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Countdown to Gordon Brown

« Theresa May declares for David Cameron | Main | Now we know why DD has problems with the media... »

Comments

Alastair Matlock

Whether or not David Cameron used cannabis at University (approaching 20 years ago) is relevant to his ability to be leader of the Conservative Party today? Surely you jest! Matthew D'Ancona had it right. This is a sideshow and not relevant to any of the issues facing the party today, which is what MPs should be worried about, lest we look into Mr Brazier, or anyone else's past.

malcolm

Julian Brazier didn't do our party any favours in 2001 and if MPs refused to support Portillo because of this more fool them.They've had four years to reflect and hopefully regret their decision.
Similarly what David Cameron did or didn't do at University is absolutely irrevelant to the decision before us.I agree with you all that matters is what he believes now and what he proposes to do about drugs as a potential PM.

Jack Stone

The drug policies of the last thirty years have clearly failed so I welcome the the new more mature thinking that David Cameron is putting forward.
Sadly I think those who are making his views on drugs an issue are doing it to try to damage DC rather than to oppose his views.
Its the sort of low politics expected of those around Davis and the headbangers of the Cornerstone group.

Alastair Matlock

Indeed. The Davisites will be egging him on though. They must becoming more desperate by the day if they engage in this.

AnotherNick

I understand the logic in refusing to comment whether you took drugs or not in the past. If the answer was "no" then that means any future question about the past that the candidate won't answer indicates the answer would have been yes.

That being said it is perfectly legitimate to question a leadership contender (although hopefully all 4 of them) on their policies towards the drug problem now. As a Cameron supporter I'd like to see him give a clear message on this issue & as someone who supports a hardline on drugs I hope I'll find it acceptable.

What concerns me is that those opposed to Cameron have taken this issue like a dog with a bone. It is fair to ask the question of all the candidates, but lets not make this a witch-hunt against Cameron.

tom

sorry editor you have got it wrong on this one. Big side show. Drugs issue is much more complex than you make it and you are being overly conservative about this issue. There are more radical ways of solving our drug problem than just being 'tough'. Drugs = big problem. Being just tough has been tried and hasnt worked more radical solutions should be considered (note the word 'considered') in order to sort it out. For that I am very grateful for DC for being brave enough as a Conservative to have an open mind on the home affairs committee. Yes it may worry people that shooting galleries are being considered but it would worry me more if they were not. Big up to DC for having an open mind about the issue. You should too.

James Hellyer

The question has been asked of all candidates. All bar one answered no.

Alastair Matlock

Absolutely. The old maxim about people living in glass houses should be uppermost in the minds of people who want to make mischief with this.

wasp

Shock horror a politician that might understand some of the problems of drugs without dismissing drugs as simply evil.

Editor I don't understand how you can take offense at Cameron refusing to answer a question about an occasional joint, yet you can be an enthusiastic supporter of an American president who is almost certainly an alcoholic who has taken (and possibly dealt in cocaine).

Wat Tyler

As I said yesterday, I don't care whether he puffed at uni. It's much more troubling that he's let the story get away like this. What are his spinmeisters doing?

But I must admit I haven't studied his Home Affairs pronouncements on drugs policy. Maybe I should be more concerned than I have been.

RobC

Ed. I think you've answered your own question.

"educational failure, crime and social exclusion" are not terms I would use to descibe David Cameron; and therefore either a) he didn't take illegal drugs at University and/or b) the impact of drugs on society is a complex issue that requires a thorough discussion.

My second point is that David Cameron is right to draw the line about which questions of his personal life he answers. It would be niave to think that if he admitted taking illeagal drugs that that would be the end of it. The next question would be when, why, how much, what drugs. What next?

There is a link here to Tony Blair who decline to say whether his son had or hadn't been given the MMR jab.

My final point is, that the Conservatives have a well thought out, holistic policy on drugs that covers both prevention and rehab

TOM

Politically he will take flak because people like you say he will take flak. It IS A SIDE SHOW and you are just contributing to that. Whether Cameron had a smoke when he was a student like so many people have done does not make him any less able to deal with the issue of drugs 20 years later. The question is will Cameron ask the right questions about the issue and have the right judgements as a result. The answer to the first is Yes because he was open minded enough on the Home Affairs Committee to ask sensible questions that didn't pigeon hole himself as a regimented conservative politician out of touch with Britain today. The answer to the second question is not going to be found out today when he either admits to having a spliff in his youth or not, tomorrow, next week or next month (unless he is caught up in some House of Commons dealing sting - unlikely) - it is only going to be found when if he becomes PM the policy that he puts forward works. And we are not going to know that for years. Please move on to real issues and dont bollocks the first chance the Tories have of becoming a party of real appeal to the modern British electorate.

Editor

Wasp and others: I am not really concerned about his past. I am very concerned at the views he held when on the Home Affairs Select Cttee (linked to in my post). They need clarification.

Michael McGowan

Well said, ed. A lot of modernisers don't really care about the calamitous social consequences of drug consumption or family breakdown. Their uber-libertarian stance is childish and irresponsible.... and I say this as someone whose bias is strongly libertarian. David Willetts (apparently a "headbanger" according to Jack Stone) once said that libertarianism was a political philpsophy for childless immortals. Presumably, that's one of the reasons why he is still backing Davis, who seems to inhabit the real world outside London's more gilded postal codes.

Kris

Drugs are an important issue. Drugs are responsible for more crime than anything else. By solving the drug problem we could devastatingly reduce crime, particularly in inner city areas and improve everyones life. I agree that whether Mr Cameron has experienced drugs more fully than some is not really important, it is important how he intends to deal with the issue today. I can accept that there needs to be a new approach, but i don't want to see Drugs being treated like some social faux pas rather than the evil criminal activity it truly is. If we treat a crime by the amount of damage done to society, then drug dealers would be given the same sentences as serial killers, and thats the kind of deterent needed in my humble opinion. I would love to vote Cameron, i believe he is the person the party needs to reconnect to the country as a whole, but his policy on drugs needs to be made clear, because any recklessness on this issue and our broken society will be killed off completely.

wasp

Modernizing isn't and has never been about drugs, it is about making the conservative party popular. Something this debate will not help.

Guido Fawkes

"The question has been asked of all candidates. All bar one answered no." says James Hellyer. Second time I have heard this, but I think you'll find that KC refused, on principle, to answer it as well. Has he changed his postion?

Our editor, Tim Montgomerie, has been very subtle here, he put the issue into the limelight and like a good tabloid hack he gave it "legs" and the cover of a real story by dredging up some comments Cameron made to the Home Affairs Select Committee. A smear under the cover of earnest "concern" on policy.

Brilliant piece of dark arts work that would make Mandelson in his heyday proud. Well done. Now wash your hands.

tom

Yes I absolutely agree but the important thing about this to my mind is that a leader should be able to look at this issue with an open mind whether it be bringing back the death penalty for dealing to state provision. Radical change is required but the fact that DC is able to break out of traditional tough on drugs stuff should be commended not seen as a sign of concern.

James Hellyer

I think you'll find that KC refused, on principle, to answer it as well.

Not acdcording to The Telegraph or the BBC.

Ben O

Going off topic, especially as I really think this is a bogus topic, Bernard Jenkins has just come out for David Cameron on Sky News...

michael

I'm so heartened by the majority of comments above. It's dirty politics to take a serious issue of debate, turn it into a 'did you /didn't you' personal issue and try to shaft a candidate on that basis.

Jack Stone

I agree entirely with the previous comment. People should be judged on the merits of there policies and the quality of there character. Not a side show which this drugs issue undoubtably is.

Mark Fulford

Ed, do you think we could have some Clarke and Fox stories? We haven't had one in a week (excluding the T Shirt), and I'm sure they've done something interesting in that time!

John G

I think that ed has got some undeserved stick for this story. Some have misunderstood it as an anti-Cameron article for his comments (or lack of them) and history on drugs.

That's a clear misinterpretation. It explains why, regardless of whether DC puffed at uni, his liberal background on drugs could be a major issue to many members of the Parliamentary party, and therefore that it is reasonable to know how he would lead the Party on the issue.

I'm all for that. I think similar questions could be asked of the others, but drugs are one of the major problems at the moment (whether that's them themselves or the way they are treated by law/politicians is another argument) and so some transparency is certainly necessary.

EU Serf

Mark if you want Clarke stories I know of somewhere that does them.

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