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Ian's last paragraph sums it up very well. He and you, Tim, will no doubt be reviled by the usual culprits who have never forgiven Ian for denying Michael Portillo his Preciousssss, the leadership of the Tory Party.

Unfortunately for Ian Duncan Smith the good work he's doing on these issues are completely negated by idiots on the Tory frontbench like Peter Ainsworth who said of his own experiences:

"To be quite honest, most of our generation did (smoke cannabis). I mean, it was kind of the odd ones out who didn't,"


"It was the odd ones who didn't." What sort of message does that send out to youngsters? Ainsworth owes every parent in the land an apology.

I have never smoked cannabis: I have smoked tobacco in the past and on the whole found it pretty boring and the smell of cannabis is offputting. Don't care greatly if others smoke it, as long as they understand the risks. Not very interested myself. Nice to know that my MP thinks I'm "odd". Would he care to offer any other gratuitous comments on my tastes and lifestyle?

"It was the odd ones who didn't." What sort of message does that send out to youngsters?

A truthful one. If we start by lying, we'll never make any progress at reducing drugs use.

A parent who believes that their child is unlikely to try drugs is kidding themselves. Education that is contradicted by the real world will lack credibility and fail (although the child won’t tell anyone that is has failed). Teenagers are genetically programmed to experiment – and drugs, cars, alcohol and sex are all normal topics of teenage interest. The best a parent can hope to achieve is to teach their children how to make good decisions… and how to seek help if they need it.

The greatest gift that my parents gave me was that, no matter how bad it was, I knew I could turn to them when I’d got myself into trouble. Various of my friends were so fearful of their parents that they were deprived of adult support at exactly the times they most needed it. Our attitude to drugs has to be that our children can genuinely learn from us and expect genuine support should they need it.

Valedictoryan, I think Peter Ainsworth was quite unnecessarily insulting. Your points are well made and I have tried, and enjoyed, three of the four topics of teenage interest which you describe. However, the job of parents is not helped by headline-hungry politicians making simplistic and pejorative statements.

There is a bit of me which thinks that the Welfare State has significantly contributed to or exacerbated these problems in a plethora of ways.

In light of that I do therefore question how much the State can do to solve the problems (even accepting that to solve them is the State's responsibility).

Part of me thinks that IDS would be happier as a social worker than as an MP...

For a start it's mendacious of UK Pundit and M McGowan to say Ainsworth is calling them "odd": he said "odd one out" which is clearly very different, and it is unconstructive to twist his words like that.

We would do ourselves a failure if we faced up the fact that in today's youth not doing drugs does make you the odd one out; furthermore that you're not going to change that by an attempt at moralising. The most vulnerable - those that IDS is talking about - are the most likely to do drugs, but also the least likely to listen to men in grey suits pontificating.

IDS has done well to identify the problem, but the solution of IDS and CH posters is not very likely to work.

And nor is your solution either. Itwll be laughed out of court in the real world. As for the tendentious nonsense about "moralising", would you therefore remove health warnings on packets of cigarettes? Ainsworth could have used the words "in a minority" if he had wanted to be non-pejorative and make the same point. Time you learnt what mendacity means.

in today's youth not doing drugs does make you the odd one out

I think this is untrue. I do not think it is a widespread thing any more than smoking or drinking was in the past. The media overplays minorities to make them appear majorities.

The problem is as IDS points out the sheer despair of some people in some lives who go into a perpetual tailspin and cannot get out.

It would be nice if there could be some focus on the problems IDS describes rather than being quite so self-absorbed as people seem to be.

I've not seen the deabte charactersied as moderniser v trad by anyone other than him. I have no doubt he has worthwhile things to say on the subject but it's a shame his tone is so patronising - as if anyone who disagrees with him fails to recognise the extent of the 'crisis' or is an inhabitant of the 'metropolitan beltway'.

IDs makes a very valid point, that drink and drug abuse is a national problem.
It arises because this present government and previous administrations ignored the problem, allowing themselves to be seduced by the smart set, that drugs where acceptable and not harmful, with particular reference to cannabis.
The police and the justice system has become mired in the PC attitudes to drugs, that has ruined the effectiveness of laws and denied the police the opportunity and indeed the will to use existing legislation to good effect. This similarly applies to drink, police and justice attitudes have been to tolerate abuse rather than apply the law, drunk and disorderly charges should be regularly applied and fines administered. Those that regularly appear before the beak clearly have a problem and the local services should then become involved.
It is the lack of will that is so sapping to the effort to control drug abuse and the effects of alcohol. Far too many people are putting their PC and dogmatic pennyworth's into the debate and are subverting the basic premise that all know and understand. Drug addicts commit the bulk of crime, so why do they not recieve automatic treatment in jail to detox, preventing such news stories, that show addicts suing the Prison Service because they were not getting medication.
Drugs and drink abuse are so impactive on our daily lives and so expensive, one can almost say that the issue should not be a political one, left to the politicians to screw up or score cheap points, but, a social cause that requires immediate and positive action. We must rid the country of drugs and crime and make people understand that getting lashed is one thing, but to be disorderly and drunk is a shameful thing.

I'm not sure why Peter Ainsworth should apologise. What possible benefit can there be from someone discounting his own experiences about the nature of drug-taking. Certainly from my own experience, I agree with what he said. The vast majority of my acquaintances who have taken drugs --- and continue to do so -- are utterly normal people who go to work, pay their mortgages and bring up their children perfectly well.
The question that is rarely asked by prohibitionists is why do so many people take drugs. The vast majority of drug users don't do it because they are morally or socially degenerate, or because they are trying to escape their terrible lives or are suffering an existential crisis.
They take drugs because it brings them pleasure by altering their mood --- whether by relaxing or giving a dancing high --- in just the same way as cracking open a bottle of beer or wine. Most drug education programmes are pretty ineffectual because they cannot admit that there is a perceived benefit to drug use ie simple pleasure. People mainly learn about drugs from their peers --- of which the majority will have had mainly pleasurable experiences, save for the occasional drug-induced equivalent of a "hangover". Little wonder drug education fails.
Let's remember that the people IDS is concerned about are a small minority of a drugtaking minority; most drug users do not become addicts nor do they steal to feed their habit. If you looked at alcohol use just by observing the experience of alcoholics or by touring Leicester Square on a Friday night, then one would ban alcohol; likewise, if you looked just at addicts or "the underclass", one would draw the same conclusions as IDS. Unfortunately, it's a skewed view, that won't help create a practical drugs policy.

As a pragmatic libertarian, I'm generally in favour of adults being able choose their own poison provided they do no harm to others, with regulation of the supply and taxation to cover the costs eg to the NHS, and I'm generally against criminal laws which are so difficult to enforce that attempts at enforcement actually do more harm than the crime itself. But NB the word "adults" - I don't extend the same freedom of choice to children, who should be treated as children, not as miniature adults, and those who provide classified drugs to children should be liable to severe punishment. That would include death for career criminals who deliberately target children - it would only need a few to be hanged and the rest would stop. And NB the phrase "provided they do no harm to others" - those individual adults who show that they can't use these substances responsibly should not only be liable to punishment for whatever harm they do while under the influence, but be forbidden from using them by a court order, and subject to testing for the rest of their lives. As a practical and necessary precaution stricter rules should apply to certain groups, eg train drivers, and any drug use in prisons should be entirely under the control of the prison authorities, not the prisoners. At the same time, while the use of these substances is still illegal it's wrong for politicians (or teachers) to give the impression it's "normal" to use them, and that those who refrain are somehow "odd". It shouldn't be considered "odd" to be law-abiding.

IDS is probably deeply concerned at the penetration of the Conservative Party by members of the Libertarian Alliance. If IDS is really concerned, he should be calling for the ejection of Alan Duncan MP whose book Saturn's Children (hardback) started this whole pernicious drugs promotion.

It's good to hear Ian speaking for around 90% of the Conservative Party.

On p12 of the Telegraph is the story of how a cannabis-crazed thug deliberately murdered a young man while he was off his trolley. That gives the lie to the Beltway Yuppies who come on here telling us it's right-on to take drugs.

A future war on drugs should begin by targeting these pro-drug scum.

As Frank Zappa once said "They take drugs to give them an excuse for behaving like a**holes"

@Robbie 15:17 - very well said.

The vast majority of drug users

Robbie you made this statement above....now prove it.

Provide proof that the vast majority of drug users behave as you say and do not clog up prisons, A&E units, or disrupt families, neighbourhoods, or keep the police, socialworkers, teachers, doctors etc extremely busy.

You are so knowledgeable in this field and know exactly how the vast majority behave I think we can all sit back and benefit from your profound experience

"the Beltway Yuppies who come on here telling us it's right-on to take drugs."

Who has said that?

"the Beltway Yuppies who come on here telling us it's right-on to take drugs."

Who has said that?

You for a start

You for a start.

Show me the quotation.

Robbie (15:17) touches on an important point that is frequently overlooked by many. Children and teenagers are informed (and I use this phrase loosely as the quality of drugs education varies from school to school) that drugs are bad. Yet they are also informed that cigarettes and alcohol are also bad. However, they are smart enough to recognise that cigarettes and alcohol are legally available and drugs are not. This acts to dilute the message that is being put across, since they are told both are bad, yet we imply that one is less bad than the other. However. more crime and deaths in the UK are associated with alcohol (pop into your local A&E or as suggested town centre on a Friday or Saturday night to witness this) than with Drugs. I guess this is why you get the headlines in the papers for drugs but not for alcohol. Young people can spot hypocrisy a mile off and this one is no different.

As for the point that "The impact of the epidemic of heavy drinking and drugtaking is particularly severe for the least well off". Tell me something new. If you have no prospects and little future then you will naturally seek an easy way out. As they said during the industrial revolution "The fastest way out of Manchester was in a bottle". Substance abuse is nothing new in the UK as Hogarths gin lane aptly demonstrates. Drug and alcohol abuse is a symptom of the wider problems in society. Banging people on benefits for life with no future and reinforcing a feeling of no self worth is a passport to further problems not a solution.

What are we as a party going to offer that will enable people to get their lives back on track so that they can develop a feeling of self worth? In my mind that is a debate worth having.

I've got no problem at all with phasing out tobacco and coming down like a ton of bricks on the disgusting drunks who pollute our town centres.

Why do the lunatic pro-drugs/Hug-a-Druggie brigade always assume that Traditional Conservatives support the right of every moron to spread lung cancer, get roaring drunk every Saturday night, and paint the town yellow with his vomit?

There are a lot of leaves we can take out of Sweden's book.

Any chance of seeing that quotation Alex? It's rather a serious allegation to make. About time you offered some evidence in support of it.

Did I hear something squeaking?

More like a screech. It's your wheels going into reverse as you wholly fail to substantiate another one of your abusive allegations.


The ONS reported that a third of males and a fifth of women aged 16-24 said they had taken illegal drugs in the year 2004-05 (the figures for men aged 16-59 was 14% and 8% for women of the same age group.) I suspect that this survey may underreport drug use for the simple reason that many people would not want to admit an illegal activity to a stranger from an official body. All in all though, that's a pretty fair whack of the population. Now, Mr TomTom, show me the evidence that a third or a sixth or a twelth of all young males --- because of disordered, druggy lifestyles --- clog up hospitals, prisons etc etc. I don't doubt that a small group of drug-users commit a disproportionate amount of crime and soak up the resources, energy and time of the welfare state. But as I wrote before these people are a minority of drug users.

"The ONS reported that a third of males and a fifth of women aged 16-24 said they had taken illegal drugs in the year 2004-05"

Worth highlighting that the ONS data is for usage in a single year. People who have experimented and moved on will make the proportion that have ever taken illegal drugs far, far higher. But Robbie, don't expect facts and figures to get in the way of a good argument on this site!

Robbie, what point are you trying to make by showing that a minority of drug users fall seriously ill, even if I take the figures at face value? That all drugs should be legalised? That there should be no attempt to educate people (especially children) about the dangers of drug use and that the entire focus should be dealing with the fallout? I can't help noticing how evasive those who are critical of current drug policies are when it comes to proposing alternatives. They all strike libertarian poses but don't seem to have many practical answers.

"A parent who believes that their child is unlikely to try drugs is kidding themselves."

Why? I never did.

"I can't help noticing how evasive those who are critical of current drug policies are when it comes to proposing alternatives. They all strike libertarian poses but don't seem to have many practical answers."

Leave people to do with the consequences themselves? If some idiot wants to pump themselves full of dangerous substances then so be it. As long as they're not entitled to free treatment paid for by my taxes I have no interest in telling them how to live their lives.

"Provide proof that the vast majority of drug users behave as you say and do not clog up prisons, A&E units, or disrupt families, neighbourhoods, or keep the police, socialworkers, teachers, doctors etc extremely busy."

I suppose it depends on whether you include occasional drug users as opposed to just addicts.

Firstly while it's true that tobacco eventually kills many of those who smoke it, to compare it to say heroin is quite ridiculous. Typically tobacco kills over decades, not over a few years. Nor do we often hear about nicotine-crazed murderers, or serial burglaries or muggings committed by smoking addicts to finance their habit. In fact I often think that there's something rather cowardly about the assault on smokers - tobacco is legal, smokers are a soft target, and persecuting them is a displacement activity to avoid dealing with the much more difficult problem of illegal drugs. Similarly it's indisputable that many people drink alcohol throughout their adult lives, often more than the medical profession would recommend as the maximum intake, but live to an old age and die of something entirely unrelated to their alcohol intake. Therefore my first practical step would be to get a proper perspective of the risks to the users, and to others, for the different substances.

But you are clearly "odd", Richard. Consider yourself stigmatised. Isn't the bragging by those who are dopier-than-thou rather tedious? In grown-up countries like France, adults don't feel the need to lecture others about whether they do/do not do X in their private lives. You can never get away from the Puritan finger-wagging streak in the English middle class psyche.

The point I'm trying to make, Michael McGowan, is that most drug usage, like most alcohol drinking, isn't particularly damaging in itself (Of course, if you want a healthy life then it's best to abstain drugs, cigarettes and alcohol; and, of course, some people do mentally/physically damage themselves by frequently taking large amount of drugs) and that the vast majority of people are pretty sensible and don't do things that harm themselves; ie whisper it quietly, the majority of drug users consume drugs in a way that doesn't disrupt their lives, cause themselves ill-health, harm others or lead them to losing their jobs. That's why I don't fear drugs legalisation. The repeal of Prohibition in the United States, after all, did not lead to mass alcoholism or drunken disorder. However, what is clearly damaging is prohibition itself: drug legalisation, or rather relegalisation since many of the drugs were freely available in the 19th and early 20th century, of drugs would take the sting out of the violence associated with the illegal drug trade.

As for "drugs education"; well, what schoolchild has not been taught that (in the words of South Park's Mr Mackey) "drugs are bad, m'kay". Schools-based drugs education doesn't seem to work. The best sort of education about life is self-education: observing others and learning from your own and other people's experience. That's what young people do, and that's why lots don't "just say no" because they don't believe a lot of scare stories about drugs.

A highly overoptimistic view of the likely consequences of total legalisation, which interestingly has never been attempted. Presumably you would also recommend removing health warnings on packets of cigarettes? Some alcohol consumption is positively good for you, by the way, so total prohibition is a doubly bad idea in relation to alcohol. I have never heard the same claims made for drugs and tobacco.

Remove health warnings from cigarette packets? Well, I've got no objections. I've got more than a sneaking suspicion that most smokers don't need such health warnings to know that smoking can be bad for your health.

And, yes, some (not all) types of alcohol, in moderation, can be good for you. But not drinking is even better for your body. But I suspect most of us don't drink for straightforward health reasons but because alcohol is damn pleasurable. There's nothing wrong with accepting small health risks or disadvantages in the name of pleasure (whatever your poison is.)

scare stories about drugs.

Well we can see exactly where "Robbie" is coming from.

Pro-drugs weirdoes have no place in the Conservative Party, nor indeed in any other decent and respectable organisation.

Well done, Alex Forsyth. You have singlehandedly won the drug debate for your side with your clever "pro-drugs weirdoes" jibe. How can anyone match such eloquence and rhetorical pizzazz? I surrender! I retract and eat every single word from my previous comments.

"A parent who believes that their child is unlikely to try drugs is kidding themselves."

Why? I never did.

To answer your question I'll quote the House of Commons Select Committee on Home Affairs, Report 3:

In the 16-29 group, 50% had tried drugs in their lifetime, 25% in the last year and 16% in the last month.

IDS's work on social justice is the first real attempt to identify the real causes of the social breakdown in Britain. For this he can only be applauded, and does not deserve comments about social work etc.
I heard him speak the other day and the policy group is now working on understanding what policies may actually WORK (as opposed to win votes/ please the masses) in addressing this problem. I have seen far too many patients suffering as a result of drugs/ family breakdown/ the consequences of crime. We need to take a long hard look at what we as a society can now do about this.
Reassuringly, the policy group are not ruling anything out (and welfare reform is clearly a possible way of dealing with many of the problems, as is proper funding of rehabilitation).
Surely that is the point, identifying what may actually sort out some of these problems (root causes/ deterrents/ treatment), not just knee jerk reactions based on political dogma.
The Party is incredibly lucky to have IDS around at the moment leading the work on this issue, and he deserves only praise for this.

Rachel. Thank you for providing me with an update on the work that the policy group is doing. It is good to hear that all options are being explored as we need to look at what causes people to become so lacking in self worth and self belief that they allow themselves to slip into a spiral of abuse. I agree with you that we need to take dogma out of the debate and work towards addressing the core issues.

the policy group is now working on understanding what policies may actually WORK (as opposed to win votes/ please the masses) in addressing this problem.

Thank you, Rachel, for adding to some of the more thoughtful contributions on this thread. I agree that this is a huge public policy challenge, and that the solutions eventually proposed may not be easy for some with pre-determined views to swallow. This is, however, one area where "what matters is what works" really does ring true.

The work that IDS and the CSJ have done on this and many other issues has been detailed and thorough, and should be held up to all of our opponents who claim that Conservatives today are not thinking seriously about long-term solutions in difficult policy areas.

I agree with both your posts Denis, if it could be achieved I think your post at 15.26 is very practical. The second post at 18.52 touches on the fact that alcohol consumption and ordinary cigarette smoking is more complicated with regard to its effect on people. Alcohol CAN have very anti-social effects which impinge on other people as everybody experiences nowadays, but there are people who drink excessively and still manage to live to a ripe old age. And the same goes for smoking - not many perhaps, there was a famous conductor, I think it might have been Sir John Barbarolli who apparently smoked something like 60 fags a day until he died at an advanced old age! The trouble is one doesn't know which category one falls into until it is too late!

"In the 16-29 group, 50% had tried drugs in their lifetime, 25% in the last year and 16% in the last month."

That leaves 50% who didn't!

That leaves 50% who didn't!

Far more than 50% since sampling for such questions is inevitably poor. It is very hard to get answers to questions in a poll about illegal activity and I doubt the survey was particularly well-sampled.

We do live in the era of tails wagging dogs

Now, Mr TomTom, show me the evidence that a third or a sixth or a twelth of all young males --- because of disordered, druggy lifestyles --- clog up hospitals, prisons etc etc.

Let's do it. Let's collate names and addresses of all persons attending A&E with drug-related problems - and contact their employers to suggest they attend rehab.

I understand some A&E units have problems with individuals who suffer heart problems after using cocaine - their car insurers and life assurers should be informed.

I think you are wrong with your description of drug addicts as "disordered" many hold down lucrative jobs in The City or law firms - but obviously should have a tete-a-tete with their employers

And now we learn it's official. The UK is at the bottom of Europe's childhood wellbeing table.

No wonder. As Bruce Anderson has said:

Drug-takers are responsible for up to half of all crime. Arguably, this is the worst single threat to the British public's quality of life. The drug trade is wrecking Colombia, Guyana, Trinidad and Jamaica, with dreadful consequences for the quality of life and the incidence of premature death.

And it's wrecking this country. This shambles of a government has reduced our nation to the level of a cesspit, and all the Camerloons have to say is that we should be proud of "Modern" (ie Blairite) Britain.

I'm not proud of Britain, I'm disgusted with it.

And I'm disgusted with every so-called Tory who is not prepared to join the War on Sleaze.

Valedictoryan & Robbie,

There's simply no point in engaging the likes of TomTom and Alex Forsyth in debate. TomTom asked for statistics which, impressively in my view, you produced. He simply ignored facts which destroyed his earlier musings. Forsyth is just a more-eloquent-than-average troll, capable only of mindless abuse: 'Pro-drugs weirdoes' etc. etc. ad nauseam.

I've been waiting many months, Gareth, for you to engage with anyone in debate.

My brother works as a psychiatrist in a very deprived part of South London. His clinic is full of extremely, often chronically sick people, with drugs, especially hard drugs, a primary driver of their problems. How complete liberalisation of the drugs trade and the end of public education about the dangers of drugs is going to help these people is a complete mystery to me and no doubt to him too.

Who said anything about ending public education about the dangers of drugs? Erm, no one.

Swapping anecdotes about what our brothers do is not a debate, it's an episode of Oprah Winfrey.

TomTom asked for statistics which, impressively in my view, you produced.

No he did not. He quoted ONS questionnaires and noone - not even The City or BoE takes ONS seriously. what matters is Medical Statistics not asking people what they may have done.

One is market research the other is medical research. It is about as useful as having a pollster ask people if they are psychotic or BPD sufferers

Do you really not see a difference in the questions: "Have you taken drugs in the last year?" and "Do you suffer from bi-polar disorder?"? People are perfectly capable of answering the former and many will be incapable of answering the former.

Sorry, last word in last post whould, of course, have been 'latter'.

I raised it, Gareth. And your response about my brother's own real life experience is the predictable pre-pubescent jibing of the hack barrister, who hasn't outgrown the sixth form debating society. Didn't they teach you anything about evidence at law school, Gareth, or is all evidence that doesn't chime with your prejudices "anecdote"? Didn't you get any Valentines today? Even by your bile-ridden standards, you are pretty rancorous.

Look, you've now descended into posts which are nothing other than personalised attacks - and pretty viscious ones at that. Let's just ignore each other shall we?

Gareth, thanks for the e-mails which I have responded to (I hope constructively!!) offline.

Thanks Michael. Yes, I think we understand where each of us is coming from much better now!

Forsyth is just a more-eloquent-than-average troll

Wow! that's almost praise from Gareth.

As I understand it, a "troll" is someone who comes onto sites expressing totally insincere views purely in order to cause chaos.

Does that mean you suspect that I am really a fanatical Cameroon posing as a Camerophobe?

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