Alan Johnson became redder and redder as his anger mounted and righteous indignation welled over in his TV defence of his sacking of Professor Nutt (you couldn’t get a better name for a science professor if you tried). I thought he might explode.
I think his anger is really directed at himself. He has made a mistake – and seems to believe that if he huffs and puffs and goes out on the offensive – he will back up his position that advisers should not open their mouths in public if they disagree with the government – even if it is just to state a scientific fact about the harm levels of various substances.
Is our Home Secretary so insecure in his decision (remembering that Minsters decide) that he can’t go out there and robustly argue the policy case? He is quite right – he doesn’t have to take the advice (advisers advise). He has clearly decided not to. All he has to do is go out there and explain his reason. If it is because whatever the hierarchy of harm of cannabis in relation to alcohol he (the Government) believes that they need to send out tough messages regardless – that is their policy – and they should have the cojones to defend it.
Sacking the messenger who speaks the truth demonstrates how weak this government is. They are still clinging to the idea that you can deny argument and debate. It shows exactly how Parliament works – or more accurately doesn’t – when power is simply wielded to hide, squash, remove any opposition.
This is symptomatic of an even greater harm out there that stalks every state institution and authority currently – where regardless of professional or clinical opinion – management overrules it. The result is that the decisions that are made are less and less to do with what is right – but much more to do with authority and expedience. And the world grows more hostile, colder and dysfunctional in the wake of this abandonment of proper inclusive process.
Going back to the Government’s drug policy – it isn’t working – and unless and until they have the courage to accept inconvenient truths – it aint going to get any better.