Sunday, October 21, 2007

Brunstrom Revisited

Been a busy weekend so far. So much work caring for little Ffion. Yesterday, I only managed to get 40 mls down her cute little throat - but today it was the full 100mls. And yesterday, we took her for her first walk down to the village. Where was everybody? I was desperately hoping that somebody would come rushing up to enquire after the contents of the pram - and I could nonchalantly say "Oh, this is only Ffion, my little grandchild." Did I say "pram"? I'm told its a 'Jane' transport system (pronounced 'hannay'). It has but three wheels and is so manoeuverable that I expect supermarkets to be redesigning their trolleys on the same basis. Anyway, there were no enquiries - and there were none today either. I'm going to start knocking on people's doors next weekend - asking something like "Have you seen our cat?" as an excuse.

Ffion time makes me rather more reflective at the keyboard. Peter Hitchens in today's MoS has caused me to think again about last week's comments on drugs law by Richard Brunstrom, Chief Constable of North Wales. I have posted before about my fundamental disagreement with his campaign to legalise all drugs. "Typical reactionary Tory response", I hear you say. Except that I don't think that's justified. As it happens, I'm instinctively libertarian and my general approach to life is to favour individuals doing what they want with their own property - which includes their own bodies. This sometimes puts me on a collision course with the 'authoritarian' wing of my party. The Conservative Party will always have dynamic tension between these two philosophies - as will individual Conservative's thought processes. Case of melding suspicion of the domineering state and respect for civil order.

Back to Brunstrom. My disagreement is founded on the sacrifice of his credibility as a law enforcer, rather than what he says. I accept that the current policies are failing, that drugs use is growing, associated crime is increasing as well, and more young people are destroying their lives than ever before. Any door knocking session, even in rural towns, will elicit reports of young local 'dealers' and properties where dealing is common practice. Its the biggest problem facing society today. We have to do something about it. My opinion remains that we should enforce the law.

I ask those who advocate legalisation of all drugs to imagine a Britain where this policy is introduced. Britain would inevitably become the drugs capital of Europe, if not the world - much as Thailand became the paedophilia capital before the Thai Government began intervening. Just as financial freedoms have allowed the City of London to become a leading financial centre of the world, a drugs free for all would make Britain's towns and cities into international drug dealing centres. Britain is only an island in a physical sense. If Brunstom wants to have any real influence (as opposed to headlines) he should resign, and go and work for the United Nations (which is the best we have as a worldwide debating forum) or the EU where he could do some good by putting the case from a standpoint that wouldn't do the real harm that he is currently inflicting on respect for the law in North Wales.


Ordovicius said...

Legalising drugs doesn't actually mean legalising the marketing of narcotics.

johnny foreigner said...

For once, I agree, wholeheartedly, with Ordo.

The proposed legalisation of drugs does not mean the setting up of pub-like establishments wherein one may just drop in for a couple of spliffs or a pipe of crack.

The whole idea is to provide addicts with a supply of their drug of addiction in order to obviate the need for them to be involved in criminal activity in order to feed their addiction.

Further, it would provide a means of monitoring their addiction, with the hope that their addiction may be reduced and hopefully cured.

There are currently many pharmacists who provide daily methodone syrup to those who benefit from its effects in weaning them off heroin. Unfortunately, this treatment is not always effective but at least does some good.

You claim that legalisation would turn Britain into the drugs capital of Europe, if not the World. On what do you base this presumption?

The Dutch for many years have been tolerant of 'coffee shops' selling cannabis of great variety and strength and their latest figures show that cannabis use has been reduced in spite of its availability.

In fact the drugs 'capital' of the world, particularly in terms of heroin, is clearly in Afghanistan, wherein, incidentally, they have grown more poppy this year than in the previous ten years, despite the war and the invasion by our troops. So much for 'hearts and minds'.

You claim that Mr. Brunstrom should stick to enforcement of the law as it stands. I would respectfully suggest that Mr. Brunstrom knows more about the drug problems than you ever will, and consequently is more able to address the problem from a point of view of qualified experience.

Your suggestion that he resign, merely emphasises this point. Mr. Brunstrom is at least seeking to address the problem from a purely pragmatic view based on his professional qualification and experience.

Your solution, presumably, is to 'wave the big stick'.

This 'stick' has already been shown to be totally ineffective, and it is clear to me that some 'out of the box' thinking is required.

The Laws against drugs are of a somewhat recent nature and are treated in much the same way as the Prohibition Laws in the USA during the '20's. Those who wish to, will, those who do not wish to, won't.

As a Rugby fan, you are no doubt quite familiar with a far more pernicious drug i.e. Alcohol, which is responsible for more crime than other 'street' drugs ever will be. It is also responsible for a far greater drain on the Health Service than any other drug addiction.

As you will be aware, every Rugby Club in the Country would close down overnight if the alcohol were to be removed from the beer. In fact without this drug of choice there would be no Rugby.

Maybe your efforts to address the drugs issue would be more beneficial if you looked more towards the reasons why drugs, including alcohol are used by so many.

I recall, many years ago, driving through a particularly run-down area of South Wales and painted on a large outcrop of rock were the words: "No hope, smoke dope". It put everything into context for me.

The use of recreational chemicals has been around for millennia and whilst you and your Rugby pals may choose alcohol, many others do not. They exercise their choice.

The enforcement of the current Laws has, to date, clearly been a complete and utter failure, and it is obvious that Mr. Brunstrom appreciates this and has spoken accordingly.

Your pal.


Aberavon & Neath Liberal Democrats said...

Your last paragraph points up the difficulty. The UK is signatory to international agreements criminalising non-prescription drugs. Any rationalisation would have to start with joint (pun not meant) international discussions.

However, it is not all that long ago that the drugs which cause us such concern were legal. Heroin was available over the counter in such things as cough remedies in the early twentieth century. (Bayer thought it would be more successful than a aspirin, which the company patented about the same time.) Cocaine was recommended by Freud for a number of psychological and medical conditions.

And what about khat (also spelt "qat", very useful for Scrabble ;-))? Mildly narcotic, damaging if over-used, but completely legal. It slips under the radar because it is confined to a particular ethnic group in the UK.

- Frank Little