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Comments

michael

Are we already seeing a new sort of politics emerge with David Cameron? Well done DC for saying, actually I'm not going to say if I took drugs, because it isn't anyone's business. Respect!

Daniel Vince-Archer

"Well done DC for saying, actually I'm not going to say if I took drugs, because it isn't anyone's business."

I beg to differ. The scourge of drugs is one of the biggest problems facing British society and we should be looking to our leaders to set an example of how to deal with the issue in a mature and responsible manner. If Cameron does manage to become Conservative leader, his personal position and experience vis-a-vis {sic?} drugs will form part of the frame of reference for the Conservative stance on the drugs issue. If he feels that his personal stance and experience on such an important issue is a non-issue, then he shouldn't be trying to become leader of our party and this country.

Henry Mackintosh

It's as simple as this:

Cameron has every right not to tell us which drugs, if any, he's taken;

those of who who feel an interest in the answer to that question have every right to do so as well!

I for one am making note of Cameron's continued refusal to answer (see e.g. the Mail this morning), and am making my own conclusions. These, naturally, are far worse than would be if Cameron would just come out with a straight answer. Or to put that another way: I do not think he smoked dope at Oxford.

If Cameron gets through to the constituency party membership and thinks that this won't still be an issue, he is a very foolish candidate. But then there's more than a whiff of 'who cares what the little people think?' to the Cameron campaign thus far.

James Maskell

I dont think the problem with Cameron is so much about the act of taking the drugs. Its what it says about Cameron to the public. Firstly it might damage his credibility in the truth teling stakes. He wont answer the tough questions straight and instead tried to avoid those questions. Secondly the trust issue over important policy issues since he has changed his mind. I think he did take drugs but wants to avoid the presumption that he'll be seen as someone who will avoid telling the truth if telling the truth will hurt his case.

Jack Stone

If taking drugs in your younger days, having the odd gay affair or doing one of the many things people do when there young that they regret when there older is going to bar someone from the leadership all I can say is thah the party will so restrict its choice it will find it impossible to find a man or woman who as it in them to get the party back into power.

Henry Cook

Look, when DC was young and irresponsible, he was young and irresponsible. Can we just drop it now?!

Daniel Vince-Archer

Jack I can't believe you're comparing a gay affair to knowingly and willingly breaking the law. Congratulations on yet another ridiculous but offensive post.

malcolm

Blimey!For the first time ever I find myself agreeing with Jack Stone! The most pertinent comment 'though is Henry Cooks,this subject really isn't that important.

James Maskell

Its not that important that a leadership contender isnt being completely honest and avoids answering direct questions? If Cameron did take drugs then he should be honest with all of us about it. We know what happens in Universities and people will most likely forgive him for it. He wouldnt be the first to have admitted to it.

malcolm

I agree Jamws, but I also don't think it's important to know what he did at University.What is important are his ideas for a drugs policy going forward.It is on those that he should be judged.
Personally I tend to favour those that that believe we should fight the war on drugs as hard as possible and punish those who deal in them as harshly as we would treat murderers.

tom

I agree that those caught dealing should be dealt with harshly but every time I think about war on drugs I think plan colombia and it is terrifying. Drugs are just another one of those things that people are going to find ways of doing. The solution has to be long term over 20 years and getting into peoples heads making them understand that it aint big or clever to take them in the first place, but criminalising them just like criminalising boozers means that you create an instant cache. I take the point that those societies that legalise drugs dont have the stats necessarily to back them up but this issue is SO complex. Amsterdam has become an international mecca for smuggling because it is on its own and the rest of the EU has not followed suit. Sweden can ban drugs much more easily because it is much more isolated (as well as having a much more educated/intelligent population). This issue needs radical ideas because the present ones are not working. Buying drugs anywhere in this country is like buying an ice cream. Banning them does not work and if there is a viable alternative it should not be judged for many years because it is attitudes and society that need to change. Educate the people properly and you may find that getting mashed up at the weekend becomes passe rather than the current popular activity for the 1m people that take recreational drugs every weekend that it is at the moment.

Adrian Sherman

This drugs episode will only re-inforce the impression that Cameron, far from wanting a new kind of straight politics, is just another in a long line of slippery and evasive politicians.

The Cornerstone Group will really have it in for him now, good! His honeymoon period didn't last long did it? 3 days. LOL

H Mulholland

Didn't David Cameron, earlier on in this campaign, claim to be the "real" something? Now what was it? It seemed like a smug, Notting HIll in-joke at the time.

O well, I'm beginning to suspect that the Party *will* be sticking with nasty foreign lager after all! I mean, how much longer is Cameron going to be able to go on refusing to answer this question and stay even semi-credible?

Daniel Vince-Archer

"This drugs episode will only re-inforce the impression that Cameron, far from wanting a new kind of straight politics, is just another in a long line of slippery and evasive politicians."

Just like the man he seeks to emulate, the 'pretty straight kind of guy' Tony Blair.

James Maskell

Lets not be too harsh on Cameron though. I know Im critical about it but we cant forget that he knows its very important to the campaign. The media would have a field day if he says he did. It would help the Heineken man...not my particular taste though. Im more of a Carlsberg Conservative.

Henry Cook

The problem is that when you start delving into someone's personal life long before they entered politics, then there's no stopping it, and that is why I think maybe Cameron is right not to answer. There are many other things which could be asked - did he drink alcohol before he was 18? did he have sex before marriage? did he ever buy cigarettes or smoke before he was old enough? has he ever been caught speeding on camera? has he ever not paid for a train ticket? has he skipped a day of work calling in sick, when really he wanted to watch the footie? These are all things he may well have done, but you know what? Neither I nor I suspect the public care. They are trivialities, strictly beyond the law (apart from sex before marriage, clearly) but most people commit something along these lines at some point in there lives. Maybe he did have a drag of cannabis in his youth, but at least half of all students (more from what I see now at Cambridge) do at some point. By not answering he shows that it is beyond the realms of what is relevant. Someone said he would not be the first to admit it - surely he'd be the first aspiring PM/leader of the Opposition to admit it, the first Tory leader, the first prospective privy councillor. You can bet your bottom dollar Tony Blair smoked weed at some point, but no-one inquires, or cares.

Henry Mackintosh

Other Henry -

There's NO evidence, not even of the most circumstantial sort, that Blair ever smoked dope at Oxford. In fact, as all his biographers (and friends from the time who have spoken about him) agree, Blair was notable for avoiding the early 70s drugs thing.

But I'll be as stark as this: if someone whispered to me, "Blair did coke while at Oxford", and that then slow-burned into a news story, the Prime Minister would end up having to answer the question: did you, or didn't you?

Henry Cook

Well no there's no evidence, but neither was there any evidence that Cameron smoked dope, until he was asked and people drew their own conclusions. The point is Blair hasn't been asked because it isn't relevant. Obviously if evidence emerged that the Prime Minster was a hard drug user at uni (cannabis is not a hard drug, and as i said before, is probably used at some point by over half of students) then it would be a different matter. No such evidence has surfaced about Cameron either, so the question shouldn't be asked. It doesn't seem to me that any of the posts on here, however nutty, are accusing Cameron of being a hard drug addict at Oxford.

Adrian Sherman

For some reason, rather like slick Willie, Blair can get away with it. In that respect he's something of a genius.

If 'Tory Blair' reckons he can be as evasive and Blair AND get away with it, than methinks he's being delusional. Tone (as much as I loathe him) is a phenomenon, Cameron is not, which is why the drug thing will be a contributory factor to his ultimate failure.

David Walker

The problem with making the point that DC deserves to have a private life is his desire to make one side of his private life:eg. his family, a huge part of his campaign for election. If he wants to keep part of his 'personal story' away from the press then I suggest he keeps the more voter friendly parts of his 'personal story' away too. He is trying to have his cake and eat it. This will not do.

Henry Cook

His private life 20 years ago is very different to his private life now - surely that is a statement of the obvious?? And his private life now is not a 'huge' part of his campaign - he did not mention his son/wife in either his conference speech or campaign launch. I honestly think these attacks are going nowhere - Cameron haters should focus on his real disadvantages and not nit-pick.

Michael Smith

Henry, I think the 'drugs issue' goes right to the heart of what many critics suspect are Cameron's 'real disadvantages'.

The whole Kate Moss saga recently highlighted the argument that it just isn't acceptable to have one sort of policy on drugs for people who are rich / beautiful / otherwise privileged, and another for those who are poor / ordinary / perhaps seriously disadvantaged (and, let's be practical, who might have to e.g. resort to violent crime to raise the cash for a bit of blow).

For better or worse, the suspicion exists that while at Oxford, and maybe later, Cameron used illegal drugs. If he didn't, it might be a good idea for him to state this clearly. On the other hand, if he did, and if evidence emerges regarding drug use, he might find that there isn't a lot of public sympathy, at least within the electorate he needs right now (i.e. the rank and file of the Conservative Party).

The problem isn't about 'addiction' - I don't think anyone believes Cameron has used hard drugs recently. It really is about arrogance, elitism, maybe feeling that it's okay to do a line or two after a Bullingdon dinner but not okay to do a rock of crack in a stairwell on a run-down council estate when you have little prospect of getting anywhere in the future. It's about thinking that drugs are okay for successful middle class people, because 'they can handle them' (i.e. can pay for them without nicking stuff - the other sorts of damage are just as real) whereas for everyone else it's different.

It's exactly the sort of thing that makes Cameron look as if he comes from a very parochial, blinkered little world, for all his talk of being modern and relevant. The rule of law isn't just for the proles, after all - it's for everyone.

So if Cameron did use drugs in the past - and this goes for his close associates too - I think he ought to learn from the Kate Moss story and express his regrets about it sooner rather than later.

Henry Cook

"It really is about arrogance, elitism, maybe feeling that it's okay to do a line or two after a Bullingdon dinner but not okay to do a rock of crack in a stairwell on a run-down council estate when you have little prospect of getting anywhere in the future."

No. Its about growing up, experimenting, being a kid without thinking 'ooh, i shouldn't do this cos it will harm my becoming leader of the opposition', making one's own mistakes and learning from them. As a popular singer says 'I've got a right to be wrong' - we all meander, even you, and I believe we become stronger better people for it. DC has already said he's done many things he 'regrets'. That's enough, specifics are irrelevant. And since when was he sniffing coke? And since when has he said its okay to 'do a line' after a Bullingdon dinner? I'm a student right now - should I say to one of my friends who once had a spliff when they were very drunk, "you'll never be Prime Minister now, you're unfit to succeed." Are we to be forever stained by errors of the past? Its complete and utter nonsense. And this is my last post on this issue, because chips on the shoulder can never be repaired.

Michael Smith

Henry, people may have 'a right to be wrong' but they don't necessarily have the right to be a future Prime Minister of this country.

I don't expect Cameron to have said, as a student, 'I won't try cocaine because if anyone comes forward with evidence of this years later, it may harm my chances of becoming leader of the Conservative Party'.

On the other hand, I'd hope that a future leader of our Party might have had enough judgement as a student to realise that using hard drugs is illegal, dangerous and a bad idea. (Believe me, it was perfectly possible to have quite a lot of fun at Oxford in the 1980s without using hard drugs.) And I'd also hope that a future leader of our Party might, as a 39-year old, have enough humility not only to admit vaguely to some past 'mistakes', but to spell out what these were and why he regrets them. Otherwise, how are we supposed to know that he has learned from his mistakes?

Finally, since the issues keep becoming confused somehow, I really am talking about hard drugs here, not the odd spliff - since several shadow cabinet members have admitted to using a bit of weed in their student days, that hardly seems a barrier to high office. (As it were.)

Ronald Collinson

Its about growing up, experimenting, being a kid without thinking 'ooh, i shouldn't do this cos it will harm my becoming leader of the opposition', making one's own mistakes and learning from them.

Obviously, he didn't know that he was to become potential Conservative leader at the time. That is hardly the point.

Cannabis is illegal. This is so because people have already made the mistake of taking it, and have found that it is harmful. There is no merit to making ones own mistakes when one can simply learn from the mistakes of others.

And 'experimenting' with the law is just as wrong. Next, you'll be advocating 'experimentation' with assault. In many cases, it would be less harmful.

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