Meanwhile, in an Alternate universe, far far away
From "High Society"
by Ben Elton
A speech proposing the legalization
of drugs made at The Hyatt Regency,
Birmingham by the Right Honourable Peter Paget.
Home Secretary: “Her Majesty's Minister
for Drugs .. His wife and their two lovely daughters. A British
Family! A Labour Party family. A family who have together faced
the worst that our ruptured and fragmented society can throw at
them and yet have remained a shining example to us all. Together
they embody all that we believe in when we employ that much misunderstood
and misapplied term "family values". It takes a man
armed strong in honesty to pursue the course that Peter has taken,
from being a lone voice in the wilderness to being the leader
of a national crusade. Peter Paget IS armed strong in honesty!
His stake in the drugs war is his family, his beautiful daughters,
his lovely wife! And there can be no higher stake than that.
Friends, comrades, representatives from the worlds of business
and the media. I give you the Right Honourable Peter Page, MP,
Minister for Drugs!”
Peter Paget: "Comrades. The Home Secretary
mentioned my family. He mentioned the fact that like many of you
here today I have teenage children. Two girls. But right now I
should like to tell you the stories of three very different girls,
three of the many stories I've encountered since first I began
my campaign. Picture young Jessie, a teenage runaway, gone to
London because of abuse at home in Scotland. I met her at a drop-in
centre at Kings Cross. A bright girl, beautiful, articulate and
addicted to heroin. Addicted because the evil predator who took
her in gave it to this innocent and vulnerable seventeen-year-old
prior to pressing her into a life of prostitution. What a brilliant
plan! Foolproof! Sanctioned by Parliament, no less! Jessie has
no choice but to co-operate with her abuser, for he is her only
source of heroin. She has no choice but to walk the streets because
it is the only way she can hope to earn enough to pay the exorbitant
prices that this illegal substance commands. For Jessie it is
a case of either whore or steal. And for a small, frail, pretty
teenager it is obvious where she is going to end up. In the backs
of strangers' cars, ladies and gentlemen. Yes. Many times a night.
Courtesy of Her Majesty's Government! The law is her pimp. Make
no mistake. We here today are directly responsible for her plight.
For we make the laws that create her abuser! (Applause)
Recently, burdened somewhat from my accident with the addict's
needle, I returned to the King's Cross drop-in centre. I was determined
to see young Jessie again. I had some idea of explaining to her
that we were now both victims of the drugs war and that perhaps
we might draw strength from each other's plight. I hoped that
somehow or other I could provide a catalyst for her to seek help
or perhaps return to Scotland and face her problems at 'home'.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am here to tell you that Jessie had disappeared.
The people at the centre had not seen her for some time and nor
had any of the other habitués to the centre who knew her.
Where is she now? Nobody knows. She's gone. Lost. Either dead
or out there somewhere in the cruel night existing at the mercy
of the underworld.
Let me tell you about another girl. Sonia, a young woman from
this very city of Birmingham. I know where she is. Oh yes, so
do all of you who read the papers. She is currently rotting in
a Thai jail. Eighteen years old, her life effectively over, and
why? Because she was stupid? Yes, of course. Because she was criminal?
That I don't agree with. Sonia did a wicked and foolish thing,
she agreed to smuggle drugs in exchange for a thousand pounds
and a week in Bangkok. But Sonia was also bored. She was naturally
adventurous; she was also extremely young and impressionable.
She lived in a culture where she and all her friends took drugs
every weekend, where the law was and remains entirely in disrepute
. a joke, something to be ignored. She fell in with rich and cunning
men, men grown fat on the profits of our stupid laws. They flattered
her, gave her drugs, seduced her into their service. Promised
her one thousand pounds from an operation that they knew would
net them many tens of thousands! I should like to remind you here
today that whilst we know where Sonia is, we don't know where
the men who entrapped her are. They, as always, have escaped.
They, and all their comrades in crime. We rarely see them, we
never catch them, their power grows daily. They are invisible
while the results of their wickedness - Jessie, Sonia - are all
too visible! I have written personally to the King of Thailand
and have hopes of obtaining mercy for Sonia, but she is only one,
and her like will never be truly free until we remove the laws
that promote their abuse.
Let me now mention the story of Natalie, a girl from Salford,
another heroin addict. I don't know her - she's just one of many
thousands of similar addicts who live outside the law. Her story
was brought to the attention of the world simply because her boyfriend
Jason, who robbed and burgled every single day to feed their mutual
addictions, happened to steal from the home of a celebrity's aunt.
He was caught trying to pawn the celebrity's Brit Awards and when
he led the police to the hovel he shared
with Natalie, it was discovered that these two addicts had a baby,
Ricky . a baby who was dying of neglect and whom the police arrived
too late to save. The social services had been aware of this child
and had attempted to help Jason and Natalie with him, but as the
parents' lives drifted further and further into direct conflict
with authority they disappeared from view, taking their baby with
them. Just another story. Just another statistic. Without the
tenuous connection with celebrity, their story
would never have been heard. On the subject of celebrity, I'd
like to bring your attention to the life of one other young woman.
Emily Hilton-Smith - you've heard of her - she was a wild child,
an "it" girl.
She's here today, having come at my invitation. Emily wrote to
me in support of my campaign. She explained that although she
no longer took drugs and hoped never to do so again, she had been
in their thrall for ten years. Ten years, ladies and gentlemen,
and large quantities. Jessie, the King's Cross heroin addict I
was telling you about, told me that she had her first hit of the
drug only months before we met. Sonia took E's only at weekends.
I don't know how long Natalie was addicted, but I doubt it
was as long as ten years. And yet while Jessie, Sonia and Natalie's
lives are ruined, Emily sits here with us today, a picture of
glowing health and beauty! And why is that, ladies and gentlemen?
It's because she could afford her drugs, and when she needed help
she was a part of a society that was able to give it to her. She
was protected by her family and friends. While her addiction was
certainly supplied by criminals, she didn't need to steal or whore
to pay for it. She was able to avoid sinking into the
squalor that engulfed Jessie and Natalie. Ladies and gentlemen,
I abhor the effects of many drugs and wish sincerely that people
were not tempted to take them, but I say to you here tonight that
in the vast majority of cases it is NOT DRUGS that kill people!
Look at Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, Emily-Hanson-Smith . It
is the law that kills people, because the law turns addicts into
How pathetic is our society, ladies and gentlemen! How utterly
debased our culture! How petty our priorities and our resolve
when year after year we allow the streets to be flooded by the
likes of Jessie, the prisons filled with Sonias and the hospitals
and cemeteries filled with baby Rickys. And yet we have not the
courage or the intelligence to pull the rug from beneath the feet
of the entire rotten network that creates these tragedies!
This party has never been afraid to take tough decisions and
we have never taken a tougher one than that which we are joined
here together to endorse. Tough, but also easy - easy in that
we have no choice! Just as the in the past right-thinking men
and women had no choice but to proceed towards
universal suffrage, universal literacy, universal health care
and universal welfare benefit, today we have no choice but to
move towards universal sanity and face down the demon of worldwide
organized crime! We must have the courage to acknowledge that
which is self-evident! We can deny it no
longer. You don't like it, I don't like it. As a father or teenage
girls I would rather it was any other way. But the fact is that
the only option that offers even the remotest chance of success
in the battle against drugs is to bring them under government
control. Our control. Let us take these dangerous substances out
of the hands of the criminals and place them firmly in the hands
of the Home Office and the Exchequer! Let us be the first but
certainly not the last nation to legalize drugs! Not to decriminalize
a few, or even all - that way leads to further madness, a confused,
half-baked policy which the criminals will exploit - but to legalize
all of them and legalize them now!"
That which had been unthinkable merely months before had now become
government policy and would, considering the size of the government's
majority, not to mention the sympathetic ears on the opposition
benches, shortly become law.
Peter: "If ever there was a wrong-headed,
half-arsed, bound-to-fail, pointless bit of bad law-making it's
this drugs imitative. Decriminalizing pot is never going to work,
it just makes the police look like headless chickens and gives
the gangsters more room to manoeuvre. The whole bloody borough
of Hackney is collapsing under the strain of the drug culture,
a drug culture the law has created!"
Peter and Angela Paget had that evening decided that Peter's
Private Member's Bill would propose that Parliament immediately
legalize all recreational drugs use. Not just decriminalizing
pot, not just downgrading E. But legalizing everything. Cocaine.
Heroin. Even crack. The lot.
Angela: "You do realize they'll crucify
you, don't you?"
Peter: I know. But by then I'll have made the
point that crack is just too dangerous to be left in the hands
of criminals. Nobody likes the fact that some people choose to
smoke such horrifying poisons, but they do nonetheless, and we
have to bring it under proper control. Licence it, make it available
only through a doctor, tax it and put all the profits into rehabilitation.
We have to do something other than bury our heads in the sand
until the whole country goes to hell in a basket!
Alternative Speech from High Society, Ben Elton
By Peter Paget at the House of Commons, Westminster
"No, Madam Speaker, I will not withdraw! Nor will I apologize
The terrible, terrible tragedy reported in this morning's papers
is entirely irrelevant to the issues that I have come today to
put before the house. Except in this one point. It has been established
that the poor older sister Michelle, whose drugs were taken by
the younger sibling and friend, waited twenty minutes before calling
for an ambulance. Were those twenty minutes crucial? They might
have been, I don't know but I can certainly imagine why the girl
hesitated. She hesitated because she was terrified. She knew that
calling an ambulance must inevitably mean her arrest and her disgrace.
So this seventeen-year-old girl, faced with the appalling circumstances
that her little brother and his friend were dying because of her,
panicked, Madam Speaker. She panicked and in order to avoid the
consequences of what had happened she attempted to remedy the
situation herself, with tragic results. I suggest to you, madam,
that had this
girl's pills been legal she would have called for help twenty
minutes sooner than she did. What's more, the pills would most
probably not have been hidden away; they'd have been on display
but out of reach, in much the way that alcohol is arranged in
And in answer to my Right Honourable colleague's question, no,
I do not consider drug use a trivial thing. I can assure you that
I have better things to do than waste this house's time with trivia.
But I feel bound to add that nor do I think it a trivial thing
that the vast majority of police time in my constituency is consumed
in either pursuing drug users or dealing with the consequences
of drug use - theft, prostitution and gun law! It is a matter
of simple fact that a vast proportion of the young people in this
country take drugs. That does not make them all drug addicts,
but it does make them all criminals! Yes, Madam Speaker, criminals!
Along with the numerous prosperous law-abiding people who smoked
marijuana at university and still take it occasionally at dinner
parties! Class B? Class C? Class X, Y and Z! It doesn't matter;
they are still all outside the law! As are the young professionals
who snort cocaine as a weekend treat. And prominent celebrities,
pop stars such as Tommy Hanson. There are over six hundred and
fifty members of this house, all adults, mostly born in the fifties
and the sixties, educated in the seventies, the eighties and the
nineties, educated at British universities which, like the rest
of the country, are awash with drugs. It is absurd to pretend
that none of us here today has experienced illegal drugs, impossible
to imagine that there is no member of this ancient body who might
not still indulge in such a thing.
I am perfectly happy to inform this house under parliamentary
privilege that as a student I occasionally smoked a marijuana
cigarette, or joint. I no longer indulge in the habit, but I most
certainly did at one time and I have many friends who continue
to do so and who do so on occasion at my house! I would however
be loath to make such a confession outside of this house, for
I should not wish to inconvenience the police by putting them
to the trouble of interviewing me, which would certainly be their
duty under the current law. Although, as we all know, the police
have scarcely the energy or the resources to carry out such a
duty. No, madam, I am not trying to be funny. You will know when
I am trying to be funny by the simple fact that people will be
I am attempting to point out that, under British law, pretty
much the entire population of this country has been criminalized.
We are all either criminals ourselves or associates of criminals
or relatives of criminals. Can we not admit it? Are we not mature
enough society to face the clear and obvious truth? We must admit
it. Our future way of life depends on it. For this vast nation
of - how shall I put it - social criminals is linked arterially
to a corrosive, cancerous core of real criminals. Murderers. Pimps.
Gangsters. Gunmen. Lethally unscrupulous backroom chemists! We
are all connected to these people because there is no legal way
for an otherwise law-abiding population to get high, which it
clearly intent upon doing. The law is effectively the number one
sponsor of organized crime.
You may try to shout me down, but I will be heard and I will
tell you this. An officer in my constituency was killed in a Yardie
gang shooting last week. I attended his funeral. I watched as
the dead man's coffin, bearing the union flag, passed by his weeping
family. That same flag, Madam Speaker, flies above this house!
And above every government building. It is the symbol of our law.
And yet it was this law this killed the brave officer I saw buried
last week. No, madam, I am not trying to score cheap
points! If you think that I would invoke the memory of a recently
dead hero merely in order to decorate my argument, then I am afraid
that it is I who must protest to you. I am stating the simple
facts that an officer in my constituency was shot dead while pursuing
a criminal whose income is derived solely from supplying cocaine
to otherwise entirely law-abiding people. If those people were
able to get their cocaine at the off license, properly licensed,
taxed and restricted to adults, then the man who killed
that officer would have to find some other means of making a living
and there would be one less police widow. And it is not only the
police who walk in fear in our increasingly violent society...
we all do! In some communities people county each day a lucky
one if their homes are not broken into that their persons not
assaulted by depraved junkies desperate to finance their terrible
craving. We all know that the vast majority of muggings and burglaries
are drug-fuelled . why should we have to suffer for other people's
addictions? Let me ask you this, let me put the unashamedly selfish
argument for legalization; would you honestly care if the number
of addicts in this country doubled, even trebled, if it meant
that your home was no longer in danger of being broken into and
your children were free from the fear of being mugged for their
pocket money and mobile phones?
As a matter of fact, I'm not at all convinced that the number
of addicts would rise dramatically anyway. Experiments in Holland
suggest that they would not, but I put it to you again, even they
did would you really care as long as they were properly housed,
properly looked after and above all, not stealing your VCR?
I am not alone in my thinking, Madam Speaker. I can see that
there are Honourable Members here today sitting on al sides of
the house who see things as I do, although they're scared to admit
it. And I believe passionately that it is the LAW that is killing
officers in the drugs war! For the law refuses to acknowledge
the patently obvious fact that the drugs was is lost! Yes, it
is LOST, Madam Speaker! Will this house persist for ever in its
self-deception? Sufficient people take drugs to make life in
this country and indeed the entire world an ever worsening misery.
But ONLY, Madam Speaker, ONLY because they must buy them from
criminals! WE HAVE LOST THE WAR! We are currently living under
the yoke of a victorious army of occupation! An army of drug barons,
traffickers, murderers, petty thieves, prostitutes, muggers, corrupted
officials and all the low lifes of a criminal economy, a vast
world trade existing outside all law. Can we not, who sit in this
house, this house which is the mother of all parliaments, the
proud cradle of democracy in the modern world, can we not once
more give that world a lead? Have the courage to do the unthinkable?
To do that which would in a single instant pull the rug from beneath
ninety percent of the criminals on this planet?
Can we not move to legalize, legalise mind, not decriminalize,
Interview on Parkinson, BBC TV Centre
Parkinson: In the past few weeks my next guest
has leapt from relative backbench obscurity to being recognized
as one of the foremost politicians of this time. He is a man who
has almost single-handedly shaken the nation out of its apathy
about what is perhaps the greatest issue that faces our society
today. The issue is drugs. The man is, of course, the Right Honourable
Peter Paget, MP. (Thunderous applause) So, Peter, welcome to the
show. You can hear that everybody's pleased to see you. But never
was a welcome more deserved, because you've had the courage to
tackle one of society's great taboos, and you've got us all thinking
you really have.
Peter Paget: I've only been speaking my mind,
Michael. It's a privilege to be able to do so.
Parkinson: And you've paid a high price for
that privilege. I'm referring of course to your terrifying accident.
Has it changed your thinking at all? It must have done.
Peter Paget: Yes Michael, in so much as it has
strengthened my absolute conviction that the drugs war is lost
and that the only way to create a drugs peace is to give a lead
to every civilized nation in the world and legalize drugs.
Parkinson: That's all drugs? No exceptions?
Crack, cocaine, "Ice"?
Peter Paget: All drugs, Michael. Half-measures,
decriminalization of dope, etcetera, will merely make matters
Parkinson: You oppose partial decriminalization?
Peter Paget: Of course. The criminal community
sees weakness and exploits it. They go to areas where the police
are taking a so-called "softly softly" approach and
use the resulting shop window to peddle harder drugs. The net
result is that the whole idea of legalization is fatally undermined,
and then reactionary voices in the press say, "You see? We
make pot easier to obtain and immediately more heroin is sold."
Its all or nothing. Half measures are what my daughters are fond
of calling a
"no-brainer" They're totally useless, WORSE than useless.
Of COURSE criminals will use areas of policy waffle and confusion
to increase their grip on a defenceless community. And it's the
most addictive drugs from which criminals profit most. The people
who take them HAVE to have more
and at present they're obliged to shop from murderers and gangsters!
And pay gangsters' prices! Which means the drug-takers become
criminals and terrorise the wider community to feed their habit.
I've said it before and I'll say it again; if you require a selfish
argument for legalization look at the crime rates in your area!
Drug addicts steal, that's a fact; they rob you and me to get
high, Michael. When will we wake up? We're handing society over
to the mob - in fact we've ALREADY handed it over. Its almost