Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Gordon Brown Loves Mephedrone


Mephedrone is everywhere. On toilet seats, mirrors, keys, cards and notes. In students' noses, down raver's throats. Most importantly, for the future of this country, it's in our Prime Minister's head.

Two young men from Scunthorpe died on Monday. Mephedrone's been cited as the foremost cause. In each article you will read on this, buried somewhere beneath the fourth or fifth paragraph, there's mention that the guys had been drinking heavily and also taken methadone before they died. Without delving into the scientific specifics of these substances, meph is an upper, meth is a downer. People take uppers before they take downers. A property which the two drugs share, is that, unlike booze, MDMA or ketamine (etc), they affect the user immediately. Thus follows that many people are blaming the breakfast for what essentially was the dinner's fault.

So why meph and not meth? Because meph is new and intriguing. It's the toyboy to heroin's geriatric. And we're all cougars. And that's an analogy too far. What I mean is, if you're in the newsagents buying some ciggies and you're faced with a headline as ridiculous as 'Meow Meow Raver Drug Kills Kids', and you (rightfully) don't know what it means, and you get some change back for your cigarettes, you'll happily pay a couple of quid to find out what The Daily Twat even meant by that headline. On the very basic principle that new news shifts papers, mew mews will bring profit to tabs and broadsheets alike.

Gurndon Brown

I am not rushing to the defence of mephedrone. Anything intoxicating enough to work as a get-out-of-school-free card for up to 180 kids needs to undergo testing. And it goes without saying that the government is responsible for any restrictions imposed upon a substance. So jolly good then, that Peter Mandelson has piped up. Yes, Peter Mandelson. The man who resides in the cabinet as Business, Innovation and Skills Secretary. He's said that he'd never heard of meph before, but that his cabinet will: "take any action that is needed... to avert such tragic consequences occurring in the future". Well that's awfully nice of you, Mandy, but who overdosed and made you Health Secretary?

"Aaand pinch...aaannnd sniff.."

Why isn't Alan Johnson, the actual person in charge of Health policy, talking about mephedrone after these two deaths? He's had "grave concerns" about the drug for at least a month, but he's keeping schtum for now. Maybe he doesn't want to face the inevitable double embarrassment that I'll endeavour to illustrate in the next two sentences. Firstly, mephedrone's been available in the UK for long enough for it to filter down to kids aged 8. It must be incredibly easy to manufacture as it's selling for as little as £7 a gram in some places. Secondly, Johnson's drugs advisory council has been made up of many people with no scientific expertise since he sacked Prof David Nutt. Why did he sack Prof Nutt? Because Labour's up shit creek and to have a scientist with a calm, rational approach to what really causes danger to our society on your side isn't going to win those pesky contested seats.

Peter Mandelson's a stumbling block for many voters. We haven't actually voted for to be in our present government, yet he's literally Lording around Westminster with a phone directory's worth of titles and a place set for him at nearly every committee and subcommittee going. By attaching 'Mandelson' to stories about the government restricting a 'killer' substance, he's mincing into many voters' good books.


It is also worth noting that meph is getting a bad rap (ha) because it isn't a controlled substance, but meth is. Meth is used as part of drug addiction rehabilitation, as a substitute for heroin. It's given out by the NHS to ex-junkies trying to wean themselves off of the juice. How these boys got their hands on meth will inevitably lead back to a story of government-sanctioned ineptitude. Whether it's a crooked pharmacist, inconsistent customs officials, or even a dodgy policeman, whoever's to blame for the drug which actually killed these boys is working in the public sector, at the taxpayers' expense.

Blaming meph also saves face in another way. Scientific tests will inevitably show that it's dangerous enough to be banned, so it's the perfect battle for Labour to play. As ITV1, televised debate and smear campaigns steer voters to judge party leaders by their personalities instead of their promises, shiny Cameron emerges as the frontrunner. What will work in Brown's favour, though, is if he can convert voters' many fears into effective policy in the run up to the election, as this is the only realm where he can outdo Cameron.


Note: This article was edited the morning after I wrote it just for a little clean-up

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