The following is an excerpt of an article by Richard Thomas. This features in our fifth print issue, available from the 15th September.
Find out how to get your own copy of the issue here.
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It has always been my understanding that traditional conservatism should have two major roles in society: firstly, it should be there to protect the most vulnerable from harm and moral breakdown; and secondly to protect the bonds that bind the generations together – particularly those that keep us free and safe. Since the rise of Thatcherism and neoliberalism, these elements of traditional conservatism have all been just about lost, with very few prominent Tories, such as Jacob Rees-Mogg (often touted as an eccentric extremist) having a somewhat cult following in the Party.
Despite this, the recent election of Boris Johnson has given many of the traditionalists renewed hope that he and his new cabinet may start a revival of sorts. But any hint of a revival of social conservatism hangs over the Tory Party like a bad smell. Despite a good start over the issues of Brexit and crime, many have been concerned over Mr. Johnson’s apparent Cameronesque social liberalism.
Immediately, concerns were raised about his desire for an amnesty for illegal immigrants. Then, there was a heartfelt discussion about the legalisation of cannabis after Mr. Johnson appointed two
special advisors to his top team who are known supporters of legalising the drug.
Since the legalisation of cannabis for medicinal use, there can be no question that legislation is on its way. But I often wonder why there is this strange obsession within the Tory Party over the legalisation of this drug. There seems to be a convulsion of anti-prohibition, allied with a confusion that this is somehow getting in the way of ‘freedom’.
Despite this, cannabis has been correlated with mental health issues over many years and is now beginning to be correlated with criminal violence. At a time when this is at epidemic proportions, a
pursuit of this policy would be deeply irresponsible.
The Conservative Party was once the party of law and order, free markets but with a deep moral conscience. Now, once again, it is preparing to compromise with itself in the face of ultra-neo-libertarians, who know the price of everything and the cost of nothing.
But why? The libertarians in the party argue that cannabis consumption is about freedom – freedom to choose, freedom to poison your own mind, freedom to get as high as you want – and it is the
cornerstone of why some Tories believe standing in the way of this is authoritarian.
This is of course ludicrous. Firstly, there can be no comparison between the great freedoms granted to us which have kept us free and safe for centuries, those of speech, assembly and movement. In any case, why is it a freedom to do great harm to yourself? Considering now that cannabis use is correlated with severe problems with mental health, the freedom to damage your body is simply a selfish act. Everyone has a responsibility to their loved ones and society – you have a duty to your family and your country to be as fit and healthy as possible so that you are productive.
Whilst I can accept that people will make mistakes in their lives and there should be a safety net, indulging in illegal pleasure drugs and expecting others to pick up the pieces is immoral.
Why would conservatives want a society which is high and passive?
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Read the rest of this article in the print issue, information on which can be found HERE.
Photo by GoToVan on Flickr.