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« The press versus David Davis | Main | David Davis in third place in poll of Tory voters »



Neither Bush nor Blair were honest about their pasts.

Bush tried to hide a drink drive conviction, and still refuses to say if he took or dealed in cocaine. Blair was a hippy communist at Oxford and if he never took drugs then I'm a herring.

Cameron needs to extricate himself from this position by breezing past it.

Mark Fulford

As I Cameron supporter, my advice to him would be that his critics have successfully turned this into an issue that won’t go away. He should answer the question sooner rather than later.

I hope that Cameron has smoked cannabis – at least 35% of voters have sympathy with that position. I suspect, however, that the truth is far less exciting.

But the Conservative party also has to accept that it is hopelessly out of touch on this issue, and it distances us from the nation. Cameron’s job as leader will be to take us to places that we haven’t been, and in-touch on drugs issues is one of those destinations.

Cannabis is less addictive than alcohol. Like anything you smoke, it has toxins but overall its toxicity is low. No one as ever died as a direct and immediate consequence of recreational or medical use of cannabis. Worried parents should be far more concerned about their children jumping into motor cars – it is a far more real and present danger. Frankly I’m amazed that I survived my teenage driving years.

There are very powerful arguments to legalise cannabis and it is silly to dismiss them without having informed debate. The country recognises this. The question is whether the party does.

Michael Smith

The 'breezing past' strategy has its limits, though, surely?

Whatever any of us think about illegal drug use - and personally I'd have doubts about a leader who takes a selective approach to which laws he chose to obey - for a lot of voters in this country it would raise real problems.

So to restate a point raised by someone else in another thread, what would happen if we were a week from the end of the General Election, and a newspaper suddenly splashed a credible account suggesting that the leader of the Conservative Party repeated used cocaine while at university? Aside from anything else, the disruption caused to the campaign, and the distraction from attacking Labour, would be immensely damaging, don't you think?

This is why it seems so important to some of us that all candidates clarify their position on drug use, past and present. It isn't that we want a leader who has never done anything wrong - just one who recognises that what he did was wrong and is willing to be honest about what he got wrong and what he learned from it.

(I should probably stress though that I have no reason to believe that any of the leadership contenders have used hard drugs - the point here is simply one about clarity, honesty and the avoidance of future disasters.)


It is exactly a new sort of politics which says, actually I'm not going to answer that question (whatever the subject). Cameron is showing guts and skill in not playing the media game. If he were to confirm or deny drug use in his youth, we know the entire story would not be about Cameron's views on durgs today. It's time politicians stood up to media mischief making.

James Hellyer

his critics have successfully turned this into an issue that won’t go away

No, Cameron did by not answering the question. The truthful yay or nay would stopped the story and all he'd have to face now would be the possibility of the odd hostile Mail leader column.

Wat Tyler

Personally I don't care if DC did sample the odd exotic roll-up at Uni. But what I do find concerning is how he's let this story sprout legs. For a guy who's usp is his media savvy, this ain't very impressive.

Face it- his inexperience and our virtual total lack of knowledge about him means he's very high risk (as eg Rawnsley and Hames have both stressed)


Absolutely true, Wat. He's not got this story under control.

James Hellyer

If Cameron cannot deal with a simple issue like this, how can he deal with the more difficult questions that face an opposition leader?

Adrian Sherman

Even I have been surprised with the short period of time it has taken to expose Cameron as a vacuous lightweight. If he becomes leader, which I think is highly unlikely, this episode will be the template for his tenure.


no it wont you great wally

Mark Fulford

We’ll have to wait and see, but I think you’ll all be surprised at how well Cameron comes out of this.

James Maskell

The thing is that his comments suggest he has taken it. Of course I dont know for fact and I am not accusing him of it but his responses have indicated he has something to hide. He seems a nice guy and all but this has only gotten so big because he wouldnt answer the question straight, as Wat Tyler says above.

As I said yesterday, the public will probably forgive him. Its only natural that he wouldnt want the public to know. Its only natural that when in younger days you would probably try drugs. The problem appears when you want to be Leader of the Opposition and the media is on you all the time. Cameron must've foreseen that the media would drag this out. It wasnt too long ago that Cherie Blair grovvelled so desperately to the public for forgiveness because the questions werent answered sooner.

If anything this will teahc him one big lesson, dont try to ignore direct questions from the media. Ignore it and the story will only get bigger.

Adrian Sherman

So let me see, Cameron being deliberately evasive and slippery is all part of a "cunning plan". dear oh dear, LOL.

The press have chewed up and spat out far bigger and more formidable fish than Cameron, so if he really believes he can single-handidly take on the fourth estate by refusing to answer a straight question, then he's obviously delusional and arrogant.

Ben O

Just out of interest, who do you support in the leadership elections Mr Sherman?


This is being blown well out of hand, nobody outside of the conservative right cares if someone smoked a bit of weed 15years ago.

I was at that meeting and Rawnsley's interview was bloody awful, he relentlessly attacked Cameron's background and personal issues without once trying to engage with him as a politician.

This situation is daft every aspiring politician must be asked the same idiotic questions that don't matter. For christ sake we are electing the leader of the conservative party in 2005, not 1988 when he was at oxford.


If an interviewer asked Cameron if he had ever taken heroine, I wonder if he'd give the same evasive answer. I expect he'd deny it outright because he certainly wouldn't want people to get that idea. His failure to answer the questions put to him must suggest he doesn't much care if people do think he took cannabis? Has anyone asked him about cocaine yet?

Ordinarily I wouldn't be in favour of rummaging through a candidate's history to this level, but this has now become an issue, and it could potentially come back to haunt us if the tabloids can find any Uni friends willing to dish the dirt.

Michael Portillo, to his credit, made sure the party knew about his potentially embarrasing headlines before standing for leader. Cameron should follow his lead and be honest with the party if he aspires to lead it.

Adrian Sherman

Well, far be it for me to upset liberal/left sensibilties but I have never taken illegal drugs of any kind and I managed to enjoy my university days. My father, who was in his 20s in the 1960s has never indulged.

This may seem strange outside the hedonistic, decadent and privileged world of W11, W8 and Sloane country but drugs are a menace to society and those who have crossed the line must repent, as George Bush has done.

I long for the day when drug pushers are swinging from lamposts and the metropolitan trendies who reckon it's alright to do the odd line of charlie are dumped on the Easterhouse Estate, Glasgow.

This issue won't go away, nor should it, IMHO.

Selsdon Man

"This may seem strange outside the hedonistic, decadent and privileged world of W11, W8 and Sloane country".

Socialist envy in the Conservative Party!

Ben O

Again, just out of interest, who do you support in the leadership elections Mr Sherman?


blimey what a chip you have. I would have thought the best thing you could do Adrian my old chum is go away, smoke a spliff and look at issues as they really are instead of this prejudicial clap trap that your chip is bringing to the debate. OK Dave went to Eton and Oxford but give the lad some slack and judge him on some real issues as to whether he can be a good PM as opposed to this non-issue where you are damned if you do and damned if you dont. Frankly it is way too early to slag him off the way you are doing and as has just been proved if it is because you are as narrow minded as you seem then seriously go take some drugs, fall in love and have a nice time and come back in a couple of years. Would do you the world of good, honestly.

James Hellyer

The real issue is that David Cameron has proved he is incapable of handling the media by answering a simple question. If Davis delivering a dull speech casts doubt on his ability to lead and inspire, this casts doubt on what Cameron has sold as his virtue: good presentation.


We've had years of the media debasing politics by reducing evrything to rude, aggressive, personal 'did you / didn't you' questioning. It's time politicians stood up to smug interviewers by saying, actually that's none of your business and I'm not going to answer it. People will respect it.

Michael McGowan

I'm surprised Fox doesn't make more of this. He is clearly someone who is more than capable of having a good time, so he's hard to dismiss by the Cameron Liberation Front as some ageing reactionary. Yet he, much more than Cameron, has pointed out how appallingly the mentally ill are treated in this country and what is one of the biggest causes of mental illness? Drug taking.

If Cameron smoked canabbis, he should admit it. Most people don't care and at the moment, his approach is looking weaselly. But he would do himself a power of good if he and his camp followers were less nonchalant about the bill in terms of human misery that flows from drug abuse. I believe in decriminalising cannabis but I certainly don't think it's safe. The links with schizophrenia are very disturbing. The fact that it hasn't actually killed anybody is simply a glib answer to a complex question. It's also highly amusing how the liberal/left demonise tobacco but venerate pot.

James Maskell

People might respect it but it doesnt actually do anything to dispel the rumour. It just justifies the rumour.

Selsdon Man

Mr Cameron is not the first Tory politician to have smoked the weed - remember those (including those on the right) who admitted doing so at university after Ms Widdecombe's conference speech. If you attack Cameron, you should attack the others, some of whom are supporting right-wing candidates.

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