Science for Democracy in the Financial Times

Science for Democracy in the Financial Times

The Financial Times published a letter penned by our coordinator Marco Perduca and programme officer Guido Long on the recent news in the UK that some Conservative leadership candidates have used drugs in the past.

Below is the full text of the letter:

The story dominating the weekend news that Conservative leadership hopeful Michael Gove used cocaine more than 20 years ago appears wholly out of place. In particular, the fact that he and others, such as Rory Stewart, had to apologise for what is a purely private behaviour (in the case of Mr Stewart he wasn’t even in the UK) had a surreal feel.

Instead of discussing their solutions to what has been dubbed the “biggest issue in a generation”, the housing crisis, or environmental degradation and climate change, candidates to be the next PM spent their weekend explaining which drugs they took and why. Home secretary Sajid Javid, whose briefing includes the subject matter, declared that simply using drugs is a crime and hinted that who does is complicit in murder.

As is too often the case, nobody looks at the evidence. Yes, drugs can be very harmful and cause a supply chain of pain, but they do so mostly because they are illegal. The fact that most candidates to lead the country have used drugs in the past shows that mere drug use doesn’t ruin one’s life. It is always the most disadvantaged members of society who suffer the most.

We would expect leadership candidates to detail their plans for a sensible drug policy, instead of detailing how sensible (or not) their youth choices were.