Nadine Dorries, the controversial MP for Mid-Bedfordshire has been tweeting again. Yesterday she decided to try and tackle an issue that I have covered many times on here, drugs policy. Here were her first couple of tweets:
So she was trying to rebut Norman Lamb's comments about alcohol being more dangerous than some currently illegal drugs (the same point that Professor Nutt made backed up with evidence before he was sacked recently) by saying that she has never seen booze being sold at a school gate unlike presumably illegal drugs. Firstly, just because she has never seen it does not mean it does not happen. Indeed Jason Lower was quickly able to find this news story about older children selling alcohol to younger children at the school gate from the Daily Mail a few years back and tweeted it back to Nadine. No response. Secondly, there was no engagement from Nadine in response to the many tweets that people sent back to her asking how much this problem of drugs being sold to youngsters was exacerbated by the fact that the drugs are illegal.
She then went on to make the preposterous point:
At this point I could stands no more and I tweeted back:
Her implication that it is only illegal drugs that cause problems and wind people up in prison is off in cloud cuckoo-land somewhere. Maybe the same place where nuclear weapons are not weapons of mass destruction.
j_alcoholfree pretty quickly dealt with her claim via this tweet:
The link is to a BBC report from 2007 which reports the findings of an Alcohol Concern survey of prisoners.
All things caused by the illegality of drugs, not the drugs themselves. Nadine should perhaps study American history between 1919 and 1933 to find out what happened over there when alcohol was made illegal. She would find that all the pernicious effects that occur due to drug prohibition in the UK at the moment happened there as a direct result of that policy.
She then moved onto her thoughts about what to do:
I'm also not sure how an increase in methadone scripts proves that abstinence rehab works. All that proves is more scripts are being given out. However I would just draw her attention to the fact that in 1970 there were 2,000 heroin addicts. Now there are over 200,000 under the current drugs laws. Also, the figure she quotes is how much it has cost over 10 years, not one year. Despite many people tweeting this to her she has not corrected this figure.
So it looks like Nads' solution to the failing "War on Drugs" is to fight the war harder and send out a strong message to all users. In other words rather than accept that this is a "war" that can never be won she wants to spend even more money trying to fight it and "sending out a message". Er, but hang on a minute, isn't that what governments of both stripes have been trying for 40 years? Brace yourselves for more of the same from a potential Tory government...
Her comment about rehabilitation orders is about the only good thing she says. I am not sure about them being compulsory though. After all, an addict will only get clean when he or she is ready so Nadine's talk of compulsion could easily be throwing good money after bad.
As El_Cuevro tweeted, HM Prison Service says that 33% of female prisoners are in for drug offences. Nadine's figure of 100% can only be because she must have visited a drug offenders institution. So I am not sure what point she is trying to make other than to imply that all offenders are in for drugs offences which is blatantly untrue.
All in all this was a dispiriting Twitter session for me and I suspect everyone else who tried to engage with her. She did tweet a couple of responses to people towards the end but the ignorance of one of our members of parliament on this issue made me want to weep.
For someone who so clearly wants to keep drugs illegal she seems to be in very real danger of making the opposite argument. I would suggest that she researches this issue more carefully before wading into the public arena with ill-founded statements like these.