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It drives you Nutts (politicians, not cannabis)

Matthew Reeves on why there's no need to work hard - just become a politician
Student life
Off campus

It just so happens that I'm really not that fussed about which drug is number one in the charts right now. I don't care if cannabis is wrongly classified when compared to cigarettes and alcohol. I'm not going to chop up my Threshers loyalty card and start earning points with my dealer instead. But the recent sacking of the government's chief drugs advisor Professor David Nutt has left me somewhat dazed and confused.

Newspaper articles were all very similar. Most carried the headline "Nutt Sacked" (which sounds distinctly like a prep school prank or dining club initiation). They all mentioned the controversial recommendations made by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) which Professor Nutt chaired. In May 2008 they opposed the decision of the last home secretary Jacqui Smith to move cannabis from class C to B.

It seems to me something of greater importance has been missed: the alternatives. Imagine, for a moment, that you are home secretary. If you were given tested and peer reviewed evidence proving that the current UK justice policy in relation to drugs was misinformed, what would you do? The obvious option would be to sponsor more research. What if all this research shows that alcohol is far more damaging than cannabis? You could do something radical like actually change your policy.

Or you could dismiss the results because you don't like them. Who is this David Nutt guy anyway? A neuropsychopharmacologist? What does he know? So he was educated at Cambridge, teaches at Oxford and set up a whole department in Bristol. He clearly knows nothing. Alan Johnson on the other hand left school at 15 and became a postman. This is where I start to find the world a bit confusing.

You can work hard all of your life and excel in your field. You can make scientific breakthroughs and conduct groundbreaking research. You've just got to convince the postman. If you want to succeed in business or become a leading medical scientist, you're going to need a degree. Probably two. It's going to take years of hard work. If, on the other hand you wish to become the home secretary you will need to prove your incompetence at a local level, make a few idle promises on issues that nobody really cares about and get voted in.

It seems startlingly easy to become a politician, so as you weigh up your options for graduate employment, why not consider the easy option. Why not give the learning a rest and just get high on power?


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