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« Editorial: The Cameron Coalitions | Main | My ballot paper has arrived... »

Comments

 Ted

Barbara

We'll just have to disagree - I see DD as a strong Cabinet Minister but not a PM. DC may or may not be PM material - I agree with all those who say its a gamble - but something makes me willing to take the risk. The last time I felt that was when Mrs T came to talk to our college conservative party as a minister and I remember saying "she'd be a much better PM than Heath is" - still don't know why but she outshone Whitelaw, Pym etc in that 1:1 look you in the eye situation - nothing about policy.

Barbara wrote,

"Gareth,

So sorry you think declassifying ecstasy is cool - I won't rehearse again the dangers of ecstasy but if you think that makes Cameron cool then I can't even get into a debate with you.

You obviously don't have children."

What a very patronising, not to say disingenuous reply. Do people with children want them to go to prison for possessing an ecstasy tablet? I think not. No more than they wanted them to go to prison for possessing a joint (which no doubt you also think is terribly dangerous). Ecstasy is not nearly as dangerous as crack or heroin and should not be classified with them. If the best you can do in any debate on drugs is to play the 'I have children' card, it's a rhetorical tool that cuts no ice with me.

Your reply is disnigenuous because I did not suggest that reclassification of ecstasy was 'cool'. I suggested that opposition to reclassification, together with support for Section 28, demonstrated how out of touch DD is with the views of younger voters. I continue to maintain that.

No doubt we'll now be inundated with young fogeys on here who think it entirely reasonable to take what they laughably call a 'hard line' on drugs and to discriminate against young gay people. Those people only exist in the tory party and/or the evangelical churches and are entirely unrepresentative of the young voters whose support we need to win. Listen to them if you find it comforting to have your own prejudices reinforced, but don't be surprised to be laughed at when you try and get the votes of the under-35's.

Barbara Villiers

It merely shows your ignorance. Ecstasy is hugely dangerous both on a physical and psychological basis and I have a huge amount of experience working with people who have done drugs - everything from heroin to cannabis so I have first hand experience.

If the fear of a prison record would deter my daugher from indulging (in addition to proper education about the effects) than I consider that a good job.

As far as discriminating against gay people, you clearly don't know what you are on about. Several of those on Davis' team are gay.

Bringing politics to the lowest common denominator is not the way to attract young people nor is patronising them by approving of things which are dangerous.

Besides the physical risk (death), the psychological risks of E are many - depression, paranoia and delusions among others. Now if you think that is harmless then you have a lot to learn.

Take your callow views to Leah Bett's parents and see what they have to say.

Barbara Villiers

No, I am not playing the parent card but the health professional card as one who has worked extensively with those who have taken everything from heroin to cannabis and E.

The dangers of E are well known - death, depression, paranoia, delusions and more. If the fear of a police record helps (along with education) acts as a deterrent then fine by me.

You might want to take your rather callow views to Leah Betts' parents and see what a reception you get.

As to gay people, there are a couple of gay people in David Davis' team so your impressions of him are dead wrong.

Sean Fear

"Listen to them if you find it comforting to have your own prejudices reinforced, but don't be surprised to be laughed at when you try and get the votes of the under-35's. "

Personally, I'm in favour of liberalising our drugs laws, but I'd suggest you're well wide of the mark in believing that there is overwhelming support for that viewpoint among younger voters.

In terms of votes, the key group to get is actually middle income, middle aged people, who are both very numerous, and very likely to actually vote (unlike the under 35s).

Richard Carey

"They may like to come over to Nottingham, and there they would see that the most socially inclusive thing we could do is be tough on crime."

I just wanted to say "hear, hear" to this one! It is, as you say, absolutely obvious that those blighted most by crime are those struggling, perhaps in run-down housing, to do the best for their families and lift themselves put of poverty.

By the way, Jonathan, thanks for attending the Lincs Area conference on Saturday. I didn't get chance to have a word with you, but obviously recognised your name (and stance!) from here. You and Roger Helmer were both highly effective champions for your respective candidates in our leadership debate, and the whole day was a very positive event for the Party locally!

Gareth

Barbara, are you really asserting that E and cannabis are as dangerous as heroin and crack? If, as you claim, you know anything at all about the effects of these drugs, you will know that the former 2 are considerably less dangerous than the latter 2. Recognising that fact, it is sensible to place them in a lower category of seriousness for the purposes of the criminal law. No one is saying they are without risk, hence they remain illegal, it is a question of degree.

Frankly, if E was as dangerous as you absurdly insist it is, at least a fifth of under 30's would be dead or in mental hospitals right now.

Politically, it's not even sensible politics to insist on higher penalties for possession of E and cannabis. Paretns know their children will experiment with these drugs and know that the most likely side effect of use is a criminal record. Quite rightly, they don't want their children's lives blighted by that.

Your jibe about 'speaking to Leah Betts' parents' is a rhetorical tool worthy of the Sun or the Daily Mail, not an intelligent debating site. It merely suggests you have no better argument to muster than the anecdotal or the emotional.

As for 'callow', I wish. I'm 33.

Gareth

Barbara,

I forgot to deal with your 'there are gay people working for the Davis campaign' point. Davis vigorously supported Section 28 and voted for its retention. That's a documented fact. If some gay people choose to overlook his appalling record on equal rights for gay people, so be it. Others will not be so forgiving.

Barbara Villiers

I am not going to rehearse my well founded arguments on ecstasy - you can check out the other sections of the blog.

As far as the gay members of David Davis' team, they obviously have a bigger field of vision than you.

You may be 33 but you have the arguments of a 17 year old. My teenage son and daughter frankly have more sense.

As far as your views on Leah Betts, you have proved to be really vile. I can't even answer you on that one without getting really abusive. You think I was nasty before? You ain't seen nothing yet.

However, I will refrain from giving you the full blast as this is a blog. If I did, you'd be reeling.

Come and have a go if you think you're tough enough.

Mark Fulford

By introducing Leah Betts to this argument you’re converting it from rational to emotional. Nobody is denying the grief felt by families of drug casualties, but you have to look at the issue as a whole, and not individual cases. I believe that our failure to adopt better harm-reduction strategies has resulted in preventable deaths, and it’s grossly unfair to brand that opinion as insensitive or uncaring.

The starting point to debate and workable solutions has to be honesty about the nature of the problem.

Barbara Villiers

Mark,

This is about peoples' lives and that IS personal. And emotional.

Education is a huge part of the process but to deny the seriousness of the effects of ecstasy is living in a fool's paradise. If cocaine is Class A then ecstasy should be too.

I am not speaking from a holier than thou perspective as Gareth seems to think. I too had 'a normal university experience' and then some so I know what I am about.

Sure not everybody who does E doesn't become psychotic but many do. We are also talking about young minds and bodies which are still forming - what is the effect on them. As I said before, if 30 somethings want to go to hell in a handbag, good luck to them but it is the young people (as in under 21's that I am concerned about.

I have lost several friends and associates though either instant od's or the effects of long term drug use. These were not on the street junkies - these were vital creative people-some of who had mortgages and families. I know others who have suffered dreadful depression, personality defects, paranoia etc. Now I also know some who have escaped unscathed but you know what? They're in a minority. Also the constant drug users I know have been affected - either physically or mentally. So this is where I am coming from - I am not some rabid Mail reader that Gareth seems to think.

As for Gareth, he really needs a sense of humour and to learn some manners. He can dish it out but he can't take it.

Sam

But Barbara, the point Gareth's makes is one of relativity - Ecstasy classification in regard to Heroin. The current message drug-users get is that taking Heroin exposes them to the same level of risk that Ecstasy poses (which they probably have tried looking at the statistics) In truth, the risks are totally diverse regarding both regarding damage to health and addictivity.

We all know Tobacco and Alcohol users who have died or suffered from related diseases, what should we do with these?

Why do so many teenagers take ecstasy despite its current classification? What would you do, because drug policy in this country simply has not worked under Tory or Labour Governments.

Mark Fulford

On basis of harm-done, ecstasy should be class B. In my mind, ecstasy users are also not as criminal as heroin users. I accept that it could be unwise to downgrade any drug but, on balance, I think it’s better for law to reflect reality. I haven’t seen any evidence that suggests the damage done by ecstasy is anything like that done by heroin. Its dangers are comparable to amphetamines (class B). On an anecdotal basis, I know more people killed or ruined by alcohol than other drugs.

However, the classification of a particular drug is minutia compared to the question: how do we prevent drugs death?

It seems impossible to prevent illegal drug trade. Even though ecstasy dealing could result in life imprisonment, ecstasy is readily available anywhere and a tablet costs about the same as a pint. The existing measures aren’t working. No matter how unpalatable, to protect life we’ve got to seriously think about controlled supply.

As for Gareth – I think you give as good as you get!

Daniel Vince-Archer

"I suggested that opposition to reclassification, together with support for Section 28, demonstrated how out of touch DD is with the views of younger voters."

Fox hunting, elitist education, gentlemen's clubs and tuition fees anyone?

 Ted

Barbara

First apologies to Dominic Grieve - didn't think he'd manage to keep enough of the party together to get the 90 days defeated without DDs' more active support (thought we'd suffer more Widdecombs) - should have had your faith!

Second - I know the debate on reclassification is irratating , you take it as a weakening in resolve but I think all the blogs above agree on the need to have an efective drugs policy that reduces the personal & social harm. My view is the present regime isn't working, if it continues MDMA rationally should be Class B but the whole classification/enforcement/treatment area needs to be revisited. No society has managed to wipe out drug use/abuse but protection of minors and minimising social harm needs to be a priority. If we start an enforceable policy from there perhaps we can begin to reduce the deaths, psychosis, family breakdowns and resultant crime - I don't know what the policy is but enforcement & treatment must play a part.

Barbara Villiers

Ted,

You speak very rationally and very well. I agree that education should play a huge part in drug policy. What I cannot stand is the comparison between E and heroin - as if danger is a relative thing. It is not. The fact that E's are as common as beer is not a valid argument for its declassification. The facile arguments being presented are infuriating - because (on this blog at least) it seems to have become a Cameron vs Davis issue. It is not.
It is much more important. It is not youth vs maturity, hipness vs squareness and that is what people like Gareth are making this about.

Again, there is a huge difference between a twenty or thirysomething doing E's (though it is still in my opinion dangerous)and a 15 year old doing it. That is what the supporters of reclassification are missing. And of keeping at A can save one young life then I am for it.

As for last night in the Commons, it was a historic night for sure. However we now need to push for the use of wiretaps in these cases and the other safeguards that will make the most of the 28 days. I know Gareth accuses me of thinking 'emotionally' but it is not true. The emotional side of me things 90 days is way too short! However rationally, I know what happened last night is the right thing.

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