Government advisor Les Iversen has made a statement, which may not sound a particularly riveting event, except for the fact that his area of advice is on drugs policy. And he has proposed that young people should not be subjected to penalties for using currently illegal drugs. This has caused the authoritarian part of the Fourth Estate to come down on him like the proverbial tonne of bricks.
Two adversaries discover common ground
Exemplifying this strand of opinion is Melanie “not just Barking but halfway to Upminster” Phillips, who has gone off the end of the pier in the dutiful service of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre at the Mail. Mel, with commensurate subtlety, asserts that drug use is broadly equivalent to arson, or GBH, and the idea “involves a repudiation of law and justice in favour of the interests of the criminal”.
This is drivel of the highest order. But it is characteristic of those who cling to the belief that, if only more people were convicted, fined and locked away, the problem would meekly vanish from our streets, although of course she never does get round to explaining how we fund the tens of thousands of extra prison places, or why countries with rather more draconian laws have the same problem.
Meanwhile, someone at Fox can smell burning
Fortunately, not all on the right share Mel’s frankly batshit view, and here I find myself in shock agreement with James “saviour of Western civilisation” Delingpole, who is coming at the discussion from a libertarian point of view, whereas I have arrived there along the well worn road of pragmatism. Del Boy, to his eternal credit, nails the problem at the outset.
What concerns him is “the grubby illegality of that culture: the fact that whoever supplies them will, by definition, come from the criminal underworld; the fact that, there being no consumer protection or quality control, their drugs could be cut with any quantity of rubbish”. Got it in one. The single most dangerous thing about these substances is that the industry has been surrendered to organised criminality.
Delingpole acknowledges the existence of the authoritarian lobby, but cites former Met DAC Brian Paddick, demonised by the Mail for the two sins of being gay and “soft on drugs”, and David Nutt, who fell foul of the previous Government for advancing an argument similar to that of Les Iversen. Both have found adversely on the current approach. Put directly, it doesn’t work.
What Nutt also points out is that the public mood is beginning to mature, to the extent that the scaremongering from the authoritarian fringe is losing credibility. Even Eton has abandoned the idea of instant expulsion for drug use (fortunately for Young Dave), something which in days gone by was de rigueur for any self respecting private school. The view Delingpole sets out is becoming mainstream.
And I for one am glad to welcome him to this new consensus. Well done that man.
If you're going to position yourself in the nuance between Mel and Delingpole that leaves an open goal. Why is it the State's business to tell us what to put in our bodies ? And why is that question usually exclusively (or only) asked by the so-called libertaians?
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