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.