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PERSONAL, UNDILUTED VIEWS FROM TOM WINNIFRITH

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Another deluded Tory on Prohibition but Czechs are utterly clueless

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- Tom Winnifrith

What is it with Tories and flogging dead horses? A policy patently does not work and so… lets just do more of the same. I refer of course to drugs. The Tories are the party of “Law & Order” and so their approach to drugs is always to give more money to the Police to “smash drug rings” even if this never actually works and actually cuases more crime. In their efforts to be seen as “tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime” they show themselves to be economically illiterate.

Now that Louise Mensch has sadly disappeared I was waiting for the next Tory to opine on this matter and skimming the London Evening Standard (I found a copy on a train and was bored) I find a letter from London Assembly member Steve O’Connel (Con) in which he opines:

“Drug crime fuels 50% of acquisitive crime and the death of 14 year old Lillian Groves caused by a driver high on drugs highlights the misery it can cause. I welcome the Met’s decision to launch mass raids targeting drug dealers and hope they stock to their ambitious pledge to “keep on doing it until we have eroded the problem.” We need drug breathalyser kits in the Met as standard and more prevention work. We should introduce a hard hitting campaign that changes attitudes – similar to the drink driving one – by highlighting the links between drugs and horrific crimes. Most people have no idea that when they buy cannabis they could be supporting child trafficking. If they did they would think twice before using drugs and boasting about it.”

Hell’s teeth. Where do you start with such a pompous little toad? Well line by line then, off we go:

1. Yes. Addicts break into lots of cars and homes to steal laptops and car radios etc to sell to buy drugs. There will always be addicts. If you have prohibition the cost of drugs goes up and more crimes are committed. Sell drugs like cigarettes with a nice tax take for the Government and the price would plummet. Hence there would be fewer crimes.

If the Met campaign works ( and it will not, as these campaigns never work) the supply of heroin, etc will be cut and since demand will be unaltered the price will go up. More cars and houses will thus be broken into to pay for that.

2. Some folks drive while on drugs. More drive while drunk. If you want to stop 14 year olds being killed by drivers off their head you would have more joy banning booze. But… er that would not work. The reality is that there are relatively few kids killed by drugged up drivers. Most addicts are too pathetic/poor to drive. Most non addicted users are too sensible. Steve, using one rare case does not justify a policy that is not working.

3. Cannabis and child trafficking? So if I buy a bit of weed and I am supporting large scale paedo rings? Er no. According to Ecpat ( the body that started this line) there is “There is increasing evidence that children from South East Asia, particularly Vietnam, are being trafficked to the UK and forced to work cultivating cannabis. ECPAT UK is concerned that these trafficked children are not recognised as victims of crime but are treated as criminals and are often prosecuted for drug or immigration offences. “

Well let’s drill down a bit. In that same report. According to Ecpat the Old Bill discovered 6,866 commercial cannabis factories in the UK in the year ended April 1st 2010. In the same year 58 children aged 13-17 were identified as being “trafficked into the UK” of whom 37 were found to be working in cannabis factories.

And so in fact if I buy some weed which happens to be UK grown ( and most is still imported) there is a 0.53% chance that my joint might have been grown using imported child labour ( are they still kids at 16 or 17?). Kids are also imported into the UK to do other things.

I gather some have been found working on farms producing potatoes and carrots. As you tucked into your Sunday lunch today did you realise that you could be supporting child trafficking? You won’t bloody well be boasting about how you had roast potatoes any more will you? Shame on you. Assemblyman O’Connel thinks you have to appreciate the link between potato production and child trafficking and accept your part in this appalling trade.

And so non sequitur follow non sequitur. O’Connell wants to be on the side of Law & Order as the Met launches high profile raids to “erode the problem.” Please define erode? Buts one more dealer or bust them all? But he then uses dodgy stat after dodgy stat to justify a policy which actually adds to crime.

But at least O’Connel and his authoritarian colleagues in the Tory party who think they have every right to tell you and me which harmful substances we can put into our body ( alcohol, nicotine, deep fried Mars Bars) and which we cannot ( a bit of pot) are not as crazed as the folk who run the Czech Republic.

In this country there have recently been 19 deaths from folks poisoned by drinking illegal moonshine or vodka. This is naturally very sad. The response of the authorities has been to ban the sale of ALL spirits from the shops. And so now , if I want a shot of something strong at night the only place that I can get it is from an illegal vendor/criminal organisation. This has three effects:

1. Organised crime operating in the black economy replaces a legal trade operating in the white economy. So the effect on Government revenue and the real economy is negative.

2. Since supply is restricted prices go up.

3. And this is the corker. Folks now buy unregulated alcohol (including no doubt gallons of home made stuff) rather than regulated booze. So do you think poisoning rates will go up or down?

Prohibition does not work. It has never worked. It is simple economics. Supply and demand, market forces. I do not know which loons run the Czech Republic but you would hope that a leading Tory would grasp that point.

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