This Government seems determined to go to its probable doom still operating with the same kind of politics that have gotten us into such a mess in the first place. Right thing to do, but unpopular? Never going to happen.
And so it was with mephedrone, the latest scare drug of the moment. All the relevant legislation says, very reasonably, that the Government needs to conduct a sober, scientific and comprehensive study of any substance that it wishes to control. After all, by controlling mephedrone, the Government will at a stroke be seriously criminalising many thousands of young people.
However, this is New Labour - so imagine my complete lack of surprise at the rush to push through a ban on mephedrone before the General Election. It seems that, far from heeding scientific advice and carefully considering policy, it just takes a few scare stories in the tabloids to get this Government to jump. As far as I can tell, there has been next to no proof either way about mephedrone as yet - but hey, lets not let that stop us from creating new laws. Who needs proof when you have outrage?
I've always been incredibly proud of Green Party drugs policy, which points out that prohibition generally doesn't work. It's simply not the best way to keep people safe, and just pushes drugs underground into the control of criminal gangs who ensure that the substances used become less pure and more dangerous. In the case of mephedrone, there are scores of drugs, still legal, which give almost the same high - so all this will achieve is to push people towards other alternatives. Alternatives the effects of which, surprise surprise, we will have no idea about. And so the merry-go-round of outrage will begin again.
This is also the view of Professor David Nutt, the man whom the Government sacked for having the temerity to tell the truth on these issues only a few months ago. Like him, I certainly don't believe that mephedrone is harmless. But I do believe that making it a controlled substance is almost certainly going to make things worse, rather than better.
Political expediency 1 - 0 Rational science based politics.