Friday, July 06, 2012

Conservative MP admits to having used drugs, so shouldn't she be in prison?

On  BBC Question Time last night, Conservative MP Louise Mensch, admitted she had used Class A drugs (she didn't specify what they were, and "A" is the "most dangerous" category including cocaine, MDMA, etc) and that they had had a "lasting effect" on her brain.   I'm not one to deny that, and I'm certainly not condemning her for it.

Yet I will criticise her hypocrisy.

See she thinks drugs should remain illegal and criminal, and supports the "war on drugs".

In which case should she now not hand herself into the Police and face charges, trial, conviction and sentencing?  Should she not also forward names of all of her family and friends who have done the same?

After all - if it's so bad, and criminalising drug users is the "right thing to do" by implication, why shouldn't upper class English catholic Tory MPs and their associates face the same legal sanction as young poor Afro-Caribbean or white working class boys?

You see it is very easy for those living in relatively cozy middle and upper class communities to support a "war on drugs", until you confront them with "how many people do you know have taken drugs" and then "shouldn't they be in prison too"?

Because of course it isn't those people that are allowed to "make a mistake".  Louise Mensch is smart, successful, married to a wealthy husband, herself a successful writer. She "knows better".  She wants to protect the ignorant, stupid, vulnerable poor folk who aren't capable of making such decisions.

She wants the war on drugs fought in Tottenham, Newham, Mossside, Brixton, Toxteth etc, not Kensington, Highgate, Hampstead and Tunbridge Wells.

So why don't the Conservative, Labour and "Liberal" Democrat MPs who believe in this simply say that the "war on drugs" is about poor people having drugs.  Rich people, the middle classes and the like often "make mistakes" when young but they shouldn't be condemned for it, because it only hurts themselves.   Louise Mensch has been allowed to get away with ingesting what she chose without prosecution, why does she deny that right to others, or why doesn't she insist the law she supports gets applied equally?

Just to be clear.  I wouldn't throw her in prison.  I think it would be absurd and unjust for her to be in prison for possession and ingestion of Class A drugs.  However, unlike her, I also think that everyone else in prison for such offences should also be set free and have their convictions expunged.  Had she been convicted, she could not have pursued the career choice she now has.  Why subject others to the same because the Police happen to more readily patrol their neighbourhoods and communities?


ZenTiger said...

As a conservative, I agree. If you are going to start a war, you need to prepare for the consequences of your actions.

So it is important to be consistent with the penalties you wish to exact for the crime.

One would hope that being a user (or ex-user), she would have some humility and compassion around this area, which doesn't seem to be there.

Which is why, as a Conservative, I'll often argue strongly for a moral position, but not necessarily wish that position to be enforced by law. some changes have to be adopted at the personal level, and not solely by using the blunt instrument of the law. I'm more liberal in that respect.

libertyscott said...

Let's be clear, I'm no fan of people taking drugs. I don't subscribe to the "cannabis is harmless" school of thought or pretend that there aren't great health risks from their consumption.

However, I am astonished that anyone who thinks they are harmful believes it is beneficial for people who ingest them to be criminalised.

The war on drugs is an empirical failure, but it is a moral one as well. Notably Uruguay is considering nationalising the trade in cannabis, hmm let's see how that goes.

Richard McGrath said...

The class A drug Ms Mench had probably wasn't heroin, and may have been LSD or mushrooms. Typical Tory hypocrisy; given the track record of the Cameron administration we should see a U-turn by Ms Mench any time soon...

Interesting proposed approach in Uruguay. While it takes the cannabis trade into government hands, at least it decriminalises it, which has got to be a good thing.