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« Lord Hodgson's case for democracy | Main | Ancram Versus Clarke »



On the issue of the candidates backing Cameron - a fair number of them chalked up absolutely awful results in the North East of England, registering swings to the Lib Dems when much better results could and should have been expected. Are we going to hear much from the Cameron camp other than the fact that he is young and intellogent? Fairly juvenile comments such as that Cameron is "on the way up not on the way down" surely represent a cheapening of the level of debate in this contest.

Selsdon Man

It is significant that only Sir Malcolm Rifkind supported Michael Howard's policy. The other comments failed (deliberately?) to address the issues of legalisation or downgrading.

You can abhor dug use without supporting prohibition. The comments of Clarke, Cameron and Davis would be consistent with such an approach.

Will the social conservatives, such as our esteemed Editor, now back Rifkind? Or is his anti-war view too much of a bitter pill to swallow?


Well Cameron goes up in my estimation. Keeping drugs illegal doesn't seem to stop people from taking them. But the consequence of there being an illegal market rather than a legal one is that lots of shooting and burglary are involved. In contrast, when you go to pharmacy, you never see any guns. The war on drugs has failed spectacularly. Should we carry on with that policy or try something else?

Samuel Coates

It's interesting that most candidates lost out to the LibDems, according to Disraeli - the only one I know in that category is Ben Rogers. I've just been in the LDYS forum and they all love Cameron now!

Alex, I don't think the war on drugs is a policy that could be carried on as it is not the approach that is unsuccessfully being taken at the moment. Drug-use can't be eliminated, but it can be sent to the margins and not seen to be condoned by the start in so called harm-reduction schemes.

Samuel Coates

not seen to be condoned by the State*

Oberon Houston

Were his comments not aimed at stimulating some debate on the issue. I'm not sure he was advocating any as policy, simply that there were options, some radical, that should be explored. After all its the only way to ensure current legislation, national and/or international, is healthy (no pun). Its not bad to think abour different policy options.

To draw this into the leadership debate is rather distracting if my suppositions are correct. Or are they?

James Hellyer

They aren't.

"David Cameron, the Tory leadership contender, believes the UN should consider legalising drugs and wants hard-core addicts to be provided with legal "shooting galleries" and state-prescribed heroin."

We have empirical evidence that this doesn't work. Since 1994, the Swiss have prescribed pure heroin to some of teir addicts. The aim was to stabilise the health of addicts and prevent them from using heroin in public, thus taking their habit away from the black market. Swiss officials claim that the experiment is working because crime is down, However, addicts are now becoming dependent on prescription heroin and hopes of weaning them off the substance have ended.

"He also supported calls for ecstasy to be downgraded from the class-A status it shares with cocaine and heroin and said it would be "disappointing" if radical options on the law on cannabis were not looked at."

He appears to favour considering a Netherlands approach here, accepting drugs as part of life and possibly legalisation. The results of similar policies in the Netherlands has seen use of cannabis amongst the young more than double, with use of ecstasy and cocaine by l5 year olds rising significantly.

The questions Cameron asks are the wrong ones. They are about problem manangement. The right question is whether drug use is inimical to a civilised, tolerant society. If it is, then the inevitable increase in usage legaliastion or decriminalisation would bring make it morally unacceptable.

If the goal should be to create a ‘drugs free society,’ as is the aim in Sweden, the everyone from the police to schools must work towards that a strategy.

Peter C Glover

Has anyone else noticed that today's Daily Telegraph has shamelessly published three substantial features apparently 'touting' Blue Ken's leadersahip bid (with two smiling Ken PR pics to boot)? I thought I had picked up a pamhlet from Ken's leadership HQ for a moment.

But more than this. There is something severely depressing about Ken's entire approach - and the DT appears to go along with it in his lead - that getting 'power is everything, ideology is nothing'.

By ideology Ken, you mean sound conservative ideals and policies then? Yet more confirmation that a major brand of modern conservativism is rooted somewhere other than in the spirit and vision of Burke and the fathers of conservatism then.

Is a Conservative Party which bears no resemlance to conservatism really worth our support? Or do we think the coutnry ddeserves better than that?

I have posted on this today.


I think the real point is that ideology is useless without the power to exercise it and that a Government elected under a Conservative banner, even if it has to water down some of the ideology, is far better than sitting on the sidelines watching Blair and Brown run the country. Sometimes I think that great Tory philosophers, such as Oakeshott, would be depressed when they see some of the dogmatism that characterises a Party and philosophy previously distinguished by its pragmatism, realism and thirst for power.


Exactly how many election defeats are you prepared to countenance Peter before we question 'our sound ideals and policies'.
I think you have put the worst possible spin on what Clarke actually said but the fact is if we are to achieve ANYTHING we have to be in power.
Being in opposition particularly when Labour have a healthy majority is a futile excercise and the last 8 years have proved we are not very good at it.

James Hellyer

"Exactly how many election defeats are you prepared to countenance Peter before we question 'our sound ideals and policies'."

Malcolm, obviously we need to question not only our policies but their presentation. For example, I think we had some very good choice based health and education policies at the last election, which some would now abandon saying they were rejected by the electorate. However, we never made the case for them - all we talked about was MRSA and discipline. I think this rush to "pragmatism" risks throwing the proverbial baby out with the bathwater.

Peter C Glover

As many defeats as it takes to re-establish the understanding - clearly missing from the modern conservative culture and mind - as some of the baove comments ably demonstrate) - and original vision that extends to more than the economic conservative vision of almost all the current candidates.

Try reading Edward Leigh's excellent Cornerstone pamphlet or better still Kirk's A Conservative Mind. It'll help.

Or is the consensus set to remain that any vision at all, as long as it bear a Conservative label on it, is means what lies beneath is true conservatism, is acceptable to the Party and good for the country.

Perhaps in Pragmatic World. A good drubbing for Ken Clarke's version - and a third for a Party loosed from its 'theological' moorings is not a problem. If that is, it begins to bring some to their senses.

Sadly, there appears no sign of that so far. I speak as a former Govenrment spokesman and a media consultant as well - it seems the Party could do with some better advice than it seems to be getting.

Jacob Träff

I had no idea drugs would be an issue... Naturally, the Conservatives must stand for a very restrictive drug policy. Central to the Conservative idea of freedom is the belief in the power of the human mind and the ability of each person to control his own life - how can that be combined with tax money going to heroin?


'As many defeats as it takes'- words fail me!

Oberon Houston

...or try reading:

“The Strange Death of Tory England” by Geoffrey Wheatcroft

If you read Edward Leigh’s' pamphlet, to get the most out of it:

1) Getting into a time machine and going back to 1840 Britain, and then,
2) Get out of that and then take a Trans-Atlantic Flight to Alabama.
3) Then drink washing-up liquid and go to sleep imagining Britain in the 21st Century being a mixture of the two.

If you have nightmares, don't worry. It will never actually happen. The Lib-Dems will form a Government. Oh, I feel another migraine coming on.

Oberon Houston

(sorry for the v-bad editing, I’ll try again, with less effect this time...
or try reading:

“The Strange Death of Tory England” by Geoffrey Wheatcroft

If you read Edward Leigh’s' pamphlet, to get the most out of it:

1) Get into a time machine and go back to 1840 Britain, and then,
2) Get out of that and then take a Trans-Atlantic Flight to Alabama.
3) Then drink washing-up liquid and go to sleep imagining Britain in the 21st Century being a mixture of the two.

If you have nightmares, don't worry. It will never actually happen. The Lib-Dems will form a Government first. Oh, I feel another migraine coming on.

…Seriously though, Geoffrey Wheatcroft’s book is excellent.


I enjoyed that book too although obviously his chronicle of our partys decline made me sad.
Didn't agree with everything he wrote however.In my opinion he vastly overestimated the role of Charles Moore at the Telegraph and made some very strange assertions about Jewish people in the Conservative party.

Selsdon Man

You are right Oberon. Leigh's pamphlet was not only backward looking but intellectual dross.


This is Cameron's biggest error, I can't defend the position he takes on drugs, i think he is wrong. I don't agree with this defeatest view that the 'war on drugs' has been lost - what rubbish, if your son or daughter was the next victim you'd very quickly take up arms. We must be strong and give a clear "say no to drugs" line, and provide the best help we can for those recovering from drug problems.


Surely a policy to legalise certain drugs is not a left wing policy. If anything it is a capitalist policy. Allowing say ecstasy to be legally sold by licensed companies is the way to go?


The latest survey showed that cannabis use had gone down since it was decriminalised.

Ecstacy is used safely by 1-2million people in this country. Alcohol and tobacco abuse kill hundreds of people each week and yet people focus on a very few high profile deaths from ecstacy.

The reality is that ecstacy hasn't killed anyone. Dehydration or excessive water drinking has, but this killed 4 people in the great north run this year and noone is suggesting that running should be criminalised.

David Cameron is the first tory politician to say anything sensible on drugs and I and millions of other young people would support the conservatives with a leader like him.


I believe in the legalisation as drugs appeal to young children because they arent allowed. Also I read about many cannabis dealers gettin busted but nothing about heroin,speed or exctasy dealersn this is terrible as many of my friends who smoke cannabis have resorted to heroin as the substitue please help me bring this awarness to the goverment


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