Bob Ainsworth, the former Defence Secretary is coming under fire from the 3 main parties press machines this morning for his comments about the legalisation of drugs. You can read the story here.
Bob Ainsworth makes some very good points, most notably about the reaction he received. He knew he couldn't say anything like this while a minister and would have been sacked from the shadow cabinet were he a member. Therein lies the problem with our policy on drugs. It is not at all formed by scientific fact or even the mountains of research into the effects of drug abuse on society. It is formed by pubic opinion. Politicians of office are scared of being perceived to be soft on drugs and so, despite being often confronted with overwhelming evidence that the policy must be reviewed, take a firm line and the debate never even happens.
I'm not convinced about whether drugs should be entirely legalised and regulated, mainly because I don't know enough about it to comment properly but I am continually disappointed that it is not something that can be discussed in the public domain by our politicians. I lay the blame for that squarely with the press and the public. Too many of our mainstream press have become little more than opinion papers often mounting their own single issue campaigns and the public have gone along with this shift. The papers move this way because they know it sells.
If we are to ever get politicians talking about the issues that are important, they need to know that the public will respect them for telling the truth. Currently, that crime usually leads to a resignation.