Ever since Richard Branson put his head above the parapet with his Telegraph article stating the obvious – that the so-called “War On Drugs” has long ago failed, and that the whole issue of currently illegal substances should be dealt with as a health issue, rather than a criminal one – I’ve been waiting for the retaliation of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre.
At first, I expected him to go straight for the pundits – most likely candidate the authoritarian Melanie “not just Barking but halfway to Upminster” Phillips – but today has brought news that there is to be some softening up first, through the screaming recycling of what is not new news, to show that to stand against Branson is not only a moral position, but a Christian and hard working one.
The piece in question, “Vilified for telling the truth”, should put readers on their guard immediately: whenever the Mail says “truth”, one can be sure that, like most illegal drugs, the facts will have been significantly diluted and adulterated during manufacture. Under the by-line of Frances Hardy, we are told the story of GP Hans-Christian Raabe, who is in favour of “just saying no” to drugs.
Ms Hardy asserts that Raabe is the victim of a “witch hunt ... disseminated by internet [just like Mail Online, then] ... criticised for being a Christian ... maelstrom of accusations and insults”. Taking drugs is equated to living on benefits. But then a photo of Raabe wearing a rosette comes into view. So he’s not just a GP: he’s previously stood for the European Parliament for the Christian Peoples’ Alliance.
Moreover, Raabe is a member of the Maranatha Community, which wants to “re-establish Christian values in society”. He has briefed politicians against gay rights. He talks of a “spiritual dimension” to drug rehabilitation. In this, he has been given the unequivocal support of Mad Mel (“Gayness mandatory in schools”) and Mail hack James Slack (“Hallelujah! Family life can beat addiction”).
But all this – together with Raabe’s appointment and subsequent dismissal from the Government’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) after it was discovered he had authored the now infamous comment that “there is ... an overlap between the gay movement and the movement to make paedophilia acceptable” (which the Mail article manages to miss) – was almost a year ago.
And the Christian Institute, which is backing Raabe’s attempt to overturn his dismissal from ACMD, hasn’t posted anything on the case since last May. So the Mail story – with its repeated recycling of Raabe’s assertion that legalising drugs “normalises” their usage (problem is, it’s been “normalised” already) – is there for one reason, and one alone, and that is to unload on Richard Branson.
There will be more. My expectation is for a pundit assault next week.