Richard Ingrams' Week: We can't go on blaming the system for drug problems

Share
Related Topics

It is not clear what Mr Julian Critchley, who wrote in these pages in favour of legalising all hard drugs, did when he was the director of the grandly titled UK Anti-Drug Co-ordination Unit.

But it is clear from reading his piece that he considered it was a waste of time and therefore he resigned. Still, before deciding whether or not we agree with his views, it would be nice to know a little bit more about what exactly he was up to.

Because like most people who argue, as Mr Critchley does, he blames abstract forces, not individuals, for the alarming increase in drug addiction in Britain. He refers to such things as pointless "supply-side interventions" and what he calls a draconian legal policy, as though it were these vaguely defined impersonal factors that are responsible for the crisis.

Most people are as ill-equipped as I am to argue the toss. But we may have enough sense to work out that there can't be anything too draconian about a legal system if there are men selling cocaine quite openly on street corners in our major towns and cities.

But this is the tendency now with all discussions about society's ills: when things go wrong we blame systemic or institutional failure rather than any human shortcomings. Even when fraud has been committed, as in the recent TV quiz show scams, the company may be held to account and possibly fined. Seldom is an executive punished or even named.

So if hard drugs are widely and cheaply available in Britain, it is perhaps possible that it is individuals rather than the system who have failed us. And they might even include people like Mr Critchley.

What a load of old rubbish

One of my few remaining pleasures in life is to make a bonfire out of old newspapers and watch all the headlines of yesterday, all those colour supplements and inserts, go up in smoke.

It's not only a pleasing spectacle but also a helpful reminder of the transitory nature of journalism. Here today, reduced to ashes tomorrow. All journalists need to be reminded of how little attention the world pays to the stuff we write.

But with global warming in mind, is a big bonfire of the vanities justifiable? I sometimes wonder about this, but now a more serious objection has been made. What I have always presumed to be the case turns out to be a proven fact – namely that rubbish, including old newspapers, is now a valuable commodity. Local councils have discovered that they can make a small fortune from selling things such as recyclable plastic, thus proving the truth of the old saying that where there's muck there's brass.

The scandal is that, at the same time, these councils are threatening householders with all kinds of new regulations about rubbish disposal or even charging for its removal.

It is pointed out that local councils could do very well from selling half of the stuff they collect. But we ought to ask why should councils make money out of our rubbish so that they can pay out bigger bonuses to their executives.

If my old newspapers are as valuable as they say, why shouldn't the profit come to me? I am open to offers. But if they don't materialise then I am quite happy to carry on burning.

* Was Sir James Goldsmith the father of Princess Diana? I was familiar with the rumour but recently what we journalists call a normally reliable source told me that it was a distinct possibility. Goldsmith had certainly been intimate with Mrs Shand Kydd and the dates all fitted. So why not?

Last week for the first time Goldsmith's daughter Jemima, who bears a distinct likeness to her friend Diana, published for the first time some thoughts about her father, the late financier.

But we learned little that was new. Much of the article was taken up with the story of her grandfather, who had been a victim of anti-German feeling during the First World War. But to Goldsmith anoraks like myself it was all familiar stuff.

Jemima would like to think that her father, like her grandfather, was a victim – possibly of anti-Semitism. But it is a hard charge to make stick. Goldsmith was unpopular for the simple reason that he was not a very nice person.

When he died, The Guardian, perhaps rashly, invited me to write his obituary. I thought it only fair to the deceased that I should try to find something good to say about him. But it proved an impossible task.

In deference, however, to Goldsmith I made no mention of his sexual activities which were considerable and varied. Little is now gained from raking over such matters. But if they might have a bearing on the future of the Royal Family, then perhaps there should be a proper inquiry and possibly even DNA testing.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Games Developer - HTML5

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With extensive experience and a...

Recruitment Genius: Personal Tax Senior

£26000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Product Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Due to on-going expansion, this leading provid...

Recruitment Genius: Shift Leaders - Front of House Staff - Full Time and Part Time

£6 - £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a family ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

MH370 debris: A breakthrough, but only when the fuselage is found will the relatives find closure

Simon Calder
 

Racism in Britain: Labour's leadership candidates explain how they’d tackle racial inequality

Independent Voices
Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Atwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works
Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation' over plans to overhaul reverse-chronological timeline

Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation'

Facebook exasperates its users by deciding which posts they can and can’t see. So why has Twitter announced plans to do the same?
Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag - but what else could the fashion house call it?

Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag

The star was shocked by a Peta investigation into the exotic skins trade
10 best waterproof mascaras

Whatever the weather: 10 best waterproof mascaras

We found lash-enhancing beauties that won’t budge no matter what you throw at them
Diego Costa biography: Chelsea striker's route to the top - from those who shared his journey

Diego Costa: I go to war. You come with me...

Chelsea's rampaging striker had to fight his way from a poor city in Brazil to life at the top of the Premier League. A new book speaks to those who shared his journey
Ashes 2015: England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

The biggest problem facing them in Birmingham was the recovery of the zeitgeist that drained so quickly under the weight of Australian runs at Lord's, says Kevin Garside
Women's Open 2015: Charley Hull - 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

Charley Hull: 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

British teen keeps her feet on ground ahead of Women's Open
Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'