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James Hellyer

I think the problem with "Soho" modernism is that appears to encourage lifestyle freedom choices without doing anything to strengthen the social fabric that would deter and mitigate a cycle of negative outcomes.

For example, allowing soft drug use would, I think, increase social problems. Our society has already shown that it cannot manage the consumption of already legal dangerous drugs like alcohol and tobacco. That's hardly a compelling argument for drugs legalisation.

Making other narcotics available does nothing to address social problems (that, for example, feed out binge drinking culture) but instead provides another false relief for the socially dispossessed.

On a superficial level, I suspect their credo has more resonance with our media elites and urban liberati than with anybody else.

Instead, I think conservatism has to stress a credo that strengthens the relationships and instincts of a civil society, namely the community, firms, families and individuals. That would create a stronger social framework to support increased freedom for individuals.

Dominic Charles

Prohibition does more harm than good. One needs only to look at the US in the 1920s to see this. Because narcotics are illegal, we have gangs controlling supply, fighting each other with guns for domination and endangering the lives of others. Prices are high, and so addicts are required to commit crime in order to purchase drugs; prisons are full, because a huge proportion of crime is caused by this senseless prohibition; the drugs themselves are not subject to quality control of any sort, and are often 'cut' with other substances to increase profits; and finally, the crime and health problems caused by drugs are a burden to the rest of society: unlike alcoholics and smokers, drug addicts do not pay taxes to help fund police and medical care.

If people want to take drugs, they should be allowed to. Personal freedom in every form is certainly a creed that the Conservative Party should endorse.

James Hellyer


The Police Federation disputes that legalisation would cut crime. ‘This assumes that the powerful international drug cartels would simply fade away into the night. More likely scenarios are that they would fight to maintain their lucrative street trading.'

In any case, the moral and ethical question still remains: is it acceptable to tolerate something which is proven to damage both the health and judgement of individuals, and can also affect relationships with families, friends and the wider society?

"Personal freedom in every form is certainly a creed that the Conservative Party should endorse."

But what about the consequences of those freedoms? Do we end up with a sink-or-swim society where people have to face up to the consequences of their actions?

If not and the state continues to provide a safety net, then the personal freedoms are actually derogated to the state because it suffers the consequences.

Alternatively self-destructive behaviour could be tolerated without providing a safety-net for its victims. I really can't see that the electorate would accept that as an outcome.

Surely a strong and supportive civil society is an essential pre-requisite for increased personal freedoms?

Dominic Charles

The street trading of the cartels would go legitimate, and/or would die out in time; just as happened with alcohol prohibiton. The drug cartels would be unable to charge high prices if drugs were available legally in shops, and would be better quality too.
Certainly drugs can have a highly detrimental affect on many users (though by no means all); but so does alcohol and tobacco. I'm sure that there are many families destroyed by the ills of alcohol. I don't, however, believe that it is the government's responsibility to try to change people's behaviour. There are many other ways in which lives can be wrecked.


"Do we end up with a ... society where people have to face up to the consequences of their actions?"

I'm sorry: do you want to run that by me again? Are you seriously trying to propose that people should NOT be responsible for their actions?? Do you believe that it is the responsibility of the state to come in when the baby has broken its toys, and wipe its chin and kiss its troubles away? Is this the sort of society in which you want to live - "Oh, sorry, I've fucked up my life. Sort it out now, please - and give me some money while you're at it".

I strongly believe in personal responsibility. Before the advent of the welfare state, we had charities and friendly societies to protect those who had fallen on hard times; these are proven to have been much more effective and much more conducive to a caring society than the government can ever be.

No doubt that weaning the masses from the welfare state will be a long and tiring process. It is an addiction more insidious and destructive than that of any narcotic. It would require patience, reasoned and clear arguments which would be intelligible to the 'ordinary man', and it would require a good understanding of the press.

Finally, we lack a supportive civil society because helping people is considered to be "the government's job"; it is precisely because of the welfare state that we do not have any 'society' left any more - which is precisely the point that Mrs. Thatcher was trying to make with her famously misquoted and misconstrued "society" remarks.

We cannot have a strong and supportive civil society until people are weaned from the safety net of the welfare state and forced to look out for themselves.

James Hellyer

"Certainly drugs can have a highly detrimental affect on many users (though by no means all); but so does alcohol and tobacco."

And as I said, our society's failure to control and manage the consumption of those harmful drugs is hardly a convincing argument for legalising another harmful drug.

"I'm sorry: do you want to run that by me again?"

It's very simple. I was asking if you proposed people should bear full responsibility for their actions or whether the state would continue to provide a safety net.

"Are you seriously trying to propose that people should NOT be responsible for their actions??"

No. I'm saying that in a democracy where people demand action to fix social ills, removing the safety net offered by the state will never gain widespread support. Indeed it would worry many vulnerable people who rely on state services.

"Before the advent of the welfare state, we had charities and friendly societies to protect those who had fallen on hard times; these are proven to have been much more effective and much more conducive to a caring society than the government can ever be."
I agree. However the point is that we don't have that supply of societal support services any more and they won't reappear overnight.

Before we can have a smaller state, we need to deal with the causes of social disintegration. Until we have a stronger society, that provides its own support networks, I can't see the electorate going to than ballot box to reject the support the state until they can see civil society offers a functional alternative.

Conservatives need to address the demand for government services before they can take those services away. We need to strengthen the elements of society the welfare state has weakened so they can take the state's place.

For example we need to strengthen the family and prevent crime, so people have a stable social framework and communities can take control of the areas they live in.

Before we can really shrink the state, we need to rebuild society.

steve shackleton

Before we can really shrink the state, we need to rebuild society.

What people fail to realise is that it is the growth of the state that is the cause behind the collapse in society. People have been brought up to believe that whatever happens is not their fault. Voluntary organisations are replaced by goverment.

Shrinking the state and treating people like adults will improve society.

If the conservative party have any sense they will realise that the middle class luvvies will never vote tory being in the main left wing statists (who get great moral comfort feeling soory for all the poor), While the working classes are naturally conservative and will both benefit from and support for more freedoms, lower taxes, less govt, locking up the crims

James Hellyer

"Shrinking the state and treating people like adults will improve society."

While I agree with this, the problem is that the state has eroded civil society institutions, so they just aren't there to offer support to the vulnerable if the existing state support was withdrawn.

That's why as a precursor to any shrinkage in state services, you would first have to promote and reinforce civil society institutions.

I think Rudi Guiliani's advocacy of zero tolerance policing is one example of how the state can rebuild civil institutions. Zero tolerance of everything from graffiti upwards, restored effected communities' sense of peace and order. It enabled people to take the areas they lived in back from criminals and build communities.

But of course, this policy relied upon increased police and prison expenditure in the short to median term.

Julius

"That's why as a precursor to any shrinkage in state services, you would first have to promote and reinforce civil society institutions."

"You" in the sentence is just a weasel word for the Government. And since it is the Government that is the great destroyer of civil society, this makes about as much sense as telling a fat man to lose weight by eating more.

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Already the face of advertisements for Burberry and Giorgio Armani, the model has also starred in all the big name catwalk shows over New York and London Fashion Weeks. It is rumoured that she is also in talks to design a range of clothing for Topshop.



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spoke openly of her heartbreak when she split with Brit actor last year. But it seems the on-again, off-again romance might just be back on, after the pair were spotted cosying up on a shopping date in LA.

Dominic and first met on the set of Mama Mia in 2008, and quickly became one of Hollywood's hottest young couples.

But the couple split in May last year, with revealing she got her heart broken ‘pretty hard’ when she realised the Brit actor was still involved with his ex-girlfriend.

‘I was just kind of foolishly thinking that the two of them were done and Dom and I were involved. But we weren't really as involved as I thought,’ she explained at the time.

After they split, went on to have romances with True Blood actor Alexander Skarsgard, and most recently, A-lister .

The pair were spied on a string of Hollywood dates after meeting at a Halloween party in November, but called time on their relationship two weeks ago.

Now it seems could be seeking solace in the arms of her wayward ex, after they were spotted on an LA outing.

She and Dominic were spied browsing the rails at Burberry and Barney's New York, before sneaking off in the same car.

Watch this space...

Would you like to see Dominic and reunite? Let us know in the comments box below.

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Established in 1851, Aquascutum – like Burberry - is a traditional British brand, which has found a new lease of life in the Noughties.

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