LONDON, U.K.—A drug bust can ruin your whole day, so it’s best to have a get-out-of-jail-free card ready. In the United States being white will usually make the police take a charitable view, but in the United Kingdom the best strategy is to say that you are planning to go into politics. (Although being white helps there too.)
These observations are prompted by the recent scandal in the United Kingdom, where by June 8, seven of the 10 candidates for the leadership of the Conservative Party had been outed as former users of illegal drugs. This includes all three leading candidates for the job, Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, and Jeremy Hunt, one of whom will therefore almost certainly become prime minister next month.
Andrea Leadsom, Dominic Raab, and Matt Hancock all said that they had smoked cannabis at university, but had never done ‘hard’ drugs. Photographs courtesy of Wikimedia
The revelations were prompted by a just-published biography of Michael Gove, currently environment secretary, which revealed that he had used cocaine repeatedly 20 years ago, when he was still a journalist. Indeed, on at least one occasion in 1999 he hosted a party at his Mayfair apartment in London where the guests were openly using cocaine.
Now he says that “It was a mistake. Now I look back and think ‘I wish I hadn’t done that’.” Although mentioning it quite recently to his media coaches in what he thought was a private training session was his real mistake.
But he deserves to suffer. On the day after that party in 1999, Gove wrote a column in The Times’ in which he condemned ‘middle-class professionals’ and ‘London’s liberal consensus’ for treating recreational drug use as a harmless peccadillo. In the trade, that’s known as working both sides of the street.
So Michael Gove wins the Hypocrisy Cup, but it was a highly competitive event. Photograph courtesy of Wikimedia
So Michael Gove wins the Hypocrisy Cup, but it was a highly competitive event. Boris Johnson, tipped to win the Brexit succession struggle after Theresa May’s resignation, hasn’t said anything about drugs recently, but journalists swiftly dug up a 2005 television appearance in which he said quite a lot.