Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Is Chris Grayling Alan Johnson's mini-me?

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.

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.


Anthony Burns said...

Given the recent hilarity over MP expenses claims and related hypocrisies, I expect these concerted efforts by Labour and the Tories to upstage each other over hard-line drugs policy reflects a desire to recover an iota of tabloid support as the elections loom, but such absurd "moral" posturing in the wake of the scandal is unlikely to encourage anything other than political apathy, benefiting none of the main parties. No wonder the BNP is looking so chirpy these days ...

I do sometimes wonder if the application form for being a minister includes the question "Are you able to maintain a pompous, patronising facade without a square inch of moral high ground left to stand upon?"

I will have far more respect for the first minister who honestly admits that of course alcohol and tobacco are more dangerous than cannabis, but their use is too entrenched in our society to do anything about, and since few desire a completely laissez-faire policy on substances it's much more expedient for cannabis to be the scapegoat. I could understand and appreciate that, to an extent. What I do not appreciate is watching scientists being silenced while politicians stick to a lie that insults everyone's intelligence ...

Dingdongalistic said...

"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."

I love your sense of humour!

Cardinal Richelieu's mole said...

Surely the Conservatives position is explained: -

1. secondarily by wishing to put a marker down that advisers to their future government will be expected to give advice and nothing more;

2. primarily by a desire to "park" the whole debate on drugs so it does not feature in a general election. There are two reasons for doing that, these being (i) it distracts from the issues that will decide the election, and (ii) Dave's views are doubtless still Dave's views and these might frighten middle England - or at least as interpreted for them by an unconscionable media parroting mischievous opponents.

Do try to keep up, people! :- )

Mark Wadsworth said...

Short answer "Yes".

I keep telling people that the Tories will be even worse than Labour, and this is yet more evidence.

Anonymous said...

In all the excitement I had quite missed Grayling's comments, what a monumental dick.

"latest ill-judged contribution to the debate"

WTF ? As I point out in my own (practically mandatory) post on the whole sorry affair, Nutt was in fact presenting a briefing paper (‘Estimating drug harms : a risky business ?’) to the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies.

Every single thing he said is backed up by facts, the paper is available here and a fascinating old read it is to.

Johnson and Grayling make it sound as though he's just some mouthy bloke sounding off to the tabloids.

I guess Charlotte is right about the Authoritarian Super Cocks !

Anthony Burns said...

Alan Johnson's "justification" for sacking David Nutt in the letter he sent him is both hilarious and sinister: "I cannot have public confusion between scientific advice and policy." Damn that inconvenient scientific advice for not being a team player ...

"The very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common: they don't alter their views to fit the facts, they alter the facts to fit their views, which can be uncomfortable if you happen to be one of the facts that needs altering."

(Quoted from "Doctor Who: The Face of Evil", of all places)

I originally had a mind to vote Labour in the next election, solely in the hope of keeping the Tories out, but there is now no danger of that, as Gordon Brown, Alan Johnson, and Chris Grayling seem determined to prove there is very little to choose between them in the reality vs. propaganda stakes. This sorry incident sinks the Labour party to much the same level as the BNP insofar as it seems they would rather encourage a sense of public fear based on a false claim (i.e. that cannabis / multiculturalism is the Devil's own invention) than base their policy on the actual facts rather than the artifically-stoked fear.

dazmando said...

Great Picture btw

Anonymous said...

Urgent questions in the house at 3.30...

Roger Thornhill said...

Welcome to "policy based evidence"!