From High Society by Ben Elton

Meanwhile, in an Alternate universe, far far away


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 criminals.

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.

 


 
ADDENDUM:

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 most homes.

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 laughing.

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 is
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, gangsters, pushers,
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, ALL DRUGS?

 


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 worse.

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 too late.

 

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