David Cameron's select committee appearance over Greensill affair was a masterclass in spin that betrays the extent of UK's political chumocracy – Ayesha Hazarika

David Cameron’s appearance in front of an MPs’ committee was a masterclass in spin, bluster and chutzpah.

David Cameron has denied any wrongdoing over his lobbying of the UK government on behalf of Greensill Capital (Picture: House of Commons/PA)

He got off to a flying start by exceeding his allocated amount of time by trotting out a soliloquy which left the eye of every committee member bone dry to the point of irritation as it ate into their precious time for questioning.

Hey. This was their big day too. Hair had been washed. Cameron always was and remains an impressive performer whether at the despatch box or in front of a select committee.

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He was slick, polished and lacking in any self-awareness or embarrassment. Millions of women and minorities would ache for the confidence of Cameron.

My stand-out moment was when he repeated solemnly that the fact he had millions at stake was in no way the reason why he went into textual overdrive which Angela Eagle aptly described as “stalking".

No, the frenzied lobbying was all because he had this altruistic burning desire to offer a great solution in the form of an app for NHS staff which gave off weird Wonga-meets-Fyre-Festival vibes.

The Prime Minister who effectively cut nurses pay and bursaries is now their patron saint. Move over Florence Nightingale. I was praying for someone to ask the Mrs Merton question. “Dave love… what was it about losing millions which suddenly turned you into a one-man lobbying machine?”

That will be the lasting memory of this scandal, but it goes beyond Cameron. How did someone a former Prime Minister think it was totally OK to use his personal government contacts in this way during a pandemic?

It points to all which is wrong in an entitled, arrogant, cosy, political chumocracy. This is one leg of a bigger scandal involving PPE contracts, cronyism and access to the gilded VIP lane where proximity to the Conservative party delivers rich rewards.

It also highlights the cringe David Brent, middle-aged boys network we all know, especially women who work in politics or public affairs, built on bravado, misplaced self-confidence and buzzwords like “Fintech” and “AI” which are catnip to other middle-aged men.

Also, we need to be honest. There were not a lot of women getting loved-bombed by Cameron which shows the true nature of power: white, posh dudes who move in the same circles and who may have once done a bike ride together for charidee where someone wore a dress. Hilair. Lobbying the government and those in power is a fundamental part of democracy but it must be in the public interest and not to feather your own nest.

There must be stricter rules around transparency which cover all aspects, especially in-house lobbying. This isn’t anti-business. I do think it’s important for government to draw expertise from the private sector, as the vaccine roll-out proved, but it’s also important to listen to other voices like charities or trade unions. They don’t get the access that Cameron had.

You can argue that for all his efforts, nothing came of it, but the fact he was supremely confident he had a shot and thought it was perfectly normal behaviour for an ex-Prime Minister should trouble us all. Today was mortifying for Call Me Dave. But his actions speak to a much broader, rotten culture of nepotism and corruption which needs to be addressed.

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