Out there in her own intolerant and authoritarian world, Melanie Phillips keeps on painting an apocalyptic picture of what the world would supposedly look like if currently illegal drugs were to have their use decriminalised, or even be made legal. For Mel, this is to be resisted at all costs, and one cost that she is prepared to sacrifice is that of factual accuracy.
In her latest rantfest for the Daily Mail’s RightMinds – an example of a paper putting all its frothing wingnuts together in one big e-dustbin – Mel tries to revise the recent history of drug policy initiatives, while pretending that there is no longer a “war on drugs” as the authorities are not pursuing it to her satisfaction, which means locking up tens of thousands of people while not mentioning the enormous cost.
This paragraph from Phillips bears quoting in full: “There is a failure of policing on the ground disastrously amplified by lethally idiotic decriminalisation mood music constantly tinkling from the great and the un-good who, for a variety of different reasons including the less than intellectually rigorous desire to prevent their own drug-taking offspring from accruing criminal records, are incapable of doing anything other than parrot drug legalisation propaganda” [my emphasis].
Not for nothing is she known as Mad Mel: the suggestion that some of those urging a reappraisal of current drugs policy are doing so merely to stop their family members getting nicked is as malicious as it is unfounded. She will not be bringing forward one scrap of evidence, as she does not have any. This is the kind of batshit paranoia that earned the Spectator a huge legal bill and Mel the sack.
Her attempt to paint the decriminalisation of drugs in Portugal is also misguided and selective in its source (just the one for most of the assertions made): the Association for a Drug Free Portugal is part of the World Federation Against Drugs, a network opposed to any kind of legalisation. The statistics given in support of the Association do not match the mainstream narrative.
This is typified by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), whose Country Overview for Portugal is worth a look. The picture is, as ever, complex, but many trends have shown a decline since decriminalisation. This, though, does not detain Mel, who instead resorts to personal abuse as she tries to discredit those of insufficiently authoritarian disposition.
Moreover, she fails utterly to address the fact that control of the trade in currently illegal drugs has been ceded to organised criminality, while making the flagrantly dishonest assertion that “the only way to end the criminal black market in drugs ... would be to make all narcotics available absolutely free and ... on unlimited demand”, which is pure bullshit. This issue demands a mature and rational debate, which Melanie Phillips is signally incapable of joining.