Bob Ainsworth on drugs

Another ex-minister craves the limelight

Start 'em young eh? Start 'em young eh?
Bob Ainsworth on drugs, if you see what I mean. He has, as you might expect, great faith in the state. His remedy, giving the control to "doctors and pharmacists", won't make much difference, unless that is, you give the drugs away free. This would mean another 'state benefit' to be paid for by taxpayers. And how popular would that be in the age of the cutbacks? You would have thought that after all these years of 'big state' and its attendant failure that Ainsworth would have known better than to offer this, especially in the age of David Cameron and his Big Society. But then it's hard to kick a habit.

Bob Ainsworth, a Home Office minister under Tony Blair, said successive governments' approaches had failed, leaving criminal gangs in control. He said he realised when he was Home Office minister in charge of drugs policy, that the so-called war on drugs could not be won.

It's the last sentence that makes one think, we are to wonder why it took so long for Ainsworth to see he was wasting his time and public money. The very term 'war on drugs' harks back to the over emotional and messianic days of Tony Blair at his most dangerous. But then whole chunks of the government and its agents just love this approach. For it's not only Ainsworth, we see that former chief constable of Cambridgeshire, Tom Lloyd, is urging a change in attitude, saying -

We've got so used to 40 years of prohibition which, in my experience of over 30 years of policing, has led to massive cost, a failure to achieve the primary aims, which is the reduction of drug use, and a range of unintended harmful consequences,

So 30 years of doing it wrong, getting paid for this 'work' and now is the time to comment? The whole of government, form the top down is addicted to this way of working and yes, the consequences can indeed be harmful. But for sheer stupidity how about this remark by Ainsworth?

Leaving the drugs market in the hands of criminals causes huge and unnecessary harms to individuals, communities and entire countries, with the poor the hardest hit.

It did not take long to get the poor into the equation did it? As if this carries the weight of the argument. What Ainsworth has failed to spot is that the high cost of drugs is a deterrent to their use. It's true that some people, the very determined, will fund a habit from the proceeds of crime, but many are simply put off trying. It's also true that some of these people will usually turn to another drug, principally alcohol, around which to live their life.

It's at this point we should remind ourselves that is was Nulabour, the same party to which Ainsworth belongs and when in government he was a minister, that gave the UK the age of cheap alcohol. The legalisation of drugs is all very well as a concept but involving the state in the distribution could just give the same sort of people who sat back and watched the present mess develop another opportunity to do just that all over again. The sort of policy proposed by Ainsworth has worked in some countries but there is not the tradition of rational thinking in the UK as seems to be the case in Holland for example.

Also Ainsworth has not mentioned prisons, in the typical UK prison all manner of drugs are available. So here is a case of the state being in full control, or one would have thought so, and prisoners lives are further damaged, despite, or perhaps because of, the state being in control. Finally in the link above there is a quote from Prof David Nutt, a man given a hard time for his views when Nulabour was in government by none other than Ainsworth!