Can somebody please tell me how having taken drugs in the past makes someone a better candidate to be the leader of the Conservative Party – let alone prime minister?
Jeremy Hunt was the first; he admitted taking a cannabis lassi (it’s a kind of drink made in India).
Then Rory Stewart said he took opium at a wedding in Iran, prompting speculation in some quarters that he was pre-empting a revelation – possibly by a rival.
And then the floodgates opened.
Boris Johnson took cocaine and cannabis at college. Can anybody say they’re surprised?
Dominic Raab has had cannabis, and so has Andrea Leadsom.
And Michael Gove took cocaine. In his confession, he went on at length about the drug’s harmful effects (“drugs damage lives”) and about his feelings on the subject now (“it is something I deeply regret”). This caused more rancour than the straight confessions of the others.
Green MP Caroline Lucas said it was “rank hypocrisy” to admit to “mistakes” while “backing policies that perpetuate harm”.
Crispin Blunt, chairman of the all-party parliamentary group for drug policy reform, said: “Michael has delivered a politically-crafted and deeply unconvincing hand-wringing statement of regret for committing a victimless crime. He should have used the opportunity to join a vital and urgent policy debate.”
Ex-Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron pointed out that all six “continue to back policies that send less fortunate folk to prison for the same thing. It’s disgusting”.
And current Lib Dem leadership hopeful Ed Davey observed: “They might all be historical confessions but the way this Tory leadership is going it’s like they’re all off their heads.”
That certainly appears to be the conclusion of the satirists, who have been having great fun concocting fictional pasts for other MPs. I particularly enjoyed the idea of Jacob Rees-Mogg having used camphorated tincture of laudanum with his nanny in 1899.
And apparently Larry the Downing Street Cat has admitted a continuing fondness for catnip. Well, why not?
In the interests of full disclosure, This Writer is happy to admit a long history of substance abuse including cocktails of diesel, metal polish and (when I can get it) Uranium-239. We journalists run on heavy fuel!
But there is a serious question here.
The issue of illegal drugs has been a major political football for decades. Remember the “war on drugs”? The lives of millions of people have been affected – many ruined – by organised drug-pushers; Michael Gove wasn’t wrong about that. And many people have been punished – sometimes jailed – simply for possession of certain substances.
And the hypocrisy of the mass media should also be taken into account. Remember the thunderous furore after Diane Abbott drank a mojito on a train? In comparison, we get hardly a whimper after people who may become prime minister confessed to serious historical crimes.
Against this background, it is right to question the attitude of these confessors. Let’s have a poll:
Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.
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