An excellent piece as ever by Matthew Norman on the inability of any UK government to peep over the parapet of its paranoia to take note of a change of approach in other countries regarding cannabis, a naturally occurring plant that has been in use around the world for untold centuries – even in parts of Trump’s US, for heaven’s sake.
Humans (and some animals) have always had a propensity for ingesting mind altering substances – gosh, maybe they just like the effect.
With news of yet more tragic and untimely deaths from unregulated artificial drugs and chemical substitutes, like backstreet MDMA and the erstwhile “legal highs”, where is the problem with the one that has probably never directly killed anyone, and why is this debate still grinding on?
We can’t expect any change in policy from this government, which will no doubt continue to dismiss any voice of reason stating the bleeding obvious, even from their own appointed experts.
An example is the case of David Nutt’s dismissal from his post as government adviser in 2009, apparently for “crossing the line between science and policy” in the words of Alan Johnson, then home secretary; surely not a direct invitation to massage factual findings to match the party line?
I love Matthew’s point that Britain is the world’s largest exporter of medical cannabis, whilst officially refusing to believe it does any good; is the obverse of this the profitable sale of advanced weapons to some unsavoury regimes, while officially refusing to believe they’ll do any harm?
Oh the sweet smoky puff of hypocrisy, weed or cordite flavoured depending.
Why is our money treated as so dispensable?
To hear that the government has just lost the country £2bn by selling some of its stake in the Royal Bank of Scotland makes me sick.
Like the £1bn given to the Northern Irish government to secure the DUP’s support for the Conservatives, our politicians seem only too happy to be profligate with the nation’s money for political reasons.
They are happy to give everyone’s hard earned cash away without regard to the individuals who have to pay for it, just so that the rich get richer and those same politicians can retain their hold on power.
It surely is high time that small and medium-sized businesses, as well as the poor and middle earners, who fund the lifestyles of the richest through providing the bulk of our taxes, should call our politicians to account and we should be governed for the common good of all, not the benefit of the few.
There are so many pressing needs; the NHS, care of the elderly, a just welfare system for everyone, infrastructure, climate change – and we are snowed under with many other problems outside of the Brexit issue.
High time to think again and build a just future for the next generations?
Despite new technology, we are less connected than ever
As nearly every month a new and even more spectacular mobile phone is announced on the market, aren’t we getting less connected and more alone?
When you’re sitting in a coffee shop watching the world go by – aren’t you walking with them? The world seems to have been taken over by machines. Perhaps we should try to be more in tune with each other.
The coffee shop is like a community centre where people meet their friends or make new acquaintances. You can spend 10 minutes over a cup of coffee or an hour over lunch. We are more and more missing this interaction because of the computer revolution.
Now we can contact each other in a matter of seconds, to the other side of the planet, so cheaply and in so many different ways. There’s the mobile phone which almost everyone has, with which we can access our bank accounts, apart from many other things.
The internet in general, and social media in particular, have had a big impact on society. But as we reach a person or thing so rapidly, are we not leaving something of ourselves behind?
We have become addicted to these devices, and tend to become alone, not wanting to get out of the house. More and more people have become isolated, not contacting their families and friends, who are not that far away.
The internet can solve some practical problems, the results of which are becoming more and more mind boggling, such as whole documents being sent or deleted by the press of a button, driverless cars coming to the fore and being able to pay for a bus fare with a watch. But I think that we have gone too far, whereby now you can ask a gadget a question and it will give you an answer in an instant.
Haven’t we become less human – some might say like zombies? We are saving so much time with these computers, that we’re spending less time with ourselves and those around us.
Robert D Dangoor
Michael Gove would make an awful prime minister
If I was the hedge fund manager Crispin Odey, I would be hoping my clients had not read your entertaining article in The Independent.
According to Odey, Michael Gove is the only suitable government minister that campaigned for Brexit at the referendum who is still a minister. He clearly believes this confers some great badge of ability upon him, without considering the reality that he is being hugged close by the PM, just as are Boris Johnson, Liam Fox and David Davis.
Odey goes on to say that Gove has many attributes that make him a non-traditional Tory.
Some unkind people might suggest that today’s Tory government is full of non-traditional Tories, since their economic dogma has taken them so far away from supporting law and order and defence of the realm.
They are also collecting increasing opposition from the business community due to their legitimate concerns for the very negative likely impact of even a “successful” Brexit, regardless of whether May or Gove is the PM.
Just what happened to traditional Toryism? At least you knew who they supported, and what their values were.
Building safety measures
Towers have a remarkable fire-safety record if windows are separated by a yard of inorganic material, or by a balcony. This barrier delays fire spread and gives time to fight the fire. This barrier almost ensures that nobody can die in a fire unless they are in the flat where it starts. This foolproof prescription was law in London until 1984, but not since then.
Pressure from the industry resulted in a change to guidance after April 2007 to permit materials of limited combustibility. Hundreds of towers were then covered with materials that were designed to meet this standard, despite having significant organic content.
As any organic material will burn in a hot enough fire, this change fatally undermined the “stay put” policy and a disaster like Grenfell became possible. A government review has taken a year to conclude the guidance is safe, so this recipe for disaster is still in force.
Steve Murray, architect
Lee Ridley’s T-shirt slogans
I’m delighted that Lee Ridley won Britain’s Got Talent. However, I’m not at all sure about the slogans on the T-shirts he wore.
Today with many genuinely disabled people suffering far more abuse than ever before, I really don’t think “I’m only in it for the parking” and ”I was disabled before it was popular” helps with addressing that very serious issue.
Sadly, with the mentality of many, slogans like these are very likely to elicit more abuse for disabled people like himself.
Response to your article on UNAids sexual assault claims
We, the undersigned women from the UNAids secretariat, write in response to your article of 31 May 2018, “Government urged to consider stopping funding for ‘boys club’ UN agency hit by sexual assault claims”, which quotes a UNAids staff member as having said that the organisation had allowed a “sexist culture where women are more window dressing than actually recognised for their performance”.
We categorically reject this portrayal as it does not represent our experience of working at UNAids. To suggest that we are “window dressing” diminishes and discredits us as professionals and our many years of dedicated service.
We strongly believe that no one person can speak to our individual experiences or our values – especially without our collaboration and consent. We represent a diversity of culture, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, HIV status and expertise. We are united by our commitment to the Aids response, women’s empowerment and the right to live free from violence and harassment.
We support and stand by all people who have experienced sexual harassment. We are active and committed participants in the process of change at UNAids to ensure an inclusive environment with zero tolerance for all forms of harassment.
We stand in solidarity with the Aids response – one of the most remarkable responses to an epidemic in modern history. We are proud to work for UNAids and the people we serve through our work, bringing hope, dignity and health to millions around the world.
Signed by Andrea Vidarte and 147 others
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