I think the most depressing thing about this whole latest drugs policy farago is that it is looking like things will not be any better if the Conservatives get in after the next election.
Every time there is a story about drugs, the government will pop up with what it perceives as tough rhetoric about needing to "crack down" and "tighten up" etc. But what also happens is that the Tories also pop up in a sort of "mini-me" role echoing whatever the latest government minister has said.
In response to Alan Johnson's bizarre decision yesterday to sack Professor David Nutt, here is what Chris Grayling, the Shadow Home Secretary has said:
This was an inevitable decision after his (Professor Nutt's) latest ill-judged contribution to the debate but it is a sign of lack of focus at the Home Office that it didn’t act sooner given that he has done this before.
Thus setting down a clear marker for more of the same from a future Tory administration. If anything they would be worse given that his one criticism seems to be that Professor Nutt was not sacked even sooner.
David Cameron once understood that current drugs policy is not working. When he was a member of the Home Affairs Select Committee, upon publication of a report on the issue he said:
Drugs policy in this country has been failing for decades. Drug abuse has increased massively, the number of drug-related deaths has risen substantially and drug-related crime accounts for up to half of all acquisitive crime. I hope that our report will encourage fresh thinking and a new approach. We need to get away from entrenched positions and try to reduce the harm that drugs do both to users and society at large.
I don't understand what's changed. He is now leader of his party and may well be Prime Minister in a few months time. If drugs policy has been failing for decades, why do we seem to be drifting towards more of the same?
We need sensible evidence based policy in this area. We cannot allow such an important area of policy to continue to be dictated by tabloid headlines.