UK Drug Strategy 2010 – A Plan To Fail
Gone are the days when central Government tells communities and the public what to do.
Rt. Hon. Theresa May, MP, Home Secretary, December 2010
A slim volume of treacle-like and turgid social worker-speak shot through with a few strands of sharp hypocrisy. See here.
A disappointment? Not really, it’s pretty much what I expected – an authoritarian, moralistic smokescreen behind which the government will do what it wants with no regard whatsoever for the views or the welfare of the people. It stinks.
It claims to be radical in that it turns away from reducing the harms caused by drugs and instead aims to force abstinence. In other words, do as we say or suffer the consequences. It is, in fact, a medieval solution to a 21st century problem. It seems that the British government no longer cares about the harm caused by drugs. All it cares about is that you STOP! This is the ultimate exposition of Nancy Reagan’s discredited “Just Say No” campaign because it really is “just” say “no” – no other option exists. This from a government that advocates giving people methadone to “treat” cannabis use. Can you believe it? That isn’t medieval. It’s prehistoric – or perhaps better described as mid 20th century, a sort of Dr Mengele method.
I give Ms May credit for one thing. She mentions alcohol alongside drugs in the first sentence of her foreword. That is progress but from then on there is little of any value. Nothing that you couldn’t have copied from any out of date A level textbook on social work.
The laughable assertion quoted above that the government doesn’t tell us what to do is just absurd. Never has there been a more hard line approach to the drugs issue. See Edwin Stratton’s article in The Guardian here which reveals just how draconian, anti-civil liberties and severe this government is.
In the penultimate paragraph of her foreword, Ms May acknowledges that there were calls during consultation on the strategy for “liberalisation and decriminalisation”. She dismisses these as not “the answer” but fails entirely to consider the enormous harm caused and crime created by existing policies. I will be making Freedom Of Information requests to determine just how much notice was taken of the consultation.
There is a complete failure to understand or consider the harms of prohibition. Britain now stands as one of the most backward and restrictive countries in the world when it comes to drug policy. We now rub shoulders with those countries that execute people for drug possession. There is no civilised country in the world with a more repressive drugs policy than Britain.
Emphasis is given to the introduction of elected Police and Crime Commissioners. I support this move. Hopefully, these elected officials, being closer to reality and not ensconsed in Whitehall’s ivory towers, will mitigate some of the damage that this strategy could cause. They will have the impossible job of trying to implement these ideas and will surely give Ms May and her protege James “Broken Britain” Brokenshire some lessons in reality and common sense.
The statistics and figures quoted in the strategy are manifest nonsense. Apparently the economic and social costs of Class A drug use are £15.4 billion per annum while the equivalent figure for alcohol is £18 – 25 billion. Supposedly the total illicit drug market in Britain is worth just £4 – 6 billion per annum while the market for alcohol is £30 billion. There are just 320,000 heroin and/or crack cocaine users but tens of million that use alcohol. These figures just don’t add up. Maybe that’s part of the reason this strategy is so badly conceived and directed.
It’s only part of the reason though. The main problem is that the government’s approach is based on prejudice and an arrogant, moralistic, proselytising stance. See David Nutt’s article here on what the government would do if a completely safe alternative to ecstasy was developed. Prohibition is immoral and evil in itself. When will our politicians wake up to what most of the rest of Europe and the USA already knows?
Cannabis, the most widely used illegal drug by a factor of at least 10 barely gets a mention except in passing. This, in itself, exposes the inane content of this strategy. The government apparently intends to deal with cannabis in exactly the same way as it deals with heroin and crack. The medicinal use of cannabis, now a burgeoning industry and source of hope to people all over Europe and America isn’t even mentioned. The crass stupidity of this strategy is almost beyond belief.
So the battle lines are drawn. Every other civilised country in the world is coming to terms with the fact that the war on drugs is unwinnable, even lost. Theresa May, like some mad first world war general, is blowing her whistle and urging on millions more to go over the top into certain death, or at least misery and degradation. Her slightly fey, sweet boy, Colonel Jimmy is hiding behind her, determined to gain credit for something but definitely not doing anything worthwhile, “Crikey! Not me. I’m staying safe.”
This could be a deeply depressing day but at least now we know where we stand. David Cameron and Nick Clegg have completely turned around on the progressive and liberal ideas they have advocated in the past. Nothing is a better indicator of the integrity and intelligence of a government than its drug policy. Britain is shamed by this effort which will inevitably cause more harm, cost more money and ruin more lives.
Written by Peter Reynolds
December 8, 2010 at 3:03 pm
Tagged with alcohol, America, authoritarian, Britain, broken Britain, cannabis, civil liberty, cocaine, crack, David Cameron, David Nutt, decriminalisation, Dr Mengele, draconian, drugs, Edwin Stratton, Europe, Freedom Of Information, government, harm, heroin, hypocrisy, ivory tower, James Brokenshire, Just Say No, methadone, Nancy Reagan, Nick Clegg, police commissioner, politician, prejudice, prohibition, social worker, The Guardian, Theresa May, USA, war on drugs, Whitehall
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