Posts Tagged ‘Matthew Parris’

The Tories and the War on Drugs

June 16, 2019

There’s been some amusement to be had this past week with various leading Tories coming out and admitting to having used drugs. Michael Gove confessed to having snorted cocaine, and Rory Stewart admitted that he’d smoked opium once, 20 odd years ago, when he was backpacking around Iran. It was at a wedding. He claimed that it couldn’t have affected him much, as he was walking 25 – 30 miles a day. My guess is that in reality he’d have been stoned out of his tiny patrician brain. It’s generally the lean, fit people, who are most affected by intoxicants, as you can see by all the tales about champion marathon runners and other athletes, who become massively drunk when they celebrate with half a pint of booze afterwards. Then there’s Paul Staines of the Guido Fawkes blog. He hasn’t come out of the stoner closet, but he was notorious as a Libertarian for taking and advocating DMT as a mind-expanding drug. My guess is that he’d need it. As a member of an organisation that was so right-wing, it invited the leader of one of Rios Montt’s death squads from El Salvador to be their guest of honour at their annual dinner, Staines would need some powerful hallucinogenics to convince himself he was a decent human being.

Boris is also widely suspected of having done drugs, and it’s almost certain that the allegations are true, and of continuing to use them. But he hasn’t confessed to it. When asked whether he had at a press conference about his candidacy for the Tory leadership, he brushed the question aside by claiming that he thought the British public were more interested in what he intended to do as politician than whether he took illegal substances. He might be right for some people. We’re so used to public figures, like actors, rock stars and other media celebrities, coming forward to admit that they took drugs some time in their lives, that it almost seems unremarkable. In some parts of the entertainment industry, it’s even to be expected, as with tales of pop musicians, which have become part of the general pattern of rock excess. However, Boris’ own political career isn’t any recommendation for him as Prime Ministerial material either. He’s been so egotistical and massively incompetent that many people would have to take large amounts of illegal chemicals to be persuaded otherwise.

Author’s impression of Theresa May with potential voter.

There’s more than a little fun to be had out of all this furore. Some wag with a better grasp of video editing than yours truly could provide us all with a laugh by cutting their speeches with bits from notorious films about drugs from the past. Like the 1950s anti-cannabis film, Reefer Madness, or David Cronenberg’s ’90s flick, The Naked Lunch, based on the notorious book by William S. Burroughs. This latter film is roughly based on Burrough’s own life, and is about a pest exterminator, who gets high on the ketamine he’s using to kill the insects. As the drug takes effect, he hallucinates that he’s some kind of SF spy, and has to make his report to Interzone before flying to Morocco after accidentally shooting his wife while they were playing William Tell. The hallucinations include the hero seeing everyone in a bar as mugwumps – humanoid lizards – and a gay talking typewriter-beetle. You could have some fun showing Boris sitting down to type his statement for the leadership election, but showing the hands of Cronenberg’s hero typing away at the beetle creature. Though as the beetle-typewriter then goes on to declare how wonderful homosexuality is, this scene might not be appropriate. The Tories have declared themselves at ease with the gay community, and no-one could ever accuse Boris of it. Another excellent film candidate for mixing with the Tory leadership speeches would be Terry Gilliam’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, based on the book by Hunter S. Thompson, illustrated by Ralph Steadman. Which also has a bar full of hallucinatory lizards, bats coming down out of the desert sky, and Richard Nixon erupting out of a TV set, amongst other bizarre visions.

But there’s also a very serious side to all this. The great commenters on Mike’s blog, when he covered this story, made some very good points about these people’s hypocrisy. They’ve all done drugs, and got away scot-free, in contrast to more ordinary users, who’d been to jail. One commenter told how he had a friend, who now suffers from PTSD because of what he’d experienced in prison after being convicted of a drugs offence. And the whole affair also seems to me to be a replay of a similar scandal back in 2004, when a number of other Tories confessed to having used cannabis.

The furore was started when Anne Widdecombe announced that she wanted harsher sentences for drugs, quite at variance with the party stance on the issue at the time. A number of Tories then came forward to announce that they’d taken it. Matthew Parris then gave his view about it all in an article he wrote for the Spectator. One Tory revealed that he had smoked cannabis at Oxford. This didn’t shock Parris, who was far more outraged by the way the august gentleman had consumed it. Parris declared that he could have been smoking cowpats for all he cared. What offended him was that the pretentious so and so had put it in his pipe. He smoked a pipe! It’s something you can imagine Rees-Mogg, the MP for the 18th century, doing. If he were inclined towards the substances used by Thomas De Quincy and Coleridge, of course.

This came at the time the government was considering changing its policy towards drug abuse. Much had been in the news about the success the Scandinavian countries, Portugal and Switzerland had achieved in their battle with illegal drugs, in contrast with Britain’s failure to combat or contain its growing drugs problem. These nations had a softer approach to tackling drug abuse. Addicts were treated not as criminals, but as sick people, who needed to be helped. But this was too namby-pamby for Widdecombe and those like her. Parris wrote that this had also been the policy in Britain, and had been giving positive results. But it all changed with the election of Ronald Reagan. Reagan wanted a war on drugs, and as American’s ally and the Special Relationship, we had to follow suit. The result was harsher sentences for drug offences, which actually had a negative effect on what they were trying to achieve. Treating drug addiction as a sickness makes sense, as no-one wants to be sick so they seek help. Criminalizing it, however, gives it a kind of glamour. You ain’t sick, you’re gangsta! Public enemy No. 1. And so far from deterring people from using drugs, the policy actually helps to promote it.

And then there’s the racism of the War on Drugs. Hillary Clinton deliberately played on White American fears of Black criminality when she announced Clinton’s new, tougher policies on drugs back in the 1990s. She talked about ‘superpredators’ – at the time, a term that was only used about Black men. The laws were also framed so that it targeted Blacks rather than Whites. Although studies have shown that Whites are just as likely to use drugs as Blacks, the majority of those arrested and convicted are Black. And I suspect that the situation is similar over here. Certainly it’s been clear to me from talking to Black friends that they believe that Blacks suffer disproportionately harsher punishment than White drug abusers. I know many Blacks, who won’t touch the stuff, and they make the point very clear to Whites trying to encourage them to do so.

It seems very clear to me that we need a return to a saner, more effective drugs policy. One that discourages it as it helps the victims by treating it as a disease, rather than giving it a spurious glamour it doesn’t deserve by criminalizing it. A policy that punishes and cures White and Black equally, instead of playing to White fears and racism.

But for me, the most toxic drug not mentioned in the Tory leadership contest is Conservatism. This has destroyed whole communities, and comprehensive wrecked Britain, creating poor healthcare, unemployment, despair, depression and general poor mental health, all while fostering racism, bigotry and bitter resentment against the poor, disabled and marginalised. It has done this while creating illusions of prosperity and national greatness. It’s time it was stopped. The pushers of this vile drug – Johnson, Gove, Leadsom and the rest of them – should be properly punished by losing any and every election they take part in. And the literature that encourages this vile drug – the Times, Torygraph, Mail, Sun and Express, should be binned at once and readers should turn to proper news outlets.

Only then can we look forward to a saner society, less afflicted by drugs.

Aaron Bastani of Novara Media Exposes BBC Anti-Labour Bias

March 16, 2019

The Beeb has been hit with several scandals recently about its right-wing bias, and particularly about the very slanted debates and the selection of the guests and panel in Question Time. Members of the audience have been revealed as UKIP and Tory plants, the panels frequently consist of four members of the right against only one left-winger, chair Fiona Bruce intervenes to support Conservative speakers and repeat right-wing falsehoods. When she and other members of staff aren’t making jokes for the audience against Diane Abbott, of course.

In this eleven minute video from Novara Media, presenter Aaron Bastani exposes the anti-Labour, anti-socialist bias across BBC news programming. He begins with Brexit, and a radio interview by Sarah Montague of the Beeb’s World at One and Labour’s John Trickett. Trickett talks about how they’ve been to Europe, and suggests changing the red lines and forming a consensus. He is interrupted by Montague, who tells him that May’s deal has been struck, and gives Labour the customs union they want. She asks him why Labour would not support it. Bastani points out that the government is not in favour of a customs union. If they were, the Irish backstop would not be an issue. Does Montague not know this, or is she laying a trap for the opposition when now, more than ever, it is the government that needs to be held to account.

The Beeb’s Emily Barnett asked a simply question of Labour’s Emily Thornberry the same day. Barnett states that the EU have said that it’s May’s deal, and asks her if she has any evidence that they’re open to another deal. Thornberry replies with the letter Labour had written to the EU, with its entirely viable suggestions. Barnett repeats that they aren’t supported by the EU. Thornberry responds by saying that Michel Barnier said that it was an entirely reasonable way they could have negotiations. Bastani points out that Barnett’s assertions aren’t true. Guy Verhofstadt, Michel Barnier and Donald Tusk have all welcomed Labour’s suggestions. Tusk even told May that Corbyn’s plan could break the deadlock.

Bastani states that it isn’t just on radio that there’s bias, where basic facts are not mentioned or denied and where there is a great emphasis to hold Labour to account than the government. He then goes on to discuss the edition of Newsnight on Tuesday, the day before those two radio broadcasts, where presenter Emily Maitlis talked to the Tories’ Nadim Zahawi and Labour’s Barry Gardiner. This was the evening when May’s withdrawal agreement was voted down for the second time, but it looked like there was a tag-team effort between Maitlis and Zahawi against Gardiner. He then plays the clip of Maitlis challenging Gardiner about what will be on Labour’s manifesto. Gardner replies that it will all be discussed by the party, which will decide what will be put in the manifesto. Maitlis rolls her eyes and then she and Zahawi join in joking about how this is ‘chaos’. Bastani says that the eye roll was unprofessional, and states that the Guardian talked about it because it was anti-Labour.  He goes on to describe how Maitlis has form in this. In 2017 she tweeted a question about whether the Labour party still had time to ditch Corbyn. She’s not impartial and, when push comes to shove, doesn’t have much time for democracy. He plays a clip of her asking a guest at one point does democracy become less important than the future prosperity of the country.

Bastani goes on to discuss how the Beeb had a live feed outside parliament during the Brexit vote. This was, at one point, fronted by Andrew Neil, who had as his guests Ann McElroy from the Economist, Julia Hartley-Brewer and Matthew Parris. He submits that this biased panel, followed by Maitlis’ eye roll and the shenanigans the next day by Barnett shows that the Beeb’s current affairs output simply isn’t good enough.

He then moves on to Question Time with its terrible audience and panel selection. He says that there is an issue about right-wing activists not only getting access to the audience, but to the audience question, but on last week’s edition with Owen Jones the rightists asked five questions. Bastani states that the purpose of Question Time is to show what the public thinks beyond the Westminster bubble. But if the audience is infiltrated to such an extent, then what’s the point. He also argues that it isn’t just the audience that’s the problem. You frequently see the panel set up four to one against the left. There may be some centrist figures like the economist Jurgen Meyer, who voted Tory, but in terms of people supporting a broken status quo against socialists, it is anything but a fair fight. And almost always there’ll be a right-wing populist voice on the panel, whether it be Isobel Oakeshott, Nick Ferrari, Julia Hartley-Brewer, and their function is simple. It’s to drag the terms of the debate to the right. You almost never see someone from the left performing the same role.

He goes on to discuss how some people believe that since in 2017 election, the Beeb has recognised some of its failing and tried to correct them. Forty per cent of the electorate is barely represented in our television and our newspapers. Bastani states that he finds the changes so far just cosmetic. You may see the odd Novara editor here and there – and here he means the very able Ash Sarkar – but the scripts, the producers, the news agendas, what is viewed as important, have not changed. This is because they still view Corbynism a blip. They still think, despite Brexit, Trump, the rise of the SNP and transformations in the Labour party and the decay of neoliberalism, that things will go back to normal. This is not going to happen as the economic basis of Blairism – the growth that came out of financialisation and a favourable global economic system and inflated asset prices – was a one-off. This was the basis for centrist policies generally, which is why the shambolic re-run with the Independent Group is bound to fail. And there is also something deeper going on in the Beeb’s failure to portray the Left, its activists and policies accurately. Before 2017 the Beeb found the left a joke. They would have them on to laugh at. In June 2017, for a short period, it looked like it had changed. But now we’ve seen the Beeb and the right close ranks, there is class consciousness amongst the establishment, who recognise the danger that the Left represents. They don’t want them on.

The radical left, says Bastani, has made all of the right calls over the last 15-20 years. You can see that in innumerable videos on social media with Bernie Sanders in the 1980s, Jeremy Corbyn in the Iraq demonstrations in 2003, or even Tony Benn. They got everything right since 2000. They were right on foreign policy, right on the idiocy of Iraq, right about Blairism, as shown by the collapse of 2008. They were right about austerity and about the public at large being profoundly p***ed off. mainstream print and broadcast journalists missed all of this. They want to be proved right on at least one of these things, which means they have a powerful incentive to prevent Corbyn coming to power and creating an economy that’s for the many, not the few. Corbyn represents a threat to Maitlis and her colleagues, because it’s just embarrassing for them to be wrong all the time.

This is a very good analysis of the Beeb’s bias from a Marxist perspective. In Marxism, the economic structure of society determines the superstructure – its politics and culture. So when Blair’s policies of financialisation are in operation and appear to work, Centrism is in vogue. But when that collapses, the mood shifts to the left and centrist policies are doomed to fail. There are many problems with Marxism, and it has had to be considerably revised since Marx’s day, but the analysis offered by Bastani is essentially correct.

The Beeb’s massive right-wing bias is increasingly being recognised and called out. Barry and Savile Kushner describe the pro-austerity bias of the Beeb and media establishment in their book, Who Needs the Cuts? Academics at Glasgow and Edinburgh universities have shown how Conservatives and financiers are twice as like to be asked to comment on the economy on the Beeb as Labour MPs and trade unionists. Zelo Street, amongst many other blogs, like Vox Political, Evolve Politics, the Canary and so on, have described the massive right-wing bias on the Beeb’s news shows, the Daily Politics, Question Time and Newsnight. And Gordon Dimmack posted a video last week of John Cleese showing Maitlis how, out of 33 European countries polled, Britain ranked 33rd in its trust of the press and media, with only 23 per cent of Brits saying they trusted them. Now that 23 per cent no doubt includes the nutters, who believe that the Beeb really is left-wing and there is a secret plan by the Jews to import Blacks and Asians to destroy the White race and prevent Jacob Rees-Mogg and Boris Johnson getting elected. But even so, this shows a massive crisis in the journalistic establishment. A crisis which Maitlis, Bruce, Barnett, Montague, Kuensberg, Robinson, Pienaar, Humphries and the rest of them aren’t helping by repeating the same tired tactics of favouring the Tories over the left.

They discrediting the Beeb. And it’s becoming very clear to everyone.

Vox Political: Tories Turn on BoJo

March 28, 2016

Mike over at Vox Political has also put up another story, reporting how the Conservatives have finally got fed up with Boris Johnson. Matthew Parris, who was formerly one of Thatcher’s aides, attacked the Mayor of London in his column in the Times, writing

Somebody has to call a halt to the gathering pretence that if only you’re sufficiently comical in politics you can laugh everything off.

Incompetence is not funny. Policy vacuum is not funny. A careless disregard for the truth is not funny. Advising old mates planning to beat someone up is not funny. Abortions and gagging orders are not funny. Creeping ambition in a jester’s cap is not funny. Vacuity posing as merriment, cynicism posing as savviness, a wink and a smile covering for betrayal … these things are not funny.

Some of these issues are decades old. The reference to Boris advising his old mates on beating people up is about a scandal that occurred over ten years ago now, when Boris told his old chum Darius Guppy how he could go about beating up another man Guppy felt had double-crossed him. Ian Hislop took Johnson to task for it, when the Blonde Buffoon appeared on Have I Got News For You all that time ago. I think it was so long ago, that Angus Deayton might actually have been in the chair. Johnson also got his mistress pregnant, then forced her to have an abortion. In America, this would have effectively ended many a politicians career, as it would have over here at one time. But definitely not in today’s more liberal, and also more cynical, attitude towards sex and politics.

None of this, not even Boris’ reputation as a bumbling oaf, has ever cause the Tories any problems before. Far from it. For all his inane public persona – the apparent physical clumsiness, that has seen him amongst other things lock himself out of his house when confronting the press in the morning, the strange archaic mannerisms of speech and attitude that hark back more to the Victorian and Edwardian periods than the slick politics of today – the venality and cavalier attitude to sexual morality – have never presented any problems to the Tory party up to now. Boris was the editor of the Spectator, appeared as the good-natured butt of the joke of Have I Got News For You, and, despite having to apologise to Liverpool for something one of his columnists wrote, was genuinely popular – at least to that part of the British public that didn’t wish to peek beyond the bluff, apparently affable exterior.

In private, the man is allegedly not so affable. He’s supposed to have a vicious temper. He is also very obviously keenly ambitious. That in itself really isn’t remarkable, nor is his political rivalry with Cameron. Denis Healey has said that in politics, you have to remember that your opponents are on the opposite benches, but your enemies are in your own party. And lies and cynicism aren’t remotely confined to BoJo. They run all the way down through the Tory party, as well as the Blairite faction of Labour.

What’s really behind Parris’ attack on Boris is the fact that BoJo’s a loose cannon. The statement that about ‘policy vacuum’ looks like it really means that he won’t toe a consistent party line, and certainly not that of David Cameron. As for the cynicism, this seems to me to be motivated by BoJo throwing his lot in with the Brexit campaign, despite having said that he was against it, and for Britain remaining in Europe. The Tories are deeply divided on the issue of the European Union, and Boris is making this worse by exploiting it for his own political advantage. He wants to topple Cameron and be the next PM. And he’s ready to tear the Tory party apart if it suits him.

Which is fine by me, and a lot of people, if the infighting help to stop the Tories winning elections, and inflicting more pain and suffering on the poor and working people of this country.

Mike’s article is at http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/03/27/the-tide-of-tory-thinking-turns-against-johnson/. Go and read it for his view of this latest clash of personalities.

Vox Political: Tories Suppressed Reasonable Drug Policy, Lib Dems Claim

December 29, 2014

Mike over at Vox Political has a piece on the departure of the Lib Dem minister, Norman Baker, from the Home Office. Baker threw in his job the department because he believed that it was blocking a genuinely reasonable and effective policy to combat drug addiction. The article’s title is Tories turned down ‘reasonable and practical’ drugs policy proposals – Baker, and it’s at http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2014/12/27/tories-turned-down-reasonable-and-practical-drugs-policy-proposals-baker/. It begins

Norman Baker, the Liberal Democrat who quit his Home Office job earlier this year claiming it was “like walking through mud”, has released details of proposed drugs policy reforms that he says Home Secretary Theresa May suppressed.

When he left, he said the will “to take forward rational evidence-based policy” had been in “short supply”, referring in particular to a Home Office report published in October, which found “no obvious” link between tough penalties and levels of illegal drug use.

He has now outlined his backing for three suggestions which he said the Home Office had drawn up:
◾Treating addicts with prescribed heroin under clinical supervision
◾A “Portuguese model” in which those who commit minor drug offences are offered treatment rather than facing criminal charges
◾Medicinal use of cannabis for certain conditions.

This isn’t the first time the Lib Dems have criticised the government for its policy on drugs. There is a section of the Lib Dems that periodically calls for the legalisation of cannabis. This has been debated on and off since I was at school. It even had some support from senior police officers. I can remember when this was debated back in 1983 or so when Thatcher was the elected dictator a chief constable saying he didn’t object to its legalisation. He tried it, and all it made him do was giggle.

Dangers of Cannabis Use

Cannabis does have its dangers, just like nearly every other kind of drug. Unlike heroin, it is not physically addictive. Excessive use may cause ‘cannabis psychosis’, where the user is tipped over into a form of insanity, though I know some mental health workers, who dispute this. It can also cause sterility in boys, who smoke it before puberty.

Medical Benefits of Cannabis

It’s significant here that Baker has not called for its blanket legalisation, only for its medical use to be legalised. This is perfectly reasonable, as cannabis has been known to be an effective treatment for the pain from MS, certain forms of arthritis and some people have found that it helps reduce the nausea from chemotherapy for cancer. There is therefore quite a strong case for its use as a medical drug, under strict supervision.

Benefits of Heroin vs. Methadone for Addicts

As for treating heroin addicts with that drug, again under medical supervision, this sounds shocking but is actually also entirely reasonable. Years ago I attended a computer course at one of Bristol’s FE colleges. One week it was running a drugs education campaign, in which members of one of the anti-drugs organisations wandered around attempting to persuade the students not to get involved in it. I think they were former addicts. Certainly the one I spoke to was. He told me that he believed that the current treatment of heroin addiction with methadone should be discontinued, and replaced with heroin as methadone was more harmful and more addictive than the drug it was intended to treat. It takes longer to come off methadone than it does heroin. Methadone does more damage to the system than heroin, and actually makes the user feel physically sicker than heroin. So while the use of heroin instead of methadone to treat heroin addiction seems simply wrong, even, perhaps, something of a reward for getting on the drug in the first place, like the use of marijuana for medical purposes there is actually good evidence to support it.

Matthew Parris’ Criticism of Tory Drugs Policy

There is little doubt that the current drugs policy is a shambles. Surprisingly, there’s a large section of the Tory party that actually knows this and agrees. One of them is Margaret Thatcher’s former Personal Private Secretary, Matthew Parris. Parris had got the sack from that post, after he replied to a letter addressed by an elderly lady to the Leaderene. The letter writer had complained about the poverty she was experiencing due to Maggie’s policies. Parris responded by telling her to shut up and stop complaining. The news of this got to the Mirror, and Parris got the sack. He later appeared on Radio 4 saying that his dismissal wasn’t quite like it was reported in the press, as the lady’s letter was a general rant about a number of topics, including being disturbed, so he claimed, by the noise from the local Asian children.

Parris was, however, an opponent of the government’s attempts to stamp out drug use hard through tough legal penalties. He didn’t believe it worked, and wrote an article in the arch-Tory magazine, The Spectator, explaining why. The article appeared over a decade ago now. It’s immediate cause was unilateral declaration by Anne Widdecombe that if the Tories entered government, they would come down even harder on drug use. This alarmed many others in her party, who didn’t share her opinions. There was, no doubt, a utilitarian aspect to this, as some of them may have been alarmed at the prospect of losing support from the Libertarians, who generally support drug liberalisation. Several very senior Tories came out to criticise the woman, who’s been dubbed ‘Doris Karloff’. A number even said that they’d tried cannabis themselves, and it had done them no harm. One had even smoked it in his pipe at Uni. This last revelation shocked Parris, who said that he couldn’t care less what the Conservative gentleman smoked – it could have been cowpats for all he cared. What he found shocking was that the man had smoked a pipe.

Treat Addiction as Disease, not Crime

The furore coincided with a general debate on the government’s drugs policy. It’s interesting that Baker points to the Portuguese system as a successful model for treating drug addiction. At that time in the early Noughties, the country that was held up as a suitable model for a successful drugs policy was either Switzerland or Austria. The approach, however, appears similar in that drug use and addiction is treated as a medical problem, rather than a crime. The result has been that those countries that have taken such an approach have a much lower incidence of drug addiction than Britain. Parris’ article pointed this out, and explained the reason for it. Basically, it’s the old one that if you make something a crime, then it becomes glamorous and seductive. It becomes ‘forbidden fruit’, and so some at least are drawn to it, simply because it is forbidden. If you make it a disease, which needs treatment on the other hand, it becomes much less attractive. No-one really likes being sick.

This approach was not, however, pioneered in Portugal, Austria or Switzerland. What is not mentioned in these reports, but was in Parris’ article, is that it was the system used in Britain under Ted Heath and Jim Callaghan. And according to Parris, it was beginning to pay off, with the number of addicts falling. In fact, according to Parris, the government may even have felt that they had beaten the drugs problem.

Then Maggie came along, and reversed it.

Why?

Reagan and the War on Drugs

According to Parris, Thatcher was forced to due to pressure from the Americans. Reagan had just entered the White House, and launched his ‘War on Drugs’. This was the renewed offensive against drugs, which domestically saw children encouraged to inform on their parents for smoking the weed. Internationally, it saw American troops launched into Latin American countries, like Colombia, to destroy the drug trade and the international gangs that deal in it at source. The result has been a bitter devastating war that has cost tens of thousands of lives in countries like Mexico, Nicaragua and Guatemala, and which shows no signs of stopping. The drug gangs in those countries are deeply unpleasant and responsible for truly horrific crimes and atrocities. They need and deserve to be stamped out. Military force, however, is not sufficient for this. A new approach is needed, which acts against the trade and the gangs that support it by reducing consumption in the affluent global north and west. One way of doing this is simply by reducing its attractiveness.

Conclusion: Make Drugs Less Attractive by Showing Them as Disease

Instead of looking at drugs as part of a rock ‘n ‘roll lifestyle, where young, hip rebels live fast, die young and leave a beautiful corpse, the view should be that the reality is that drugs will leave you poor, sick and dead. And due to the ravages of the chemical disease, you definitely won’t be beautiful.

From what I understand, the approach Norman Baker recommended isn’t a case of being ‘soft’ on drugs. In Portugal, Switzerland and the other countries that have adopted it, drugs are still illegal and their medical use tightly controlled. It really is a case of simply moving from treating it as a crime to a disease, which needs to be cured. This was, after all, the British policy, before Reagan decided that the troops needed to be sent in, and Maggie obediently complied.