So, I was having this row with my girlfriend...
Bad territory for the blog to open on, I’m sure, but bear with me. The row in question, on a Sunday night wandering back to her place from the cinema, was on the possibility of applying pressure on the chain chemists to publicly back legalisation of cannabis (on the basis that they are the most likely candidates for the “government regulated centres” we all talk about and it’s probably only worth a few billion pounds a year to them)
It’s worth noting at this stage that my dear girlfriend is a Politics undergraduate. This is not something that facilitates harmonious discussion of policy between us, given my tendency towards technocracy. Having no background in political theory or existentialist philosophy (something a girlfriend with a mild Sartre obsession finds abnormally important), I am deemed insufficiently skilled in the arts of rhetoric and, which is worse, insufficiently grounded in the realpolitik.
So anyway, there we were going back and forth on the relative effects on shareholder opinion of media reaction and cold, hard cash when it occurred to me that the argument she was making was really just the dominant political argument of the last thirty years, namely;
“We can’t do that! What would the Daily Mail say?”
I know that the characterisation is not exactly fair; after all, the Daily Express would be just as bad if they didn’t have Princess Di to be obsessed about…
The question stands though, and has become steadily more relevant, not least since ITV abandoned serious journalism in favour of becoming the televisual arm of the Mail (and while we’re on that bit of allusion, let’s give thought to how much better the service would be if Mark Austin actually did wear a balaclava and hold an AK47 throughout each broadcast…) Hateful as the whole idea is, however, I don’t actually resent having to deal with it; the state of play is the state of play.
What I object to is the idea that the problems are the first thing I have to deal with. There is a massive logical difference between deciding your position and adapting it to political reality, and deciding what is politically feasible and adapting it to your theoretical position. New Labour crossed that line in 1994 and it is the thing that has killed them ever since; David Cameron led the Tories across last year and it will kill them too.
I mention all this because I’m so delighted by We Can Cut Crime, just as a reminder that we still do policy the right way, by deciding what needs to be done and seeing how to do it. We will be attacked for it, undoubtedly, but by people who in their subconscious will be deeply jealous that we are able to.
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