Tory logic and morality teaches us that you can’t admit to a history of drug use and be a teacher, but you can be Education Minister and aspire to become Prime Minister. It teaches us that it’s absolutely appalling that Diane Abbot sipped a can of mojito on a train, but it was just a youthful indiscretion that a 30 year old Michael Gove spent much of the 90s coked off his face while at the same time writing an article for the Times in which he called for tough laws on drug use. What he must have meant was tough laws for working class people, and a nod and wink for the well connected middle class like him. Still, let’s be charitable, you must need something to take the edge off voting to kick away the crutches of disabled people.
We now have proof that drugs are a slipperly slope to perdition, first it’s weed, then coke, then opium, and before you know it you’re a Conservative cabinet minister. Yes kiddies, it’s the great Tory drug-off. Just say NO! to the Tories. It’s the drugs that I feel sorry for, having their reputations ruined by Tory leadership candidates. Don’t do drugs kids, or you might end up looking like Michael Gove or Boris Johnson.
In lieu of winning personalities, the Conservative leadership candidates are now vying with one another to create colourful background stories about their experiences with drugs while continuing to support legislation that puts drug users in jail. Just a few months ago Sajid Javid was promising to crack down on middle class drug users, only now he’s discovered that his own party is full of them, and we’re being told that it only makes them more human. It’s like a stoned version of Spartacus, in which one after another they all stand up to announce “I have the munchies!” “No. I have the munchies!” They might all have done drugs, but it’s pretty obvious when we gaze upon the shambles that is British politics that none of them were performance enhancing.
Michael Gove and Boris Johnson have fessed up to a bit of snorting, although they do that live on TV ever time someone questions them about that lie about £350 million that was on the side of a bus. Rory Stewart says that he once accidentally smoked opium, a tale which sounds as plausible as those accounts of a patient in A&E with a hoover attachment which has ‘accidentally’ managed to find its way up an intimate body orifice. Rory just fell on the opium pipe, nurse, honest.
For Jeremy Hunt and Andrea Leadsom the drug of choice was cannabis. This came as a surprise, since most people thought that Jeremy had taken loads of drugs from the NHS, along with loads of doctors, nurses, support staff, and funding. No one ever took Jeremy and Andrea as the Cheech and Chong of the Tory party. But they didn’t inhale. They just suck.
Meanwhile Jacob Rees Mogg is about to come clean about the shameful fact that he once nibbled an After Eight at 7.45 while nanny wasn’t looking, and Dominic Raab once bit the head off a bat. Dominic is so out of it that he actually thought that he could prorogue parliament and suspend democracy.
Just thank your lucky stars than none of them have confessed to licking toads, which is a blessing considering how many toads there are on the Conservative back benches. Since the Tories can’t deliver a hard Brexit, they’re going to deliver hard drugs instead. Brexit does have many similarities to a Class A drug. It creates delusions, a sense of invincible superiority, makes people prone to living in a fantasy, and it has a dreadful come down once it crashes into reality. It makes you long for the days when the party was collectively shamed by a junior minister who indulged in donning a pair of fishnets for a spot of recreational auto-asphyxiation with a poppers soaked orange segment in his mouth.
Let’s be honest here, of all the many things that Michael Gove has done which make him loathsome, doing a few lines of cocaine in the 1990s isn’t one of them. I lived in Easterhouse during the 1980s. I had friends who were criminalised because of cannabis related offences. They did a lot of drugs but were never so out their trees that they voted Tory.
But joking aside, their lives were blighted by their drug experiences. Not by the drug itself, certainly not the much weaker forms of cannabis which were prevalent over 30 years ago, but by the way in which the state punished them for it. If any of them had been caught with Class A drugs like Gove admitted to possession of, they’d have gone to jail. But even without a jail sentence, if you had a minor drug conviction in Easterhouse during the mass unemployment of the 1980s you could forget about ever getting a job. Many descended into a pit of hopeless despair which they never managed to get out of. Michael Gove and his drug addled leadership competitors hope to use their drug experiences to give themselves a spot of colourful back story in the Tory leadership contest. Compare and contrast.
The current Health Secretary and leadership hopeful Matt Hancock hasn’t admitted to taking any drugs, but he has been taking £32,000 in donations from the chair of a think tank that wants to privatise the NHS. Rory Stewart’s leadership campaign is being funded by a Russian hedge fund manager. Boris Johnson’s campaign has received tens of thousands of pounds from donors linked to tax havens. Jeremy Hunt is being backed by interests representing the financial sector.
That’s the really dangerous Tory addiction, their addiction to dark money and being funded by secretive think tanks backed by billionaires and multinational corporations seeking to privatise public services and avoid paying their fair share in tax. The Tories mainline on money given to them by organisations and wealthy individuals who want to destroy workers’ and social protections in order to create a capitalist free for all which will only benefit the rich, the powerful, and the well-connected. And then they and their supporters criticise pro-independence bloggers for doing crowdfunders.
The Tories were then and remain now the party of class hypocrisy. They’re a party that’s funded by interests which oppose public services, which seek to ensure that the rich avoid paying for those public services upon which their business models depend. That’s what’s loathsome, that’s the Tory addiction that is truly damaging to our politics and public life.
My new book has just been published by Vagabond Voices. Containing the best articles from The National from 2016 to date. Weighing in at over 350 pages, this is the biggest and best anthology of Wee Gingerisms yet. This collection of pieces covers the increasingly demented Brexit years, and the continuing presence and strength of Scotland’s independence movement.
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