Drugs and British politicians: a bonus post

As I write this, half the Conservative Party is in the running to be the next party leader and, in a kind of two-for-one offer that’s built into British politics, since the Conservatives are the ruling party, the next prime minister. For at least a brief time, since the Conservatives have a fragile hold on power. They don’t have a majority, just more MPs than anyone else.

But that’s not why I’m tossing a bonus post onto the blog on a Monday morning. It’s because one of the candidates, Michael Gove, admitted this weekend  that he took cocaine when he was what the papers are describing as a young journalist.

Gove is the secretary of state for environment, food, and rural affairs, and he was, before this, generally considered to be polling just behind Boris Johnson, the party members’ goofball favorite. In the British system, the ruling party gets to pick its own leader, and if it’s in power the prime minister, according to its own rules, so the only people whose opinions count in this poll are the Conservative Party’s members.

The Conservatives aren’t a party that attract a mass membership, even when they can attract a big vote, so this is a small slice of the country picking the next prime minister.

If you’ve seen photos of the competitors, Gove is the one who looks like someone drew a face on a balloon, then added a tie. I keep wanting to say a bow tie, but in the photos I’ve found he’s not actually wearing a bow tie. He just happens to look like the kind of balloon who would.

But never mind his looks. I’m not above making fun of them–it’s unfair and I won’t defend it too much, even if I’ll do it anyway. But they’re not why I’m writing about him. It’s because of the cocaine. He made his announcement just ahead of the publication of a book that would have broken the story anyway. If he was trying to take control of the story, it hasn’t worked.

Back in 1999, he wrote an article for the Times criticizing what he called “London’s liberal consensus” on drug use–a consensus that he argued wanted to loosen drug laws.

In a TV interview since the story broke, he said that didn’t make him a hypocrite.

“The point that I made in the article is that if any of us lapse sometimes from standards that we uphold, that is human.

“The thing to do is not necessarily then to say that the standards should be lowered. It should be to reflect on the lapse and to seek to do better in the future.”

By the evening after the interview, the Times was reporting claims that just hours after he wrote the article Gove hosted a party at which cocaine was taken. Please note the vagueness of that “was taken.” I’m not sure who took it, so we’ll just let the stuff blow around a bit and not ask who inhaled and who didn’t.

Anyway, it’s all okay as long as the standards aren’t lowered.

Interviewers have been asking Gove if, as prime minister, he’d be allowed into the U.S., since the visa application asks about drug use. It’s all been just a tad embarrassing.

All this led to other leadership contestants confessing their drug use and non-use. I’ll skip the non-use and stick with the interesting stuff.

In 2005, Boris Johnson said he thought he was once given cocaine but he sneezed so none of it got up his nose. Then in 2007, he said he tried cocaine and cannabis at university (translation for Americans: that means college) but that it had no effect on him. Which presumably makes him still a virgin. It all depends on what your definition of is is. (Possibly unnecessary translation for non-Americans: That’s a Bill Clinton reference when he was trying to argue that sex with a White House intern wasn’t actually sex because of where the relevant body parts weren’t.) 

Jeremy Hunt said he thought he had a cannabis lassi when he was backpacking in India. After which he thought that everything was very beautiful and that the lassi was the most delicious thing he’d ever poured down his throat. And after that he thought it didn’t affect him even a tiny bit.

Dominic Raab used cannabis as a student but “not very often” and “it was a mistake.” Besides which, “It was a long time ago.” So that doesn’t count either.

Rory Stewart smoked opium at a wedding in Afghanistan. He added that the family that invited him was very poor, so there may have been very little opium in the pipe. Which means they were smoking air. It’s hard to keep air lit, but it puts itself in the pipe without human help, it’s free, and it’s legal everywhere.

Someone who isn’t Matt Hancock said Matt Hancock “tried cannabis a few times as a student.” We’re still waiting to hear why that wasn’t really drug use.

Esther McVey said she had “ never taken any class A drugs, but have I tried some pot? Yes I have. When I was much younger.” That has the virtue of not disowning the experience, but I don’t hear her–or any of the other candidates–pushing for changes to the drug laws or calling for anyone who’s been convicted of the same offense they weren’t charged with to be pardoned.

Possession of marijuana carries a sentence of up to five years and an unlimited fine, or both. Possession of Class A drugs, including cocaine, carries a sentence of up to seven years and an unlimited fine, or both.

Please note, those five to seven years are in prison, not in the House of Commons.

Have you noticed that if you have money and connections, you try drugs and that if you don’t, you use them?

Stay tuned. The race to be leader of the Conservative Party can only get better.

53 thoughts on “Drugs and British politicians: a bonus post

  1. It’s rather scary that our next Prime Minister will be chosen by a group of people so out of touch with the country as a whole, who will all be slightly disappointed that Attila the Hun isn’t a candidate. That two for one offer is known in marketing terms as a BOGOF. Exactly what I wish the Conservative Party would do.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Pingback: Drugs and British politicians: a bonus post — Notes from the U.K. – a lingering rose

  3. Who knew the Tory party were a bunch of junkies? Can’t wait for the next installment, this is better than ‘Yes,Minister’ was. Except Yes Minister was funny, and this lot are just puerile. If they sink much lowere they’ll need snorkles.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. They are all hypocritical idiots who have no idea what it is like for normal working people.

    The problem is, whoever gets in we are stuck with them, till the next election as none of them are going to call an early GE. They learnt from May.

    However, I have hope that maybe their ego might get the better of them and then they will anyway. Although that leaves us with Labour, which is just as scary

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m not convinced that a no-deal Brexiteer won’t trigger a vote of no confidence. They will, surely, lose the UDP’s support. Although I’d be crazy to predict anything with any certaintly anymore. I should remember that. I actually support Labour. I think they’d undo some of the damage of austerity and shove the NHS back from the brink.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I think everyone is fed up of the whole thing, if there are been some sort of a plan at the start that would of been better.

        I have supported Labour (I have supported most of the major parties at one time or the other) but I can’t vote for them this time around due to the inability to decide what they wanted from Brexit, and as a group they are managing to alinate a lot of different groups

        Liked by 1 person

        • I shouldn’t get off into a serious discussion about politics here, but I will anyway. Labour’s position on Brexit isn’t as murky as it’s said to be. I’m piecing it together from memory, so I may not have it quite right, but memory says they promised to respect the referendum but wanted to stay in some sort of customs union to keep trade relations open and maintain health etc etc.. standards. Failing an agreement that does that, they would first call for a general election and if that doesn’t happen support a second referendum. They’ve been slow to support that referendum, and I do think it’s time because all the conditions they set up have been failed, but I do see where they’re coming from. As for alienating groups, they are indeed, but again I think someone’s doing a hatchet job on them. I’m Jewish, and I don’t discount charges of antisemitism any more than I’d say racism doesn’t matter, but a lot of the accusations of antisemitism that I’ve read simply don’t amount to antisemitism. Some of them, I’m sure, do. And you’d find similar or worse in other parties, about Jews or Muslims or other groups, but no one’s interested in that, somehow.

          Okay, end of me being serious. Apologies.

          Liked by 2 people

  5. Enjoyed the bonus post.

    I googled Gove, clicked images and scrolled down. Found a bow tie picture. Formal dress, also wearing a kilt. Found some odd looks and expressions. And some bad jogging pictures.

    I would describe him as having a square face. Or rectangle.

    Not sure what a conservative government would mean for Britain.

    As for the drugs, pretty sure W. Bush and Obama used cocaine when young. Bush would only say he had not used in twenty five years, I think he said twenty five. Obama would not answer the question.

    Clinton used marijuana consumed in brownies.

    Two presidents ib recent memory never drank alcohol. Carter and Trump. Does not dpesk well for non drinkers.

    There is a statute of limitations for drug use. Yo me past drug use would not be an issue. Not using grass in college would count against you as I see it.

    Have a good rest of the week.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Brownies? So that’s why he didn’t inhale. I should’ve known. How could I not have thought of that?

      We have a Conservative government over here now. It’s meant years of politically imposed austerity–budget cutting that’s done for ideological reasons rather than because the country’s broke. It’s taken a country that when I moved here didn’t need food shelves and created a need for food shelves. It’s massively underfunded schools and health. Because local governments have very limited abilities to tax, they’re dependent on central government’s support, and it’s left them in tatters. I could go on and on, but in short, it’s been a disaster. And to add frosting to it, they claim to be giving massive budget increases to popular programs, like the National Health Service, but when you look at it they’re counting old money and there is no increase.

      Grrrrrrrrrrr.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. They are a waste of space. Although I wouldn’t condone anything but cannabis, they are guilty of far more heinous crimes. They are a bunch of mendacious, self-serving monsters who should be locked up for that alone. I dread the future. In other business, I’m sure I’ve seen Gove in a bowtie on the odd occasion! I think it’s because he speaks in a Hooray Henry type of voice that it’s easy to imagine him wearing one. :)

    Liked by 1 person

  7. At least they are saying they used, unlike Bill Clinton who said he was at a party where they were using marijuana, but he never inhaled. I imagine that during all of those hours at the party he must have changed into quite a few shades of blue.

    I never tried the stuff myself, but I know what the high is like. Unlike Bill, I worked at the chem lab on campus when I was in college (university). We delivered chemicals to the other labs in the building, using a common staircase. At the bottom of the staircase was an unlocked door to the outside, kids would hide at the bottom of the stairs and smoke marijuana. Smoke, as it tends to do, wafts up the stairwell to the other floors. Our time running deliveries was limited so that we wouldn’t get too high “inhaling” as we traversed the stairwell. No, I didn’t care for it. I’m one of those people who has to be in full control of my faculties at all times or it bugs the crap out of me.

    How do you tell a politician is lying? They’re still breathing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • …and their lips move.

      Have you ever noticed that none of the politicians who admit to having used drugs ever seem to have bought the stuff themselves? Makes you wonder who’s skipping through the world giving it away.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I don’t know what it’s like in England, but on this side of the pond I’ve always been amazed that politicians make laws that the rest of us are expected to follow, but which they, themselves, blatantly ignore, and they are rarely prosecuted.

        Congress, years ago, passed anti-sexual harassment laws, which it made sure did not apply to Congress. Since then take a stab at who is the single largest group guilty of sexual harassment. Of course, you cannot prosecute them because they are exempt from the law.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I seem to remember someone, in the midst of an argument about why, for the good of the country, we can’t have national health insurance that covers everyone, some moderate proposing that everyone in the country should have the same coverage that Congress does. It’s supposed to be top of the line. I’m sure that’ll shock you.

          P.S., they weren’t taken seriously. That’ll shock you as well.

          Liked by 1 person

  8. Drugs and politicians is always such a stupid argument. Anyone who ever set foot into a good private school knows these kids have the money in the first place. Then they grow up. Nex,t you will tell me they caught a politician lying! Tsk tsk

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I am an American, and I feel your pain with your Conservative party. It is the same pain the many Americans feel here with our current administration. (I’ve honestly been trying to figure out if Boris Johnson is as big a buffoon as Trump – but Trump sets a high bar in regard to idiocy.) Hypocrisy seems to be the trademark of many conservative politicians in both of our nations. (I have seen liberals do it too – the aforementioned Bill Clinton for one – but far less often.) Laws and ethics never apply to them because of said ridiculous rationalization.

    Also? Bill Clinton smoked pot in college, but he didn’t inhale. LOL!

    Anyway, I live une the state of Nevada where marijuana is completely legal. You know what has happened? Nothing. The state still functions. People work, go to school, etc. The police can turn their efforts to more significant problems.

    Liked by 1 person

    • In an earlier comment, someone mentioned brownies in connection with Bill Clinton not inhaling, and all I could say was, Why didn’t I think of that? I know how hard brownies are to inhale. So yes, he could tell the literal truth while not telling the truth at all.

      I think the affinity of the right wing for hypocrisy is because it tends to espouse rigid standards. As you move further left, the tendency is to loosen all that rigidity, so yes, if I inhale–well, I never said I wouldn’t. Not a problem. At least not a problem since I didn’t get caught back when it was illegal.

      Boris, I think, is a particularly British type of buffoon–the type who had an expensive education that taught him that if you say stupid things in Latin they sound impressive. I know people who swear he’s actually quite intelligent. I’ve seen no evidence yet.

      Like

  10. Pingback: Lions and bears and British politicians | Notes from the U.K.

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