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Monday, February 12, 2007 

Insert joke about Cameron and weed.

Has there ever been a bigger non-story blown out of all proportion than the simply astounding revelation that "call me Dave" smoked some of the green when he was a teenager? It was already obvious that he had experimented with drugs, possibly cocaine, and as recently ago as the 90s, and that had all been forgotten about once the Tory leadership election was over, so for this to emerge now just shows the desperateness of the Indie on Sunday in spending some of their cash on a serialisation of James Hanning and Francis Elliott's no doubt scintillating Cameron: the Rise of the New Conservative.

It would have been far more illuminating if Cameron had in fact not taken drugs. You'd have to be either a saint or a loner to get through Eton, Oxford and then years as a PR wonk for Carlton Communications without dabbling in one or more illegal substances. Some would probably think that you'd have to be taking mind-altering chemicals in order to actually get through any of them without having the kind of nervous breakdown that results in you ending up gibbering in the gutter with a shopping trolley as your shelter against the rain. Just imagine having to live with the likes of Wills 'n' Harry and their mates for 5 years, the only comfort being the daisy-chaining where you can at least pretend that it's not some rugby-loving hairy-palmed silver-spoon fed bourgeois neanderthal pulling you off, and instead just dream that it's in actual fact that gorgeous pouting Samantha, the slightly dangerous one who gets squiffy and isn't afraid to get her skin inked.

Why Cameron felt the need to comment but not to actually admit to what he did when no one is going to condemn him for inhaling in his youth is only probably going to increase the speculation. If he came out and admitted that yes, he had taken drugs, and said, amazingly, it tends to be what young people to do and that maybe we shouldn't be so eager to jump up and down on their exuberance, then he'd probably earn a lot more respect from those who couldn't give two figs about politics, the same ones he's so desperate to appeal to. If he has indeed snorted cocaine, or, heaven forbid, even taken ecstasy, then why not come out and say so? Obviously it's not going to be as easy to shake-off and play down as smoking a spliff at school, but for God's sake we need politicians who are human and do have experience other than spending their whole lives not having to worry about anything at all (just like, err, David Cameron). It's only going to be likely to come back and bite him if he has indeed done what many suspect, and it might do so just before elections when it could hurt him.

The whole issue of drugs and the Conservatives is fraught with hypocrisy. The Daily Mail, the paper so vehemently opposed to even cannabis being downgraded, is ironically the paper most likely to be read by the parents of the kids who are out at the weekend hoovering up cocaine as fast as Colombia can produce it. The journalists themselves are hardly likely to be sober and as opposed to casual drug use as their pieces and representative leaders are; one only has to remember the accusations of Lord Ashcroft about the cocaine use of hacks on the Times. It's these reactionaries who are responsible for so many potential reforms being abandoned as soon as they are mentioned; cannabis is always a "gateway" drug, schizophrenia awaits anyone who inhales, and let's not even dare suggest that giving heroin to addicts may bring down crime. How could that even be considered when law-abiding taxpayers can't even get Herceptin and other miracle cures for their ailments on the NHS?

Cameron could potentially lead a less condemnatory drugs policy, putting once and for all the lunacy of Anne Widdecombe's zero tolerance approach behind them. He has suggested that ecstasy ought to be downgraded: anathema to the Daily Mail, but common sense to anyone who has seen both the popularity and the price of the drug plummet in recent years. The hysteria of the 90s, based on a lack of understanding about both the culture surrounding it and the drug itself, could be firmly put behind us. Any chance of this for the moment is gone, with Cameron pathetically forced to suggest that he has wrong to so much as take a puff. Once we get beyond the point-scoring and stupidity, we might finally embrace the reality that prohibition and prosecution of minor users of recreational drugs is both a waste of time and more damaging to the person in the long run than the substances and chemicals themselves are.

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