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Home > Politics

It's the war on drugs again

26 November 2004

You know when a government is having problems, because it wheels out new initiatives on Drugs. Drugs are a favourite with politicians for the simple reason that noone is really in favour of Drugs. When was the last time you heard someone say 'We need cheaper, more addictive, more harmful narcotics in our inner cities'?

It just doesn't happen. Drugs are like paedophiles - there's only really one stance, and that's 'against'. Drugs don't need to be explained or analysed. They're just evil and they're out there waiting to get you. (What's that? You've never been affected by drugs or drug dealers? You're not very bothered about the whole issue? Oh for Christ's sake, get with the programme. This is DRUG CRIME HELL UK PLC! Can't you see the emaciated whores jacking up in the street and the teenage crime lords giving crack cocaine to babies?)

And sure enough this week Tony Blair launched a new War on Drugs, as though it was some radical new idea. We think we're right in saying that the UK government hasn't been particularly in favour of drugs over the last 30 or 40 years, what with this business of them being 'illegal' and the people who take them being arrested and put in prison.

And here's the problem with any 'new' initiative on Drugs: surely most of the options have been considered before? This certainly seemed to be the case with Blair's proposals, which were:

Better opportunities for rehab for drug-addicted offenders, a proposal that's as controversial as saying the council should make us pay a modest charge to take away our household refuse; Better cooperation between the various agencies dealing with drugs: addiction services, the police, the courts, etc. Clearer laws on intent to supply: dealers will no longer be able to claim that substantial amounts of drugs are for personal use. It's pretty hard to disagree with any of this. Except for the niggling little criticism: SHOULDN'T THEY HAVE BEEN DOING ALL THIS ALREADY? Does the government really deserve credit for suggesting that drug agencies should work together, or loopholes in the law should be closed? It's like you or I going in to work on Monday and demanding a pay rise because we haven't set fire to our desk in the past year.

Possibly the most pathetic aspect of the War on Drugs is the way it's not a real policy. It's a bit of housekeeping that should be a normal part of day-to-day policy on drugs, not a radical new initiative to solve a frightening new problem. The War on Drugs was announced with much fanfare, but it was obvious to even the dullest observer that the whole project is just a desperate attempt by Blair to try and generate interest in the domestic agenda, and start to distract attention away from the war in Iraq.

In the real world (ie. the one outside Tony Blair's head) this obviously isn't going to happen. No amount of uncontroversial domestic policies are going to stop Iraq being the fuck-up it so obviously is. But we've got a feeling that won't stop New Labour launching all manner of trivial initiatives. So keep your eyes peeled for the War on Toast. It's about time sweeping new measures were put into place to ensure that toast no longer falls butter-side-down.

Are you in favour of toast falling butter side down? Of course not. So stop obsessing about Iraq and get with the toast programme. If this isn't an issue that affects us all, then we don't know what is...

Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

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