January 7th, 2006

breaking bad

alcohol wrecks another career

I had Sky News on for an hour or so last night, but I wanted to take H down the pub so in the end I missed Iain's interview. You can read his opinions, and an account of the TV process, here.

I agree with Iain that Charles Kennedy has shown good judgement in the past on many issues, not least when he came round to the anti-war position, and he is obviously well liked. It's clearly also true, as Iain says, that a leader who has lost the support of a substantial proportion of his own MPs and Cabinet can not continue, however just or unjust that may be.

I have harsher ideas. I think Kennedy's alcoholism has affected his ability and his judgement lately. Firstly he has missed or fluffed a lot of important public engagements, which reminds me of Vladimir Putin. For instance he didn't attend the last budget debate, which is one of the major events of the political calendar. Secondly - why doesn't he acknowledge what is obvious to everyone, that he can not continue to be leader? That is bad judgement, and its not listening to his advisers. I can't believe there is one person close to him, including his wife, who is not telling him to go. Yet he has not gone yet. He is humiliating himself.

And finally, the radical and aggressive steps that his colleagues are prepared to take, steps which risk damage to the party and their individual careers, convince me that they think things are very bad indeed. A lot of them see him day to day, a lot of them on telly were saying 'I hate doing this but I've got to'. We have to ask ourselves why they are so desperate. What have they seen in private that has been kept off camera?

I think drink is an anaesthetic, and people who are addicted to that anaesthetic coarsen their judgement and hamper their intellect. I think Bush is a malign example, and Kennedy is a tragic example.

The alcoholics I have known have often been intelligent people with lots of potential, all of them were damaged by it. All of them became difficult to be with, selfish, and obsessive. I don't have much experience with ex-alcoholics though, so I don't know how easy it is to turn around.
breaking bad

The Real Thing

The police take down a big cocaine dealer, and the price of cocaine in the UK goes up by 50%. How is that good? It just means all the other cocaine dealers get richer, the poor people who are addicted to it have to do more robbing and whoring to get the money, and the rich people might cut down a little on expensive wine. Who benefits?

The Scotland Yard assistant commissioner Tarique Ghaffur, who heads specialist crime, admitted others would step up to take their places. "We've taken these people out, who will fill the gap?" he said.

Well, duh.

I find cocaine pretty much repellent. I tried it a few times when I was a young woman, it made me feel bitchy and brittle, and I didn't like it. People using cocaine are boring and superficial IMHO. Crack is much worse - foul stuff, and I have literally seen people destroyed by it. I knew a woman who hung out with users, and she ran away, turned up on the doorstep of a friend in a very bad state with a baby in a very bad state. Awful.

I'd say the only solution is a dour government regulated supply for crack, in a program to get people off it, or at worse stabilise them. It's a tragedy which we can only contain and palliate. The real solution is a society which gives people hope and a meaningful life, but I don't see one of those emerging any time soon.

For the powder stuff, I think probably licensed and heavily taxed commercial sales. I don't think this will happen, but it's probably the best solution.