Media try to drag up ‘shady’ drugs past. Entire nation yawns.

Quick poll. Does anyone, anywhere, give a honking bum trumpet whether David Cameron smoked cannabis in his schooldays or not? Certain sections of the media seem unhealthily obsessed with this ‘story’, for reasons that I cannot fathom. If he didn’t smoke jazz cigarettes a quarter of a century ago, then there is no story. Whereas if he did smoke jazz cigarettes a quarter of a century ago… then there is still no story. None. Whatsoever. In the meantime I have yet to hear a single person respond with anything other than yawns – not even the Home Secretary is bothering to make political capital out of this. Even Norman Tebbit recommends that Dave simply make an official announcement to clarify the matter once and for all. That’s right: Norman Tebbit.

I wrote about this subject when it first came up during the Conservative Party’s leadership contest in October 2005. If only Dave had followed my advice, he probably wouldn’t have had to interrupt his Sunday schedule yesterday. As I said at the time:

It’s a shame that he can’t just release a statement along the lines of “In my youth, like many people in this country, I used some drugs on a recreational basis. Whilst it was fun at the time, it was a long time ago and bears no relevance to my life anymore. Now that we’ve got that cleared up, please can we move onto the real issues at stake here?” Just release that and kill the issue cold. Perhaps then we could finally engage in an intelligent conversation and free debate about drugs that doesn’t immediately degenerate into a cacophony of hypocritical bluster at the very mention of the word. 

And it is hypocritical, of course. Journalists whipping up a story about someone’s predilection for illegal substances is like a troupe of clowns starting a campaign to punish the wearing of big shoes and white face make up. Media folk everywhere: give it up, nobody cares. This must be the first recorded instance of lots of fire, but no smoke. In the meantime, Cameron should clarify one way or the other. “Yes, I did smoke cannabis. What of it?” or “No, I didn’t smoke cannabis. What of it?” Either way, outside of tabloid press editorial meetings, nobody is remotely interested.


Centrist. Atlanticist. Dry liberal. Anti-totalitarian. Post-ideological pragmatist. Child of The Enlightenment. Toucan.

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5 comments on “Media try to drag up ‘shady’ drugs past. Entire nation yawns.
  1. ph says:

    Yes the whole thing was very odd. Initially the media including the BBC worked itself up into a frenzy about Cameron’s pot, but nobody cared. Then the media moved the story onto the fact that nobody cared and finally they end up with “Media works itself up into a fenzy over story that no one cares about – why oh why”.

    I think we need to go back to a time when people were prepared to say – “There is no news today – goodnight”. But alas today’s news media is about filling more and more time and this has degraded the profession somewhat.

  2. tafka PP says:

    Yawn indeed. I think Obama has got it right.

    Who knows, maybe someday, prior drug use will be nothing more than a box they have to declare along with “interests” like large country mansions or birdwatching.

  3. tafka PP says:

    “box they have to tick when they declare interests”, even

    Was so worried about screwing up the hyperlink I forgot how to speak English

  4. Citizen Sane says:

    I think we need to go back to a time when people were prepared to say – “There is no news today – goodnight”.

    Brilliant. Was there ever such a time? I’d love it if I turned the news on one night and it was John Snow just shrugging his shoulders and saying “Nope, not much going on today. Come back tomorrow.”

    Tafka PP – I think in respect of his drugs past Obama is a breath of fresh air. No prevaricating or semantics just straight up: “Yes, I took drugs. Now, let’s press on.”

  5. Anonymous says:

    I’ve been thinking more and more recently how there is far too much media generally these days. Acres of print, thousands of hours of airtime every day to fill.

    This is why the media need to try and whip small stories into something bigger, often with very negative consequences. Its also why we have rubbish on the tv and pointless ‘celebrities’ making a foretune for behaving badly. Jade Goody, Chantelle, Colleen whatserface, Paris Hilton etc etc…

    On top of it all they’re terrible role models, many kids today don’t have ambitions except to appear on Big Brother. Sigh….

    As for DC, I’m sure people may have been more concerned if he had a crack habit or something but smoking joints at uni, I’m guessing that a fair proportion students have at least tried it.


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