12 February 2007
Like fellow OE, Sam Leith in today's Telegraph, I was far more shocked at the suggestion that David Cameron was caught smoking dope at Eton and was not expelled, than by the offence itself. If anyone was caught with drugs at Eton, his feet didn't touch the floor. The boy in question would be summoned to the headmaster, Eric Anderson, who would explain that the boy's parents were already on their way to collect him. He might be escorted to his room to pack but it would certainly be stripped bare before word of his expulsion got out, even to his close friends - this was AUTOMATIC - one strike and you're out. In fact, smoking dope was the favoured route for boys who really hated the school and wanted to get out fast - the ones who were in it for the dope itself were far too careful to get caught and word rarely got out to other boys that they had some -- well no one ever offered me any (unlike at uni where you could hardly move for the stuff).
That Cameron was allowed to stay on with a relatively minor punishment and then in due course became Head of House (an important role at Eton with real perks and responsibilities) suggests that his disciplinary record cannot have been terrible, certainly not so bad as to include a drug-taking offence. So what really happened? Reports at the weekend say that Cameron was questioned about his involvement but refused to implicate any of his friends. His punishment reflects the crime of "failing to sing like a canary" far more than that imposed on someone caught in the act, so to speak. My Eton-educated guess is that he was never caught with the evil weed.
Of course, if he were to come out with this explanation - "well, yes, my friends had the dope, and I hung out with them under the arches, but I never smoked any myself because I was too afraid of the consequences/didn't know how/couldn't afford it etc etc" would destroy his credibility and make him seem like a bit of a, well, weed.