Matthew Norman: The stench of rancid hypocrisy

If I had a teenage daughter, I'd almost prefer her to take the odd line than buy frocks from H&M
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The Independent Online

Noel had a question for the dear leader. How, he wondered, had Mr Blair managed to stay up all night to follow the election results. "Probably not by the same means you did," replied a grinning Mr Blair, and how they roared at this indulgently knowing reference to the prodigious taste for cocaine of a man who'd previously declared that he took drugs in much the way other people drink tea.

Eight years on, the silence from Mr Blair - traditionally the purveyor of bespoke soundbites for all occasions - threatens to shatter the eardrum. Does he still regard cocaine abuse by those who inhabit Noel and Kate's Primrose Hill nirvana as a seemly subject for merriment? Or, as the instigator of many a war against drugs - not all of them dreamt up in 30 seconds to divert attention from the latest outbreak of the war against Gordon - does he assume a less avuncular position on the matter?

Given the dodgy ticker (one snort and Gordon might be on the phone to Pickfords), presumably he doesn't take the same sort of lines as Ms Moss. But does he take any line at all on the indescribably curious case of the heroin-junkie-dating supermodel and the Medellin slimming powder? If the PM is bamboozled into unwonted quietude by last week's revelatory earthquake and its still-rumbling aftershock, you cannot blame him for that. When he's taken instruction from his master across the seas, I'm sure he'll be clearer as to his thinking. Until he's spoken to Mr Murdoch, though, he will remain as baffled as I find myself today.

That Kate Moss has used cocaine for a very long time was not merely common knowledge within the fashion-showbiz-media world she inhabits, but pretty much a matter of public record. The fact that the Sunday Mirror recently had to apologise to her for reporting a cocaine-fuelled collapse abroad may have provoked its daily stablemate to seek vengeance. But it hardly disguised the fact that several years ago she had a stint at the Priory. Her agent cited alcohol as the problem then, but drinking vast amounts of booze inevitably produces the sort of facial puffiness and poor skin that Mario Testino can do without when shooting for the cover of Vogue.

When a rehab veteran pushing 30 has a baby and regains her skinniness before the cord has been cut, anyone normal hardly need send a blood sample to the lab to have a fair idea how she's done it. Then again, perhaps senior executives at Chanel, Burberry, H&M and any other firm to ditch Ms Moss since I began this piece are not normal. Maybe they live lives of glorious isolation.

For all I know, they might be Amish folk, running their clothing empires from farms in Pennsylvania where, denied the conveniences of television and broadband, they cleave in blissful ignorance to the purer ways of yore, when cocaine was available for nervy upper-class trouts over the pharmacist's counter, and Queen Victoria took it for her period pains.

Yet even then they must surely have heard whispers about the drug and its ubiquity from neighbours during one of their sporadic bouts of communal barn-building.

The faux-prissy cynicism of these fashion houses, which lavished multi-million contracts on Ms Moss when they could have uncovered the truth of her personal habits, and then piously promised to stand by her until, presumably, the heat from the leader columns and phone-ins singed their effete sensibilities, is repulsive. If I had a teenage daughter, I'd almost prefer her to take the odd line than buy frocks from the likes of H&M.

The hypocrisy of the media, meanwhile, at least has the saving grace of being wryly amusing. Already the "Cocaine found in London Fashion Week Toilets" headlines - a variant on those annual favourites "Cocaine found at Royal Ascot/ House of Lords/ Henley/ etc" are doing the rounds. They always bring a smile to my face, not just because everyone knows that cocaine is found on all banknotes and almost literally everywhere else (dust the Archbishop of Canterbury's personal loo seat, and you'd probably find a trace); but also because I dream of the bold new dawn when a censorious editor goes that Canute-like extra mile to reverse the "rising tide of drugs" by demanding a hair from the head of every member of staff and sends them off for analysis. The results would, I think, be richly informative.

If and when Mr Blair receives the official line from Mr Murdoch, he too might consider opening a new front in the war against drugs closer to home. A glance at the blackmail files of any Chief Whip of the last 50 years would reveal dozens of MPs with drug problems (not one of them ever grassed up to Old Bill), while in the days when Mr Blair was joshing so drolly with Noel Gallagher cocaine use was as rife among the young West Wing-wannabees in Millbank and Number 10 as it is in rock and fashion. If things have changed, it would be good to know it for sure.

While we're at it, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner could, as a gesture, introduce mandatory testing for every one of his serving officers, himself included. You'd have thought Sir Ian Blair might have fancied a spell of quiet reflection after his fiascoid handling of the Stockwell Tube shooting, but this increasingly tiresome media copper is far too addicted to the glib, self-serving headline.

Even by his standards, however, suggesting Ms Moss may be prosecuted hints that the balance of his mind may have been chemically altered. Assuming a prosecution isn't a stonewall impossibility after such a torrent of prejudicial headlines (which it certainly would be), such publicity-grubbing persecution would provide a delicious contrast when the killers of Mr Menezes are (as they certainly will be) spared a trial of their own.

With the Premiership losing its allure and the Ashes over, it's no surprise to find the country turning for vacuum-filling consolation to our alternative national sport: the synthesising of moral outrage, and the feigning of visceral shock, about something every one of us knew all along. Kate Moss, long-shot now for Celebrity Mum of the Year though she is, never anointed herself as guardian of petit bourgeoise morality. It is, as so often in Britain, the rancid double standards of those who sit in judgment upon her that are enough to drive a saint to Class A drugs.