Piggate: is it really that important?

Lord Ashcroft’s explosive accusations about British Prime Minister David Cameron really are the stuff that tabloid dreams are made of.

David Cameron

The claims do not need to be repeated here and now: quite frankly, you’d have to be living under a sizeable rock to not have heard about what the Conservative Party leader is alleged to have done during his University years.

But whether it proves to be true or not, the media’s lapped it up. Headlines including phrases such as “porky pies” and “piggy-in-the-middle” abounded, while social media went absolutely wild for it.

Hashtags including #Hameron and #piggate started trending shortly after The Daily Mail first published the allegations, as users flocked to social channels to share jokes, photoshopped images and unfortunate snaps of the PM.

And then Charlie Brooker, creator of Channel 4′s Black Mirror series, took to the Twittersphere with his comical take on the situation, with the allegations echoing a 2011 episode of the fictional show to an eerie degree.

Regardless of whether it’s fact or fiction, the story has everything that the media could possibly want: scandal; the opportunity to mock, ridicule and belittle a public figure in a significant position of power; and best of all, a target that is very unlikely to respond in any official capacity – as PRWeek reports, it’s expected that Cameron will ‘ride out’ Ashcroft’s recent claims.

But while the media and general public alike continue to descend on this story and our country’s political leader remains on the receiving end of barbed jibes left, right and centre … aren’t we missing the bigger picture here?

Metro

Just three weeks ago, the above image appeared on the front pages of newspapers around the globe. It shocked the world.

Have we all forgotten that less than a month has passed since hordes of impassioned UK citizens were targeting the Prime Minister for a far more important reason – to lend swift and effective support, as a country, to help ease the Syrian refugee crisis?

The dreadful sight of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi, washed up not far from Turkey’s fashionable resort of Bodrum, is a photograph that I will never forget as long as I live. And I’m sure there are millions around the world that feel exactly the same.

While the UK Government has made some small tentative steps to address this dreadful situation, this is far from over and much more needs to be done.

Organisations such as Home For Good, MOAS, the British Red Cross and UNHCR UK are taking positive measures to enable UK citizens to proactively look to help the men, women and children who are currently fleeing for their lives.

But the media also has a responsibility.

The media needs to remain focused on what is important, and to continue to apply pressure to our political leaders on issues that actually matter.

There’s a time and a place for sensationalist stories and crude humour in journalism, of course, and we all need a bit of light relief now and again.

But right now, this humanitarian crisis is where our focus should all be, regardless of what side of the political fence we find ourselves sitting on.

The Government’s responsibility to face up to this is no laughing matter. So enough with the pig jokes, already.