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Louise Mensch MP on Drugs: Dumb & (now) Dumber

Tom Winnifrith
Monday 9 July 2012

I have been wanting to write about Louise Mensch MP ever since I pointed out what a daft bint she was (here) a couple of weeks ago. I am delighted that she has presented me with an opportunity so soon. My desire to have another crack is partly driven by just how silly a person this MP is and partly because I was accused of misogyny in having a pop at her and Chloe Smith MP last time around.

Misogyny first. These women both said stupid things. They are MPs. Should they be let off the hook because they are women? Regularly on this blog I stick the boot into MPs with no/minimal real life experience and who also spout piffle and/or waste taxpayers cash on themselves and others. The most attacked politician here is, in fact, the truly pathetic, principle light, MP, Call Me Dave. This blog is only four weeks old. Give me time, I cannot see that there is any shortage of targets across all parties and of both genders.

There is however one issue about the newer Tory female MPs. Call Me Dave was so desperate to show that his party had changed and was cuddly rather than nasty that he made great play on selecting women for winnable seats. As with any policy of affirmative action the effect is likely to be that in order to make up quotas you get some fairly hopeless candidates getting through. In terms of Mensch, the fact that in a profession, once described as show business for ugly people, she might be viewed as being reasonably fit, has done her no harm. She has benefitted from being a vaguely attractive woman. That should not stop her being lambasted when she spouts piffle. Au contraire.

Edmund Burke famously said that “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” In modern times, with an ever more powerful state, one might rephrase “All it needs for your representatives to screw up your country’s finances, steal the taxpayers cash, leave vast debts for the next generation, destroy your civil liberties in a calculated manner, to tell outright lies and to pass ever greater quantities of ill thought out legislation, is for all of us to say nothing.” If Mensch et al do not like being attacked they should quit and do something else. Though they often forget it MPs are our servants not our masters and as such we have every right to hold them to account.

Mensch’s latest “episode” came on Question Time last week when she argued that drugs should not be legalised because she had, in her youth, taken Class A drugs and it had messed with her brain. If that is an excuse for the rubbish she spouts it does not wash – my guess is that her brain was not totally wired up even before she met Charlie.

When Mensch took those drugs she did so even though they were illegal. Every week large numbers of our fellow citizens take drugs ranging from pot through to really horrible substances. For the avoidance of doubt I smoked pot before I went to Oxford and also at University. But after one really awful night 23 years ago, I vowed never to take drugs again. I have also seen what they do to others. I would urge ( and do urge) those I love not to take any drugs at all as they are bad for your mind and your body and make you do daft things. It is also an expensive habit. For what it is worth the same could also be said about alcohol.

Mensch the moralist is arguing for a status quo which does not work. Drug use in our society is widespread. But being a criminal activity there are consequences. For starters what is a low cost commodity is priced at sky high rates. That means that addicts must get in an awful lot of cash to feed their cravings. It also means that criminal gangs control this trade making a lot of money for some rather unpleasant fellows. Meanwhile the taxpayer spends a fortune on:

a) trying and failing miserably to stop the import and distribution of drugs
b) cleaning up the tomato ketchup as these criminal gangs fight each other for business
c) dealing with millions of petty crimes ( car and house break ins) caused solely by the need of addicts to fund an expensive habit
d) Dealing with addicts, facing problems such as HIV and hepatitis caused by the way we ensure that drugs are distributed. Treating these diseases is also a huge burden for the taxpayer.

And so what Mensch argues for is a system which does not stop drug use at all and costs the taxpayer a fortune while failing those most in need ( addicts) by causing them additional healthcare issues and pushing them to commit large numbers of crimes. Al Capone would have been proud of her for so abjectly failing to learn the lessons from Prohibition in his era.

Can you imagine that pot is imported legally by the state and processed by the state (okay I know it would not be very efficient) and then sold like tobacco? The cost of production etc is more or less zippo so the state would generate a vast tax revenue. Meanwhile the same process would apply for coke, acid and heroin only they would be sold in chemists and with each wrap of heroin would be handed out a syringe with a needle designed so that it can be used only once. Again, tax the Class A products like tobacco and the State generates more revenues.

The Police/Customs folks could close down their drugs units. Because the price of drugs would have collapsed (from illegal ultra high margin days), the criminal gangs would have to engage in other business or just retire with their ill gotten millions. That element of crime would fall. An 80% fall in the price of heroin would mean that addicts would have to break into 80% fewer cars to feed their habits and so UK crime levels would fall dramatically. We could either fire a few Policeman or have them engaged in something more useful like going on more cultural diversity awareness training courses. And because the one use only needles would be handed out with the heroin, the rate of transmission of diseases such as HIV would fall.

Mensch would argue – without any factual evidence at all – that making drugs more available would increase drugs usage. Well maybe it would. I am not so sure. It strikes me that whether drugs are legal or illegal, sensible folk will just say no, slightly foolish people like me will do a bit of pot, very stupid people like Mensch will do enough Charlie to screw her up and some folk will become addicts.

The Mensch thesis is in short: “drugs are bad for you and thus the State must ban them to restrict supply.” Ignoring the fact that this does not work, the same thesis should – to be consistent – be applied to alcohol and arguably to deep fried mars bars, ice cream and chocolate. What I do with my body should be my business alone not that of a State making moral judgements about which products it thinks I should be allowed to imbibe. But that the State chooses to enforce a system which does not work, which wastes my taxes on a huge scale and which causes additional health consequences for those who are most vulnerable is simply unjustifiable and is my very legitimate concern.

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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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