Triple-jacked over a steeplehammer and jessop jessop jessop jessop jessop

Before I start writing this, I just want to point everyone in the direction of the comments to my Joe The Barbarian post. There’s some fantastic stuff there, and I’m just sorry I’ve not been online enough to engage in that discussion more. It’s comment threads like that that make the ridiculous amount of time I spend on this worthwhile.

A couple of days ago, two teenagers died. This is, unequivocally, a bad thing. It’s also not, unfortunately, that unusual.

These two teenagers were, by all accounts, taking methadone, a highly dangerous opiate. They were also, apparently, drinking a large amount of alcohol – which is not only dangerous in itself, but which when combined with methadone can lead to respiratory problems and even death. They were also taking a substance called mephedrome (4-methylmethcathinone) but which the press, for God only knows what reason, are referring to as ‘miaow miaow’ (a large number of people have as a result also been asking if they’d been taking yellow bentines or clarky cat) – an amphetamine-type stimulant. It is suspected that one or more of these substances may have contributed to their deaths.

So far, so reasonable. It’s the kind of thing that happens all too often, but it *does* happen, and there appears very little we can do about it.

The press, however, have been stating that ‘miaow miaow’ – and that alone – *definitely* killed these two people. This is entirely possible – having spent a couple of years working with mental patients with substance dependencies, I am all too familiar with the damage amphetamine-type stimulants can cause (even caffeine, in sufficiently large doses, can do some alarming things to you, as I discovered myself about eighteen months ago – caffeine is an amphetamine-type stimulant too). However, given that as far as can be discerned only one other death has ever been caused by use of the substance, which is used by (at least) thousands of people, I would suggest the burden of proof is on those making this claim.

The response of the Conservative Party to this has been instructive. It hasn’t been just to suggest criminalising mephedrone (I wouldn’t agree with this, but given the drug’s pharmacology it would at least be consistent with current drug policy), but to say they will criminalise ‘all legal highs’.

This has led to many jokes on Twitter about coffee and chocolate being banned, but to be honest I don’t think we should be giving them ideas. Just because something sounds insane and unworkable doesn’t mean that the current political classes won’t try to do it anyway, as the history of the last thirty years should show anyone. Just because it’s pretty much impossible to formulate a legal definition of ‘legal high’ doesn’t mean they won’t pass such a law.

Now, I’m voting for the Liberal Democrats this election, because I agree with the majority (though far from all) of their policies, because I think their elected representatives are generally doing a good job, and because the other two major parties are, frankly, evil.

However, given that the Lib Dems are unlikely in the extreme to form the next government – and I’d be very surprised if we even get in in my constituency (which has, allowing for boundary changes, had the same MP for forty years, and apart from a four-year period in the thirties has had a Labour MP since 1922 or 1906, depending on which of the old constituencies that make it up you look at) – here’s something that could make me vote for either of them.

If they’d just promise to *DO NOTHING* for five years.

I would gladly vote for a government that I knew was – unlike every government of my lifetime – not going to actively make things worse. Even if things stayed just as bad as they are, just *NOT MAKING THEM WORSE* would be good enough for me. No new legislation passed, no big organisational changes, just let everyone get on with it for five years.

A government that would say “We’re not going to start any more wars of aggression, or torture any more people. We’ll keep the current ridiculous drug laws, but if someone discovers a slightly different method of getting off their tits, good for them. If the DEBill gets passed before the election, we’ll keep it, but not criminalise all the trivial technical ways round it that will become popular two days after it passes. We’ll keep all the laws against ‘extreme pornography’, but if someone somewhere discovers a new way of getting themselves off, we won’t stop them. The schools and hospitals will continue to be crap, but we won’t, for example, get rid of two more mental health beds every single day on average, like Labour have since 1997, so they won’t get any crapper. The BBC will keep producing crap that you don’t watch, but it’ll still be there for at least another five years and its executives won’t have to grovel to us and chop bits off in order to keep the service going. We won’t deliberately inflate any massive economic bubbles that take money from the poor and give it to the rich in the name of ‘growth’, and if any bubbles happen and then burst, we won’t take money from the poor and give it to the rich in the name of ‘recovery’. Things will still be bad in five years – but they won’t be *WORSE*”

If either of the two main parties were to say that – and mean it – they’d get my vote.

But as it is, I’ll be voting for a party which not only won’t make things worse, it might even make things slightly better if it’s given the choice. Why not join me?

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5 Responses to Triple-jacked over a steeplehammer and jessop jessop jessop jessop jessop

  1. Digital Imbecile says:

    Just wanted to say, I was likely going to vote for the Liberal Democrats anyway, based mostly on instinctive dislike for the Conservatives and Labour’s truly heroic efforts to make me hate them over that last decade.

    But the stuff here and in PEP has made me feel a bit more positive about the whole idea. I think I might well vote for the Lib Dems because I genuinely want to and agree with them.

    So…thanks?

  2. pillock says:

    Meanwhile back at the ranch, the Liberal Party of Canada has been so self-involved for so long that it’s made them really ineffectual against the Conservatives…and maybe they lean on the Conservatives’ ugly brinksmanship, because it means they don’t really have to do anything, all they have to do is wait around for the Conservatives to lose their minority government…someday…and in the meantime the Conservatives are so awful that the Liberals figure they don’t have to do much of anything at all to keep their own base from wandering.

    Out. Of. Touch. So it’s entirely possible that after this next election I’ll have to reverse everything I’ve ever said about the STV system. Super-extra-poisonous Conservatives change the whole deal by radicalizing it…making me uncomfortably aware of the fact that I can’t have this sort of thing going on for the next twenty years…! A real honest-to-Christ Thatcherite party in power, in Canada? It’d be the failure of the system, in a way even Mulroney didn’t represent the failure of the system.

    Sorry, just perpetually pissed-off about the whole deal. Mulroney was bad, he was really bad, but at heart he was still a parliamentarian. Harper’s not.

    Argh. So angry.

  3. Weird, they mentioned the whole “meow meow” drug thing here in the Spanish news. No mention whatsoever that the teenagers did other drugs, just saying that it was this drug that killed them.

  4. colsmi says:

    In 20 years of teaching, I never saw a single piece of reform that had been properly piloted and evaluated before implementation. Not a single one. And the havoc created in the educational system by this is beyond measure and effectively beyond imagining too. As each ineptly designed, inappropriate raft of changes interacted with all of those which had come before, the problems in education multiplied & mutated & multiplied again. I cannot emphasise what a strange thing education has become, what a broken machine it is, and what surreal outcomes are constantly being produced by it, despite the noble & effective efforts of so many teachers. It’s as if some great social science experiment had been initiated and left to run with periodic and irrational imputs, allowing observers to assess how human beings will strive to create the illusion of normalcy when the evidence points to precisely the opposite being true.

    That experience has led me to a form of radical conservatism, with a small ‘c’, and of no relation to the right wing of politics. It’s organising principle is simple: you don’t mess with any area of social policy without the evidence to justify doing so, and without the machinery in place to monitor the process of change & manage it accordingly. Which I believe is pretty much what you’re saying. Nobody from any party should be considering changing anything other than the most urgent social problems, and those changes should be as limited and rational as possible. Of course, there are a host of problems associated with such platitudes. Which evidence to listen to? Rationality according to whom? But as general principles, I believe they’re essential. Because any culture which finds it difficult, for example, to teach its’ children to read and write cannot be trusted to focus on more complex educational issues yet. (And believe me, the data yielded by government statistics grossly under-estimates how functionally illiterate the majority of our students are in many basic skills. Ask a sixth form what a sentence is, or how to construct one, or what the purpose of a sentence is, and I can pretty much assure you that your question and answer session will end there in far, far too many cases.) I too would give my vote to any party which promised that it would spend the next five years simply reducing the mass of social policy expectations to a bare and basic minimum, researching the issues, piloting the conclusions, and then presenting a preliminary set of proposals for the five years beyond the next parliament. And while this is happening, well should be left well alone. It’s not that I’m suggesting a Wellsian government by mythically dispassionate experts, or pretending that the process would be in any way simple. Nor am I in any way a supporter of the right-wing models of limited government. I just think we’re a culture being driven more & more insane by a combination of the myth of the necessity of constant change, and the political expediency of constructing change without reference to valid, reliable & representative evidence.

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