I strongly suspect the reaction of many 25- to 50-year-olds to the “revelation” that Michael Gove enjoyed – sorry, deeply regrets – the taking of a class A drug is a weary “Who cares?” (Gove’s bid for No 10 on the brink after drugs admission, 10 June).
The late 1980s and the years beyond saw a significant proportion of this age group habitually enjoying the highs, and occasional lows, of class A drugs such as ecstasy and cocaine. They also, along with many others, smoked cannabis almost as readily as they had a drink. Many still do. They have gone on to lead fulfilling and successful lives working in the law, the media, education, banking etc.
Why do these politicians promote the falsehood that drug taking is somehow “a great regret” of theirs? Many look back on those days as some of the happiest, most exhilarating of their lives.
Of course, drug use continues to blight the lives of a huge number of people. But successive governments have been too squeamish to lead a national conversation about the most effective ways to address this. Perhaps Gove, as part of his prime ministerial bid, can offer some much-needed and brave leadership on this issue?
• Michael Gove regrets taking cocaine, saying, “it was a mistake”. Well it wasn’t, was it? It was a deliberate act which ignored National Crime Agency information that “drug trafficking is a major source of revenue for organised crime groups, many of whom are involved in other forms of serious crime such as firearms, modern slavery and immigration crime …”, to which we could add money laundering and illicit finance. Surely that is what he should be apologising for.
Professor Andrew Melrose
Faculty of Arts, University of Winchester
• Re “It’s ridiculous that Michael Gove’s drug use could prevent him from becoming Tory leader” (theguardian.com, 10 June), while there is a depressing truth to Simon Jenkins’s claim that “all politics is hypocrisy”, it is dispiriting to see it suggested that being caught in a galling example of it should not be held against Gove. Everyone makes mistakes, but some are punished more harshly for them than others. Teachers struck off for possession of class A drugs – under rules brought in by Gove’s education department – can attest to that, to say nothing of the thousands languishing in prisons across the country for similar offences.
Myths, half truths and misinformation – peddled by Gove himself – played their part in the leave vote, but so did widespread cynicism about our politics and the people associated with it. MPs’ expenses, Iraq and the Brexit debacle have fatally undermined public confidence in politicians. Scandals like this will only reinforce that.
• While there has been a lot of comment regarding Michael Gove’s drug taking and whether it should affect his leadership bid, there has been little mention of his aptitude based on his record as secretary of state for education. He was reported as saying he wouldn’t take notice of experts, and called anyone opposing his reforms “blobs”.
• Michael Gove’s private life before he entered politics is one thing. Afterwards, in 2005, he co-authored a pamphlet that called for the denationalisation of the NHS. A co-author was Jeremy Hunt. Both disagreed with Donald Trump when he said the NHS would be on the table for discussion in a future US-UK trade deal. Are they being economical with the truth or do they have little regard for their own principles?
• Shame the Guardian of all papers couldn’t find space to mention the well-deserved knighthood for Lib Dem MP and tireless campaigner for mental health Norman Lamb (Queen’s birthday honours list, 8 June). Perhaps if his calls for drugs to be decriminalised had been taken up we’d be spared the attention you’re giving to Gove.
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