tag: David Cameron

Jan 2014

The Right’s not what it seems either

Just as our notions of The Left have shifted dramatically in the past forty years, a story caught my eye today that illustrates how The Right (and I’m talking here about the mainstream right) has made a shift of its own. The story is ably summarised by the headline: Firefighters In Tears As 10 Stations Close In London.

Few stories so perfectly demonstrate the Thatcherite transformation of the British Conservative Party. A transformation that itself helped galvanise a terrible global trend. Not so long ago, the Tory Party stood for two things… money and tradition. And while “money” would often win out – it did lose a surprising number of battles and certainly didn’t get things all its own way.

Then Thatcher came in and ripped “tradition” out of the Tories. Now it’s all money.

I’m not saying the Old Tories were a better breed of economic oppressor (in many ways they weren’t) but they were a very different breed. Yet the British media has allowed them to retain the appearance of a party that stands for “tradition”. Just as the media still calls Labour “left wing”.

This matters of course, because it permits people to be hoodwinked into supporting politicians they otherwise wouldn’t. The Conservative Party, pre-Thatcher, would never have expedited the closure of London’s oldest Fire Station – a grand old institution that served the city through the Blitz and more – and then added insult to injury by allowing it to be replaced by something so crass as “a block of luxury flats”. There are people out there who still vote for Boris Johnson and his ilk because they represent “the Britain of old”, something to be cherished, steeped in a history of True Greatness. Whether you agree with that view of British history or not is irrelevant, the point is – the modern Tory Party don’t. And lots of people still vote for them because they hide that fact.

Boris Johnson
Talk of budgetary constraints would have been seen as vaguely treasonous to the Conservative Party of fifty years ago. The survival of that fire station (and others like it) would be considered a top priority to those who take genuine pride in the history and traditions of Britain. A group of people that demonstrably does not include Boris Johnson, David Cameron or George Osborne.

So yeah, British friends… vote for the tories if you’re already very rich. That’s fair enough, they’re on your side. But don’t vote for them because they’re the party of your grandad who fought in the war. They really aren’t any more.

(and neither are that UKIP bunch)

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Jul 2013

A new age of censorship

David Cameron gave a speech today in which he called on British Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to implement filters on the internet in order to block pornographic content. Certain types of pornography would be banned entirely (obviously those that are already illegal, but also “simulated rape” imagery) while other legal forms of pornography would require a person to explicitly “opt in” with their ISP in order to be able to view it.

Now, this is obviously a sensitive subject (particularly when we’re talking about something like “simulated rape”) and it’s not something I want to spend a huge amount of time on – the blogosphere is full of commentary on the subject and I probably don’t have a great deal to contribute to the debate. However, I do want to add my voice to the calls for extreme caution with regards to this issue.

I’m not going to deal with the moral issues surrounding pornography. They are ably covered, from all sides, by a myriad different writers. However, I would like to request that those who are calling for filters and bans, define their terms. Because nobody seems very willing to do so. A ban on “simulated rape imagery” would obviously cover some deeply depraved stuff. The kind of stuff that would turn the stomachs of most of us.

SRIBut such a ban would also ensure that a whole host of films and TV shows are banned from our screens. Jodie Foster’s powerful Oscar-winning performance in The Accused would clearly never be permitted in Cameron’s Britain. If you claim the film does not contain “simulated rape imagery” then you have not seen it. The same is true of Platoon, Pulp Fiction, A Clockwork Orange, The Outlaw Josey Wales and dozens of other excellent films (plus probably thousands of films that are less excellent but I’d argue are a long way from being worthy of a ban).

Hell, even Akira Kurosawa’s acknowledged masterpiece, Rashômon, while showing very little of the crime that forms the heart of the film, nonetheless contains what can only be described as “simulated rape imagery”. The entire film – as with The Accused – centres on the aftermath and consequences of a rape. Are we suggesting the subject is entirely off limits? Or that it can only be obliquely referred to as an off-screen event?

On the (very few) occasions that defenders of the proposed ban have tried to define exactly what it is they are banning, they fall back on the “intent” of the film or scene. If the simulated rape is intended to titillate or arouse a viewer, then it should be banned. Which means these people are willing to allow – nay demanding – the government be given the power to ban films based on their interpretation of the film-makers intent. If that’s not close to the definition of a slippery slope, then I don’t know what is.

I know, I know, there will be clear cases where a simulated rape scene is obvious pornography. But how do you write that into law in such a way as to ensure that the government cannot decide to use that same law to ban The Sopranos, Twin Peaks and Breaking Bad from our screens? And as someone has already pointed out on Twitter, David Cameron himself owns the TV series ‘24‘ on DVD. Yep, you guessed it, “simulated rape imagery”. Nobody is arguing that there aren’t deplorable things out there; things I don’t want to see and I suspect the vast majority of those reading this don’t want to see either. But I want to be able to draw that line for myself. I certainly don’t want David Cameron or Enda Kenny or any politician drawing it for me.

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Feb 2013

The UK Bedroom Tax

Here in Ireland the government is waging low-level war on the poor and vulnerable. Hiding behind the utterly false claim that their “hands are tied” by the conditions of the bailout, they inflict death by a thousand cuts on those least able to sustain those cuts. A few million off disability allowance here, a tax on child benefit there… a property tax here, a reduction in the rent allowance cap there… pretty soon the poor are even poorer and even those on middle incomes find themselves bled dry. Which in turn, of course, means the vast majority of people are spending less, with inevitable negative consequences for the local economy.

Meanwhile, Enda Kenny and Fine Gael along with the traitorous Labour sycophants who toe the right-wing neoliberal line (in return for a few years with their snouts in the trough) steadfastly refuse to impose any meaningful austerity on those who can actually afford to shoulder a greater share of the burden. Profitable corporations and high income individuals remain untouched by the vicious cuts imposed elsewhere. Ireland remains a wealthy country, but the wealth is all concentrated in the hands of a small minority who are not expected to contribute to the well-being of the rest. As much as I’d like to see genuine socialist policies enacted in Ireland, I don’t expect it to happen given how much the political spectrum has narrowed over the past few decades. I do expect a modicum of basic fairness though… but it seems even such a humble expectation is thwarted by craven politicians without an ounce of decency or honour among them.

And yet, despite this betrayal of the vulnerable by those entrusted with representing their interests, we Irish merely have to look to our nearest neighbour to see what happens when a low-level war on the poor turns into an outright assault. I genuinely don’t understand anyone who votes for the British Tory party. Seriously, I just don’t get it. Those who defend the Conservatives generally mutter something about “sound economic policies” or how “business friendly” they are. Or maybe they’ll use the phrase “the party of law and order” or mention “family values”. But all of this ignores the fact that choosing a Conservative government is choosing to be ruled (and the way they run the government definitely merits the word “ruled”) by a bunch of vicious bastards without a shred of compassion who appear to genuinely enjoy inflicting suffering upon those they consider “less deserving” than themselves (a category that includes damn near everyone in the country).

David Cameron’s party consists of a bunch of small-minded, nasty little shits. Every single one of them. And even if they did have “sound economic policies” (which incidentally… they don’t!) it wouldn’t compensate for them being small-minded, nasty little shits.
Small-minded nasty little shits
The latest wheeze being introduced by the Tories is the “bedroom tax”. Leastways, that’s how it’s now known. Essentially this slice of undisguised cruelty applies to anyone in designated social housing, or receiving rent allowance. If they have an unoccupied bedroom in their house, their social security is reduced by 14%. Two spare rooms results in a 25% reduction. These are people right on the very edge of poverty (hell, many of them are already over that edge). Cutting their social security benefits is likely to leave them either cold or hungry (probably both). It is quite deliberately inflicting extreme hardship on people whose lives are already pretty damn hard. Meanwhile the British government continues to spend more on their military than all but three other nations. They continue to allow large corporations evade tax and they reduce taxation on the wealthiest individuals… they even go so far as to heavily subsidise some of the most profitable companies in the country by offering them a large, free workforce (an utterly self-defeating strategy, incidentally, and one that’s about as far from “sound economic policies” as it’s possible to get).

Bedroom taxOf course, the bedroom tax will hit certain people disproportionately. People who require carers (i.e. those with disabilities or health issues) are likely to get the most vicious kicking. I guess the Tory Party (along with their obnoxious enablers, the Lib Dems) can at least claim to be an Equal Opportunity Bully. And while it’s completely understandable that organisations who represent carers and those with disabilities will campaign on behalf of their interests, it seems to me that this is a much wider issue of social justice. Of course it’ll be a good thing if the most vulnerable manage to win themselves an exemption, but it won’t be cause for celebration. It will merely be a further example of a right wing government successfully pitting one group of vulnerable people against another. Everyone in the UK should be angry about this tax being imposed on even one person; carer, disabled, ill, healthy, able-bodied, it doesn’t matter… this is a fundamentally evil policy and its imposition will make the UK a fundamentally less just place.

For a party that claims to be all about “small government”, it’s difficult to imagine anything more intrusive than a policy aimed at stipulating the number of rooms a person may have in their house based upon their economic circumstances. People who have perhaps lived for years in a house or flat with an extra room will now find themselves forced out of their homes (or go hungry… can’t say they don’t have a choice I suppose) by a government that insists it hates interfering in the lives of people. What they really mean, is they hate interfering in the lives of people who matter. In other words, the rich.

But if you’re poor; they’ll tell you what house you can live in, they’ll tell you what job you must do, they’ll take away your healthcare and force you into debt if you want an education. Small-minded, nasty little shits. And I’m sorry to say this… but if you vote for them, then so are you. There are no longer any excuses.

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Apr 2012

Lying politicians (and media complicity)

Yesterday over in the UK, David Cameron gave a speech which contained two blatant lies. Firstly he claimed of the company Rolls Royce that “Half the members of its Board started as apprentices.” In fact, to quote the excellent Channel 4 FactCheck blog

Only one out of the fourteen members of the Rolls-Royce board of directors did an apprenticeship with the company, and that was a sponsored degree rather than a vocational course for a school-leaver.

David Cameron (British Prime Minister)

A lying liar

Cameron also claimed (and prefaced the claim with the immortal words, “I am not making this up”) that the previous Labour government had introduced a GCSE-equivalent course “in Personal Effectiveness which actually involved learning how to fill out a benefit form”. In fairness to Cameron he’s right when he said that he wasn’t making that one up. As the FactCheck blog reveals, he was actually just parroting something that the Daily Mail had made up. Which is par for the course for British politicians of almost every stripe.

Now, what irks me most is not those specific lies. It’s the fact that we have come to accept lies and half-truths from our politicians as though they were the most natural thing in the world. There will be no massive scandal about Cameron’s false claim that the Rolls Royce boardroom is half-filled with erstwhile apprentices who worked their way up from the machine room. Indeed, with the exception of a tiny handful of people who read the Channel 4 FactCheck blog, most people will never know the claim is false.

And tomorrow, or next week, he’ll make a speech with yet more self-serving lies and once again they will be accepted as fact.

Because despite the excellent FactCheck blog, the reality is that the media as a whole does a god-awful job of holding our politicians to account. In a sane world, Cameron’s next speech or press conference would be followed by a dozen questions from the floor asking him why he lied in his previous speech. Why he was content to trot out the vile falsehoods of the Daily Mail as though they were fact. Why, in fact, he was comfortable treating the citizens of his country with such naked contempt.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that journalists should be able to identify the lies as they are told. Fact checking takes time. But if they were doing their jobs in an even half-competent manner, they’d hold him to account for the things he says on the next occasion they got to question him. But they don’t. Instead they are actively complicit in those lies… reporting them without ever investigating them.

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Jan 2012

Pots, kettles and colonialism

Two cheeks of the same arseDear God, but David Cameron is an idiot. Seriously… he’s a proper full-blown clown of a man. Even on the rare occasion that he’s actually right about something – and it really is very rare indeed – he seems determined to express his position in the worst possible terms so that I desperately want to disagree with him even if I don’t. He feels for all the more like a fake Tony Blair. As if someone had flown to Hong Kong and paid one of those back-street tailors to take a break from making knock-off Giorgio Armani suits and rustle up a Tony Blair instead. Truly they are two cheeks of the same arse.

Cameron’s most recent utterance of blithering idiocy is to describe Argentina’s designs on the Falklands as “like colonialism”. The rest of his statement, where he points out that “these people want to remain British and the Argentinians want them to do something else”, is absolutely correct. I’m not suggesting that sovereignty of the Falkland Islands should be handed over to Buenos Aires. What I am saying is that for a British Prime Minister – particularly an aristotory – to accuse another nation of colonialism is just shoddy public relations. He may be right, technically speaking, but he also looks profoundly ridiculous in that rightness.

His choice of words draws attention away from the perfectly sensible point that the people of the islands have, for generations, asserted their Britishness. And away from the fact that they didn’t supplant an existing population of Argentinian citizens, but were in fact the first people to settle the islands. Instead he uses a word which reminds us all just how Britain got there in the first place… as part of a centuries-long policy of sailing around the world and stealing other people’s property at gunpoint. It was only through British colonialism that the Falklands are British today, and accusing the Argentinians of colonialism is akin to defending his position by wailing “yeah? but we did it first!”

Let me reiterate, I don’t believe the Argentinians have a valid claim to the Falkland Islands. I do think that this whole mess could be resolved though if Britain were to say… “Yes, the only reason we are there is because of a morally abhorrent policy that we engaged in for many years, and even though the Falklands is at the benign end of that policy we can see how it still looks bad in the eyes of others – particularly ex-colonies. Therefore as a gesture of goodwill, we will ring-fence any tax revenue raised from the Falklands – very small now, but who knows in the future – and place it into an unambiguously ethical overseas development programme (earthquake relief or something). The people there are British. And they want to remain British. But we will not reap any financial benefit from our possession of the islands – especially while we’re still spending a bunch of money helping the Americans invade places in what looks suspiciously like a continuation of that abhorrent policy that we’re accusing the Argentinians of adopting.”

I think that would be a perfect British response to Argentinian demands and may even – over time – slowly defuse the tension. But I doubt we’ll ever see such a response. Instead Cameron and his successors will continue to antagonise the government in Buenos Aires with accusations of colonialism and whatever other incendiary twaddle can be blurted out, until the day the British navy is so depleted as to make a defence of the islands untenable. At which point, a thoroughly pissed off Argentina will invade again.

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Dec 2011

The Final Countdown?

I’ve been keeping a pretty close eye on the negotiations, tantrums, pratfalls and other shenanigans that go to make up European politics of late. My mind has been well and truly boggled by the cavalier fashion in which politicians from across the political spectrum (though mostly on the centre-right, for it is they who hold the balance of power in Europe these days) have relegated the interests of the people below the interests of financial institutions and other corporations.

Fractured EU FlagOf course, it has become part of the standard rhetoric of the left (and I’m just as guilty of it as anyone) to suggest that our political establishment has effectively ceased representing those who elected them and now focus exclusively upon representing the rich and powerful. It’s a line that’s gotten old through constant use. But rarely has this claim been so self-evidently true as during the past few months.

Now, there are those who would argue that there’s no reason why the interests of financial institutions and other corporations should necessarily conflict with those of the population at large. And I’m more than willing to concede that. There are all manner of hypothetical scenarios (and even a few historical ones) in which the interests of the rich and powerful complement the interests of the rest of us. However it is only the irredeemably partisan or the unfortunately half-witted who would claim our current situation qualifies as such a scenario.

We have allowed ourselves to be manoeuvred into a position where the very people we elect to represent our interests are gleefully handing our collective wealth over to the already super-rich. Where hospitals and schools are being closed in order to funnel public money into banks. Where croneyism and outright corruption have become the basic modus operandus of government. And where those who are already poverty-stricken – or in danger of becoming so – are expected to tighten their belts so that the wealthy may accumulate ever more obscene fortunes.

Both politics and finance are supposed to serve the wider population. We elect politicians to represent our interests directly. The financial institutions that make up modern Market Capitalism are, theoretically at least, permitted to exist by society in order to make the distribution of wealth an efficient process. Certainly there is nothing written into the rules of the Free Market system that says the wealth much be distributed equitably, but there should be a basic fairness to the system… one that, at the very least, allows the vast majority of people to live comfortably. If the Market does not achieve this aim then it is failing society as a whole and needs to be replaced with something else. After all, it’s supposed to be The People who ultimately call the shots and decide how society is structured. Not a handful of bond traders, political insiders and bankers.

Right now, however, we have arrived at a situation where politics and finance have united against the wider population. For several decades they have been united in self-interest and marginal cranks such as myself have been decrying this and warning against the inevitable tragedy that would result. However, at the same time, this unholy cabal was careful to provide a half-decent standard of living for the wider population (yes, yes, largely at the expense of the billions of poor in the so-called “developing” world, but I’m talking specifically about the people, governments and institutions of Europe). This staved off revolution and also effectively muted much of the criticism from the marginal cranks in the anti-capitalist brigade. It’s difficult to convince someone that they’re being screwed-over by the wealthy elite when they are flush with endorphins from their purchase of a 42-inch HD LED-backlit flat screen TV. We’re all monkeys after all, and easily distracted by shiny toys (me as much as anyone… a recent gift of an iPad2 has left me cooing and swiping the touch-screen like any other monkey – and I don’t even like Apple!)

But the past couple of years have seen the beginnings of a shift… we are leaving the world of Huxley and rejoining that of Orwell. No longer are the financial and political elites willing to share even the crumbs of the great wealth they are accumulating. They have become so self-assured in their positions of power that their rapacious appetites extend now even to those crumbs. Public services are slashed to the bone, yet increased taxation on the rich cannot even be considered. In nations without jobs, welfare benefits are cut and then grudgingly distributed, yet corporate tax rates are sacrosanct. The few remaining assets of a demoralised populace are flogged to ultra-rich investors at rock-bottom prices in order to pay off debts run up by those self-same ultra-rich investors.

David Cameron (British Prime Minister)Last Friday this wealth-grab by the powerful played out in an odd fashion in the theatre of European politics when David Cameron (the right-wing British Prime Minister) threw a strop and stormed out of negotiations supposedly designed to solve the European debt crisis and save the euro. Well, he “used his veto”, which amounts to the same thing in Brussels. His stated reason for this break with the rest of Europe was his desire to protect the City of London… in other words, the UK’s financial sector.

There was much that was odd about this whole process. Firstly, Cameron’s veto doesn’t really protect the City of London… I could write a whole post on why this is the case (and may yet do), but in reality he may actually have exposed The City to significant harm should the other 26 EU members draw up a treaty that covers financial services. It’s also worth pointing out that while about 10% of Britain’s GDP is generated by the financial sector, a whopping 40% is generated by exports to the EU… his veto doesn’t affect Britain’s position in the Common Market, but it may well foreshadow a serious strain in the relationship between the UK and Europe; a strain that places the 40% at risk despite doing little to protect the 10%. He was effectively attempting to place the interests of his City Chums ahead of the interests of the general populace and may simply have succeeded in shafting both.

Also, by playing to the rabid euro-sceptic wing of the Tory Party, he has driven a massive wedge down the middle of his coalition government which may or may not turn out to be a political disaster. Incidentally, every time I see that over-fed jubilant Tory MP call Cameron’s strategy a triumph for Britain’s “bulldog spirit” I can’t help but think, “yeah, you waddle around shitting where it’s inappropriate, only pausing briefly to lick your own balls… truly an appropriate image for the modern Tory”.

Increasing the oddness of the Cameron sulk, though, is the fact that the draft treaty on which he has turned his back is a right-wing financial-political-elite wet dream. What’s being proposed by the Franco-German alliance and eagerly lapped up by the rest of the nations involved is a terrible betrayal of the people of Europe. It runs the risk of legally restricting future national governments from adopting left-wing economic policies. It runs the risk of setting back the power of labour unions by a hundred years. It runs the risk of permanently transferring sovereignty from national populaces towards international financial institutions. And all the while it – bizarrely – completely fails to address the current European debt crisis or do anything to stabilise the euro.

Last week’s summit can be summarised as an attempt by the European elite to use the current crisis as cover for imposing a permanent state of austerity on the wider public without even trying to solve that crisis. It’s the kind of thing that Cameron should have eagerly embraced, but was too beholden to his own marginal cranks to do so. And by being the only nation outside the proposed treaty, Britain may end up being damaged as a whole, despite the treaty being a betrayal. It’s all very odd.

What Europe needs right now is a couple of socialist revolutions followed by mass nationalisations. I can only hope that the Irish government, for one, is quietly printing new banknotes and making plans – however provisional – to exit the common currency. I have my doubts they’re smart enough for that, but we may well find out in the coming months.

Cameron photo courtesy of TopNews

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Feb 2007

David Cameron and cannabis

There’s an essay by Robin Fishwick called In Defence of Hypocrisy which everyone should read. It’s very short but wonderfully perceptive, and it makes a point that should probably be made more often. In fact, I’m a walking illustrative example of Fishwick’s point. As mentioned recently, I was a strict vegetarian for most of my life; I did some hunt-sabbing in my late teens and I’ve been on a bunch of anti-vivisection or anti-whaling or anti-bloodsports demonstrations. I’d even put myself in the philosophically difficult position of believing that animals have certain ‘rights’ and that our behaviour towards them is in the sphere of ‘morality’.

However, since my early twenties, my footwear of choice has been the classic 7-eye, ankle-length Doc Martin black leather boot. And you wouldn’t believe the number of times I’ve been hassled about this fact. Confirmed carnivores, fresh from stuffing their faces in MacDonalds somehow feel justified in pointing out my ethical failing. “How can you wear leather boots”, they demand, “and yet still call yourself a vegetarian?” Of course by now I’ve developed a full repertoire of responses depending upon the person challenging me. My personal favourite is “The same way you can have shit for brains and still call yourself a human being”.

Thing is, my reasons for wearing leather Docs wouldn’t pass the ethical tests against which I judge the food I eat. I don’t have some great moral justification… it’s just that I really really like the boots, they’re very comfortable, and they work out quite cheap (despite not being cheap to buy) as they only need replacing every five years or so. I guess I’m simply failing to meet the ethical standards I have set for myself. I’m a hypocrite.

But I’m in good company. The vast majority of the people I truly admire have stuggled and continue to struggle to reach the standards they have set for themselves. If you’re reading this and thinking “Bah! I always achieve the standards I set”, then I humbly suggest you’ve not set them high enough. Albert Einstein, a great thinker and a profoundly moral man, was a strong proponent of vegetarianism for most of his life. But Einstein was also a human being with human failings and a real taste for German sausage. In letters to friends he wrote about his “terribly guilty conscience” every time he gave into temptation and ate his favourite food.

Should we deride the man for saying that “Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet” and then occasionally succumbing to the temptation of a smoked sausage sarnie? Or should we celebrate him for recognising a truth and doing his best to live his life accordingly, even if he failed from time to time? If it’s flawless heroes you want, then the human race probably isn’t the best place to look for them. We are imperfect creatures, and those of us who strive to overcome those imperfections – despite knowing that battle can never be completely won – shouldn’t be berated for each stumble.

Passive Vs. Aggressive Hypocrisy

But that’s hardly the whole story. There’s a hypocrisy that can’t be defended. One that is not the passive failure of individuals to meet the standards they set for themselves, but the aggressive insistence of others that we all meet standards they themselves fail to achieve. This form of hypocrisy can usually be seen in the three ‘P’s (parents, priests and politicians). So a child is threatened with a grounding if they get caught with a cigarette, despite the father smoking 40 a day. The congregation is threatened with eternal damnation if they steal, by a priest pilfering cash from the poor-box. And the public get threatened with a criminal record and imprisonment if they possess cannabis, by a politician who was an occasional toker for several years of his life.

All three of those are utterly indefensible. If a father wishes to punish his child for smoking a cigarette (not an unreasonable thing to do by any means) then he needs to give them up first. If a priest wishes to be a moral leader; to proscribe a standard of behaviour and threaten punishment for those who fail to achieve it; then that priest needs to live to that standard. And if a politician wants to enforce a law under which cannabis smokers are jailed or receive a criminal record (along with the various restrictions that places on the rest of your life), then that politician better not have been a toker himself.

Here’s an interesting question… does anyone believe it would have been possible for David Cameron to become leader of the British Conservative Party if he had a criminal record? Oh come on Tories! Be honest, there’s just no fricking way he’d even have gotten selected as an election candidate. Yet Mr. Cameron and his party have a policy that states clearly that Mr. Cameron should have been criminalised for his earlier actions. I love the description of the punishment Cameron received when his cannabis-smoking was discovered at Eton…

Eton launched an investigation into reports that some boys were buying drugs in the nearby town. During the course of the inquiry, Cameron and a number of other pupils admitted smoking pot…

Cameron was ‘gated’- meaning that he was deprived of school privileges and barred from leaving the premises or being visited by friends or family. His punishment lasted for about a week.

An Eton contemporary said the punishment had been particularly humiliating for the future Leader of the Opposition because it had come shortly before the annual ‘Fourth of June’ gala day, when the college is thrown open to pupils’ parents, relatives and friends who are invited to enjoy exhibitions, speeches, sports events and the traditional ‘Procession of Boats’.

‘Cameron was gated just beforehand, so his parents, who had been looking forward to spending the day with him, had to apologise to their friends,’ the student said. ‘It was all painfully embarrassing. But after that he pulled himself together and became an exemplary pupil.’

Awwww… poor lickle David… gated for a full week! And all that embarrassment. Meanwhile the latest Tory policy statement I can find on the subject of cannabis demands that the government reclassify cannabis as a Class B drug (rather than Class C as it’s currently classified). This means the Tory Party believe that anyone caught in possession of cannabis should be jailed for between 3 months and 5 years, receive a minimum fine of GBP2,500 and have a criminal record for the rest of their lives.

The Tories are prepared to forgive Cameron his youthful indiscretions of course. They’ve just spent over a decade in the wilderness with one unelectable leader after another; political expediency demands that they turn a blind eye to Cameron’s pot-smoking (and coke-snorting allegedly) days. But that’s just not good enough. The only reason David Cameron is within touching distance of power is because the policy he proposes regarding cannabis possession doesn’t apply to him.

Careful with that Vote

I was talking about the upcoming Irish elections with a friend recently. He was advocating a vote for Fine Gael for tactical reasons (a classic ‘anyone but the incumbent’ strategy that involves voting for the strongest opposition even if you don’t like them). “But D,” I argued, “you can’t vote for Fine Gael… you’re a pot head!” He dismissed this initially by pointing out that he didn’t vote on single issues. “Yeah, but this is one hell of a single issue D. You’re electing someone who wants to put you in prison. Who wants to take your family, your home and your job away from you. It’s sheer insanity for you to want that person in power.”

He’s reconsidering his position.

And I damn well hope David Cameron is reconsidering his. I’d love to ask him whether he believes his life would be better had his cannabis possession been subjected to the punishment he advocates for others? Would Mr. Cameron be a better, more-productive member of society if he’d been expelled from school, spent three months in a juvenile detention centre, and received a criminal record barring him from numerous positions (as well as travel to several countries)? Would society be better off to have one more half-educated ex-con with a chip on his shoulder?

We are all of us hypocrites from time to time, but David Cameron is guilty of an aggressive hypocrisy that makes him dangerous and untrustworthy and – I sincerely hope – entirely unelectable.

UPDATE: It strikes me that being “a half-educated ex-con with a chip on his shoulder” probably qualifies as “a better, more-productive member of society” than does Leader of the Conservative Party. However I suspect Mr. Cameron doesn’t think that.

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