Cummings says, "looks like one of those strange amoeba you find in jars in school science laboratories."
“I regret offending someone … I can imagine that some entries could offend without doing so. If so, I apologize. & # 39; She is insincere.
In her February 28, 2017 post, she notes that David Cameron is hard at work on an autobiography. Never backwards forwards, it offers a warning. "Of course, it won't exactly fly off the shelves if he's not ready to pay his bills and do his dirty laundry in public, and I doubt he will as he's too big a gentleman."
I wonder if Swire will apologize to her own daughters.
She couldn't be equal to Edwina Currie, who described one of her daughters in her diaries as "hard as nails" and the other as "as shallow and trivial" and even challenged one of them for illegal underage sex.
Even so, young Siena Swire is unlikely to be delighted with her mother telling the world about her crying or “unhealthy obsession” with Jamie Laing of Made In Chelsea, who chases the king up and down a passage on the street, so is her great love for him & # 39 ;.
On the other hand, while discretion is the better part of bravery, it is the worst part of a journal.
"What is more boring than a discreet diary?" asked the great political diary writer Chips Channon.
Former Home Secretary for Labor David Blunkett once published an 850-page diary after first cutting out something personal: It was one of the most boring books I have ever read.
The depicted Samantha and David Cameron are heavily mentioned in the controversial book
The self-portrait emerging from Swire's diaries is a social blunderbuss, one of those irritating people who like to say the wrong thing. Regarding her relationship with David Cameron, she ponders: “He likes me because I'm not remotely nervous around him. I'm cheeky, indecent, and a little too challenging at times. & # 39;
And how! At a big dinner at Checkers, she shouts to Cameron that his plans for Syria are all wrong. When Francis Maude complains to her that Theresa May is "so boring and gray", she replies: "Pot calls Kessel black, Francis. You were the boring politician of the century."
At a formal dinner at # 10, she says to Boris Johnson, "You can't serve this food, it's gross."
She has a perverse predilection for making people uncomfortable. In 2010 she sits next to the Countess of Wessex at an official dinner.
"Well, I bet he didn't tell you he was royal when he married you."
She looks at me confused. “I knew he was a king, of course I did. What do you mean by that? & # 39;
& # 39; It was a joke! & # 39;
& # 39; Oh. & # 39;
She later concludes that Sophie Wessex is "definitely sad". But the poor woman would probably only have smiled if she'd been seated next to someone else.
On the other hand, the best journalists were always gossip, eager and ready to hurt people's feelings.
At various times, as shown, John Bercow is referred to as "the dreaded", "the little weasel", "the little creep", "the insurrection" and "that little goblin".
Swire was clearly influenced by the brilliantly witty diaries of Thatcher Minister Alan Clark. They even share some of the same goals, including Michael Heseltine, William Hague, and the Queen. But Swire's Wasp lacks Clark's iconoclastic precision: he once complained about Her Majesty's "sullen and immoral traits".
Given that her role was subordinate to someone who was subordinate to himself, many of Swire's anecdotes are inevitably second or even third hand. As the diaries go on, it becomes increasingly clear that she was often not in the same room or even in the same country when the events she described occurred. Instead, she just scribbled down the anecdotes her husband Hugo told her when he returned from this or that meeting.
Did he know she wrote everything down? Judging by the dedication of the book "To Hugo – Sorry!" it doesn't seem.
Regardless of what you may have read in the newspapers, many of the diary entries are boring: Holidays in Wales, patronizing remarks (“I always find Amber so politically naive”) and traditional political overviews (“the fragmentation”) of British politics moving on ahead … & # 39;). She also offers her own predictions, most of which over time will no longer exist. Before the 2017 election, she predicts that Theresa May "will go" and that "Boris is clearly not a waiting leader".
The book is more successful than an insightful portrait of a posh public school community that found itself in a strange throwback to the 1950s with the keys to # 10.
"We are like children in a candy store," she writes of those early days.
In another twist, she has such an innate sense of entitlement that she is largely unaware of the full comic absurdity of her narrative. Her diary begins when Cameron becomes Prime Minister in 2010. Sasha and Hugo – who they optimistically referred to as "known in political circles for his charm and humor" – were shopping for antiques when Dave received a call offering him a job as Northern Irish minister. For the rest of the day Hugo keeps asking her to repeat the words "Yes, Minister" because "he likes the tone".
In Northern Ireland the problems have only just begun. Swire is horrified to find that two curtains have been wiped away by the Secretary of State's wife in her swanky new apartment in Hillsborough Castle. "I don't care who she is, it's bad manners!" says Swire. "I'll go straight up in this case!" Without further ado, she calls number 10.
Even Her Pictured Majesty the Queen gets it on the neck for not recognizing the importance of Sasha Swire
Later, when Hugo was transferred to the Foreign Office, he was approached by another minister. “You couldn't give me South America, could you, old boy? You know my wife is from Venezuela. “The vigorous scratching of the back continues throughout his career and beyond.
After Hugo's ministerial days were over, Alan Duncan said en passant that he was bringing his name forward as the prime minister's trade ambassador for the Pacific Alliance. Nothing will come of it, but don't worry. "Hugo currently has a fairly long list of directorships and chairmen," notes Swire.
The right to privilege permeates the book: Swire regularly complains that her father, former Secretary of Defense Sir John Nott, was never elevated to the House of Lords, and that her husband, an old Etonian, was expelled from the cabinet in an absurd tendency toward women and members of ethnic minorities.
But everything remains very chummy. She looks around the 2011 Camerons party and concludes that the closeness of that circle is unprecedented. They are all here, those who eat, drink, celebrate together, they are all closely connected … We all go on vacation together, stay in each other's homes of grace and favor, our children play together, we write one another Text and bypass the officers. & # 39;
Five years later, for no clear reason, Cameron rewards Hugo with a knighthood in his Resignation Honors. There's a bit of Hullabaloo in the press. "I don't know what all the fuss is about," complains Swire. "Why can't Dave unwrap the list with his cronies when he wants to?"
Despite Hugo's apparently well-known charm and humor, he looks more like an amiable Klutz – Mr. Bean from the Foreign Office.
In South Korea he presses the wrong buttons on the toilet and shows up showered with water. He opens a school sports center in Shanghai and falls to the ground when the fireworks go off. He thinks he's under attack.
At home, he mixes his breath freshener and lens cleaning fluid and complains that his glasses are permanently fogged up and his mouth tastes weird. Swire dutifully records all of these pitfalls. Could these diaries be an unconscious act of revenge?
It turns out that Sir Hugo's main claim to fame is that in his youth he had brief contact with someone who was very glamorous. This is certainly what interests Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
"Hugo!" At dinner # 10, he shouts across the table to leave the MPs, "Did you fuck Jerry Hall?"
If so, then he's not only connected to Mick Jagger, but also to Rupert Murdoch and maybe through Wendy Deng with Tony Blair. Well, chivalries were spent on less.
Angry Tory activists accuse Sasha Swire of “betraying friends” with her political memoir
Ex-Minister Hugo Swire's wife has been accused by angry Tory activists in his former constituency of “betraying” friends with her indiscretion-intensive memoirs.
Sasha Swire's anthology – Diary of the MP's Wife: Inside And Outside Power – lifts the lid on sex and political gimmicks in the party, describing David Cameron as "drunken Dave" with a dirty mouth, Boris Johnson as "calculating" and Theresa May as "Glumbucket".
Lady Swire, 57, posted her diaries to a publisher last year after her husband retired as an East Devon MP.
Last night, Maddy Chapman, a Conservative district councilor for 12 years, said local party members were "absolutely disgusted" at the way she had broken the trust of friends.
Sasha Swire, pictured with husband Hugo, has been accused by angry Tory activists in his former constituency of “betraying” friends with her indiscretionary memoir
"She has shown herself for what she is," said Ms. Chapman. & # 39; She has absolutely no class.
& # 39; This was not at all well received in the constituency. Everyone I speak to is less than impressed and some, including myself, are downright disgusted.
& # 39; Sasha Swire never mingled within the local community, not even within our local party.
"I suspect a lot of people will cross the Swires off their Christmas card lists."
In Lady Swire's memoir, she reveals how David and Samantha Cameron drowned their worries after the Brexit vote.
She shares how she visited the Camerons for a weekend at their Oxfordshire home after the 2016 referendum. She claims that the then Prime Minister asked her husband to bring "two fat Cohibas (Cuban cigars) and lots of alcohol" and chewed "cigars" over "endless bottles of wine".
And she adds that Ms. Cameron had to muster some Dutch courage before joining her husband for his resignation speech, feeling unable to do so "without drinking a great Negroni".
She also says that Mr Cameron told her former Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, that he had a two-way mirror in his bedroom.
"I sit next to Dave at dinner," she writes. “He gives us wonderful vignettes of the Sarkozy's forged marital depictions and shows Berlusconi visiting Rome's equivalent no.
"When they walk into his bedroom, he points to a two-way Renaissance mirror over the bed and says with his characteristic grin," Well, they didn't have any porn channels back then, did they? "& # 39;
She withers from Boris Johnson and writes: "It scares me that people don't see (Mr. Johnson) as the adding machine he really is," and she describes Mr. Johnson's fiancée Carrie Symonds as his & # 39; name young vixen & # 39 ;.
She has nicknames for many older Tories. Former Prime Minister Theresa May is "Old Ma May", George Osborne is "Boy George", while Foreign Minister Dominic Raab is "Raab C Brexit".
Herr Cameron hat zugegeben, dass die Tagebücher, die nächste Woche erscheinen sollen, "irgendwie peinlich" waren.
(tagsToTranslate) Dailymail (t) Debatte (t) Downing Street (t) David Cameron