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123 thoughts on “Brief Thoughts on Afghanistan Opium

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  • Clark


    how I wish my consciousness were “perfectly aligned”; to what would one align it in this modern chaos?

    The medicalisation of ‘mental disorders’ and the ‘preemptive’ administration of prescription drugs is clearly beneficial to the pharmaceutical companies. The benefit or detriment to patients will not be provable for decades. It is revealing that there is pressure on doctors to prescribe in specific ways from ‘managerial’ levels.


    thank you for those figures. When a society is dosing such a large proportion of the population with ‘drugs to tackle depression’, it must be time to ask what is wrong in that society to cause such unhappiness.

  • Redders

    “But I’m a wild-eyed dervish, so what do I know?”…………..In a kilt as well!!!!! 🙂

    I feel quite bitter about having been used as a political pawn during the Miners strike. We didn’t realise it until sometime after but we were given a massive pay rise before it all and then more overtime than we could cope with during it. Having said that we didn’t have anything like the level of violence the Yorkshire miners did, a lot of the lads I was Policing were my mates. The flying pickets were the problem, they turned up one day and really tried to stir up trouble but were told where to go… our miners!

    Our Police forces are a shadow of what they were but hopefully this Government will release them from the PC, red tape, paperwork nightmare they are in now and allow them to do their job. The Police are, like any organisation, far from perfect but even Special Branch do much, much more good than they do harm.

    Unfortunately we have been subject to the Politicisation of the Police over nulabours term in office, stop and search is a joke, the PC, kid gloves required to approach a black or asian youth is appalling, crime has gone haywire, penalties for offences are derisory because of the “I’m a victim not a criminal” culture which, unbelievably, led to more people being imprisoned; until the quite incredible policies of instructing magistrates and judges not to lock people up because of lack of space and, equally insane, early release.

    You would imagine that someone like, say, Gordon Brown, the God fearing, Law abiding individual that he is would have twigged that, “we can’t lock them up and we have to let them go, gosh, we must be doing something wrong!” but no, he preferred prison ships, how unbelievably inhuman, and this was a political party purporting to represent ‘the working man’.

    Sorry…….rant over.

    Hijacked Craig’s thread again I’m afraid.

  • Redders


    I agree, we should be looking at the causes of the conditions but we also need to look at the treatments ‘not’ available like counselling which would solve many depressives problems. Drugs are perceived as the cheap alternative and although we can’t do without them, there are alternatives.

    We have, in the UK, the most unbelievably large force of volunteer workers which could be put to good use in so many ways but is completely ignored as valueless by all our governments. Our religious communities, regardless of their faith could be mobilised to help many of these people. Given access to training they would be, I’m certain, only too pleased to help. They are usually capable organisers with lots of community contacts and lots of property which is invariable under utilised.

    Spin off’s from all this are almost endless and positive. I would however add one proviso, everything needs to be unconditional, in other words there is no compulsion to join a Church, Mosque, Synagogue or whatever which would alienate a Muslim from going to their local Church or Synagogue for help.

  • steve


    Thanks for your post I am an ordinary policeman that had a life before joining a rear commodity in the police. Most are fresh faced kids that havnt lived yet joining a job where you have to have lived to understand that you dont get black and white in the real world but shades of grey. To most policemen you are either a policeman which mostly in their cynical minds equals good. Or members of the public which equals bad or hasnt been caught yet. Police tend to marry each other drink with each other party with each other in an incestuous loop. Blocking out or tolerating non “job” people. We see the law as The Law that is always RIGHT. And if you have been arrested then you must have done something. Its time we stopped acting like judge dread turning up at “domestic incidents” couple shouting at each other or god forbid slapped each other! And arresting everybody because we have to. We need to be allowed to use our discretion and have time to help people. Refer them to counselling or housing agencies in a meaningful and caring way not to tick a box. The police Senior Managent are all by definition career coppers who know nothing of life. Left school went to Uni possibly smoked a joint then joined the Job and life finished. We should be allowed to prioritise the calls ourselves and get out of the police cars and re engage with the public. But god forbid I mention that at work or I will be told dont be stupid its dangerous out there the public might attack us! The police forget the public are walking around alone mostly un molested and not attacked on the streets. I feel we have got to the stage where the only option is to have a two or three tier police force as we are getting but in a typicaly British way where everything is a compromise. The police we have at the moment should be tucked away in barracks or parked up in vans out of sight. Probably armed permanently. Not allowed out unless it all goes wrong. Leaving PCSO’s and enlightened police officers to patrol the Streets talking to people helping people. Becoming part of the community again as what was intended with Safer Neighbourhood policing. Which fell apart when targets and best practise was brought in aswell as putting unsuitable officers in the job. When this has been completed and the tiers have stabilized. It may be possible to get some trust in the police and justice system again. You cant have a swiss army knife univefrsal policeman anymore. Its broken you cant expect these kids to be all things to all people.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Thanks, Redders, as always that’s very illuminating and also captivating. If you are a ‘hijacker’, then to varying extents so are we all, and in any case, with your posts the destination of the vehicle is conducive to the overall journey (it’s a journey, man!).

    Btw, I don’t have a kilt, unfortunately, but I do have a couple of woollen tartan ties – not bow-ties, I hasten to add – which I sport on cold days in winter. Whether one can whirl efficiently in a tartan tie and the architectonics of the resultant cosmic movement is likely to be the subject of much debate among aeronautical engineers.


  • Suhayl Saadi

    Steve, those are fantastic and deeply humane insights from the coal-face as it were, thanks so much. One doesn’t tend to hear this kind of account in the MSM or in the other media, perhaps because the ‘black and white’ mentality appeals too easily to many people in the public also and because it’s not ‘dramatic’, but of course the crucial thing is it’s real.

    On a lighter note, a lot of police seem to marry nurses, I find. I’ve often wondered whether it might be those long, nocturnal hours stopping people killing one another in A and E Depts, or maybe it’s just the uniforms… (!)

  • steve


    Probably just the uniforms and the nocturnal hours.

    Where I am unfortunately we dont get on well with the local hospitals I guess they see the same shit we do and despair.

  • Anonymous

    Steve, I much appreciate your comments coming from the sharp end as it were.

    However, I remember a discussion I had with a junior doctor regarding smoking.

    He rightly pointed out the chronic cases of emphycema, cancer and other chronic disease that he came across on a daily basis.

    I pointed out to him as I will to you that you are both conditioned by your contact with the extremes, not the typical.

    I understand that your job is to uphold the law but I believe that an adult libertarian considered approach to vice in this country is long overdue.

  • Clark


    I note some similarities between your comment and Suhayl’s. Police officers and doctors, it seems, are being pressured by higher authority rather than being encouraged to exercise their judgement.

    This is precisely what I was referring to when I wrote of people stuck in a “pointless system in which they have little self determination”. I think the problem is quite general. Craig wrote about it on reference to health, education and ‘consultants’.


    yes, there is not nearly enough councelling available. Stick everyone on pills and forget about them seems to be the order of the day. One councellor I know is very upset about the current approach. She says it is all ‘target orientated’ (reminicent of Suhayl’s ‘flowcharts’) and that attention should go to the quality of the relationship between counceller and client. A social worker friend has told me of managerial interference that wrecked an entire department by demotivating the real workers, while these two managers hid in their upstairs office doing – what, exactly? Psychologists are incensed that their judgement is to be subordinated to a set of ‘Best Practices’.

    ‘Management Culture’ has to go.

  • Redders


    A good post, could only have come from a Copper with insight gained from another working environment.

    I joined at 19 and became almost what you describe in terms of socialising etc. and Suhayl, guess who I married!!!

    I also quit for some of those reasons as well but mainly because of the Chiefs having said that, we had much more autonomy then than you guys do now and I just couldn’t spend 5 minutes in the job any longer.

    My social life is now completely different and the only ex Coppers I keep in touch with are my 3 mates I have known since Primary school, we all joined at the same time but they went on to retirement. Not so sure they should have.

    My belief after 9 or 10 years in the job was that no one under 21 should be recruited and they should have held down a meaningful job since leaving school. Accelerated promotion schemes need to be abandoned, I met more bad coppers as a consequence of those schemes than any other, unfortunately most of them were promoted, predictably.

    If you take a trip to my blog there are two really good articles I found recently, posted under ‘Flat Earth News’ in the Blogroll, and all of you guys will love the video I have posted from Aus.

  • Redders


    LOL……..I re read your comments on meeting Nurses. My wife worked in Glasgow Royal A&E department, I was rarely out of there as I worked in Easterhouse for a number of years but we never met, that was meant for a bar in Park Circus. That fickle finger of fate 🙂

  • Abe Rene

    Steve, you’ve written some good stuff here. Maybe you should write a book – if you wrote a novel, you could put your experiences in without naming names.

  • ScouseBilly

    As one who grew up with Dixon of Dock Green, in spite of its cosy naivety, it mirrored the perception and respect that the average person had for the police in those days. Needless to say the fictional hero had almost complete autonomy displaying common sense and worldly wise judgement. Ok he was a PR role model portraying the bobby on the beat as a respected member of the community, but isn’t that an ideal that could be aimed for?

    Redders, I’m sure you could write a manifesto on how to restore the credibility of, and public confidence in, the police.

    I can’t help wondering if Tony Blair’s ideas for police and community were borne more out of The Professionals and The Sweeney.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Wow, Redders, when I wrote that post, that was exactly what I was thinking of, that precise A and E Dept, which is often a very ‘hairy’ place to be, I understand. I also still work sometimes in Easterhouse.

    Small world, eh. Oz sounds much better!

    Clark, yes, you’re right, the imposition of management culture across everything was and is a big step in the slippery descent of humankind’s ability to cogitate. This is the true ‘invasion of the bodysnatchers’!

  • Abe Rene

    Redders, from your own blog: “I am an opinionated sod who who is uncompromising enough to believe there is a simple solution to every problem; it may prove painful at first but it will be worthwhile in the end.” I would have thought that destroying poppy fields with fire or germs would be right up your street, it would have that tang, that je ne sais quoi, that pizzaz (from a burned pizza, specifically), that hint of smoke from samosas microwaved for 10 minutes..”

  • Abe Rene

    PS. On microwaving samosas for 10 minutes – don’t. You have been warned.

  • ScouseBilly

    Abe Rene at June 15, 2010 5:05 PM

    That’s a fanciful, if remarkably delusional, conclusion to reach.

  • Abe Rene


    The delusion may be rather with those who don’t think that youngsters don’t need all the protection from dangerous substances that society can give them. As far as I am concerned, that includes destroying the supplies, in other words the poppy fields of Asia and South America. If the Americans who can do something about it read this stuff and think ‘Let’s get the ever-compliant Brits to turn over the Porton Down secret manual “How to destroy poppy fields by Bigger Better Bug No. 2” and tells their Air Force “We’ve got a little job for you”, I say “Go for it!” The bugs ought to be adequately tested before use, of course. Wouldn’t want to kill off the Amazon forest and hence the rest of us for lack of oxygen, that goes without saying.

  • Roderick Russell

    There is no doubt about it that the misuse of legal substances can also become a problem. As Clark says “I also remember the meths drinkers in Whitechapel”. Now these people know that drinking meths is going to make them sick, yet their addiction is so strong that they persist in it.

    Take my good friend Rufus, for example. He knows that his addiction makes him sick, and yet he still persists in it. He hasn’t graduated to Opium as yet, or even meths. His real problem is garbage. He can never get enough of it. And yet so strong is his addiction that there is no end to the misdemeanors that this popular reprobate get’s up to ?” Steaks off neighbors barbeques, pots off countertops and cookers, pizza’s out off storerooms. Yet despite these misdemeanors, Rufus is every bodies favorite addict in the community where he lives. Perhaps his addiction is due to an early disappointment. Bread to be an avalanche specialist in the Canadian Rockies, he was surplus to requirements. Half Alsatian, Half Belgium Sheep dog he has had to settle for being a private pet in Calgary

  • Abe Rene

    Correcting typo. The text should read:

    The delusion may be rather with those who don’t think that youngsters need all the protection from dangerous substances that society can give them.

    You can tell that the writer of the blunder that occasioned this message wasn’t destined to be a high flyer (and indeed I’m not).

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Aw, Abe, dinnae put yersel doon, mon, ye are a cosmic ray! We aw mak typos, mon, it’s happened since the dawn ae time. E’en Goad A’michty made a couple.

  • Clark

    Abe Rene,

    I was going to look up numbers of opiate related deaths in under 16s to reply to you, and accidentally confirmed my own theories. All the headlines were shouting ‘mephedrone’ at me, a drug that was only prohibited recently. If you eradicate one drug another is developed or discovered to take its place. This was the motivation behind ‘designer drugs’; because they were new they weren’t illegal. This ongoing process is driven by prohibition.

    The argument I was gathering data for is this. We never give youngsters “all the protection from [danger] that society can give them”, and it wouldn’t be right to try. For instance, thousands of under-16s are killed or injured annually by traffic. In 2008 there was only one under-15 drug related death (St George’s University of London annual report). (1) Protection effort must be applied so as to reduce harm the most; drugs should not be proiritised unduly, (2) Consider the case of giving youngsters “all the protection [from traffic] that society can give them”. Where does that lead?

    But also I’d like to turn your argument around. A far off country discovers that each year some of their children are damaged by alcohol sourced from hops in the UK; one or two even die. So they genetically engineer and deploy a virus and wipe out UK hop production. Would you consider that reasonable?

    Yes, typo’s happen, worry not!

  • Abe Rene


    I’m not sure that opiate-related deaths are the right figurs to look at, because what happens at school is more likely that youngsters start experimenting with drugs. Thus the most damage occurs later. So we need to look at opiate deaths in those who began as teenagers.

    Actually I wonder why George W. Bush didn’t try to destroy the poppy fields. There’s an interesting question.

  • Abe Rene

    Correction: that should be “I’m not sure that opiate-related deaths *in the under 16s* are the right figurs to look at”. I’d better cal it a day and do something more relaxing, even sleep. Good Night everyone.

  • Redders

    @Abe Rene

    Isn’t ‘legalising’ drugs a simpler solution than destroying crops with pesticides which will inevitably come with its own human cost? Agent Orange anybody?

    Legalising will come with a cost, much of it bureaucratic but isn’t that preferable to generating more wars over land and sovereignty; wouldn’t creating jobs and developing communities be easier and simpler than bombing or spraying them with nasty chemicals?

    The whole situation is a win win, many people are able to seek help with their addictions, many more don’t contract awful diseases they inevitably die of, many more don’t get on it in the first place because they don’t come under the influence of a dealer who does the hard sell on them, prostitution will likely be reduced as the cycle required to maintain their habit will be broken, street violence and gang culture will gradually dwindle without the big money in drugs etc.

    We can’t avoid drugs in whatever form they come, opiates, tobacco, alcohol, even tea and coffee, the best we can do is manage their distribution and use which is what our governments are clearly failing to do. The problem is, the problem’s growing.

  • Redders

    @Abe Rene, clark

    Do your figures detail what the circumstances surrounding the death was? Was this a first time user, was it a badly cut deal? was he/she murdered because of drugs as that is classed as a drugs related death.

    Simply looking at the figures is a pointless exercise, it’s frequently why bad political decisions are reached affecting all our lives. Examining the figures on road deaths without looking at the causes has led to some unbelievably stupid decisions on road safety mostly directed at drivers when it’s invariably schoolkids reckless behaviour outside schools that’s the problem. But drivers are easier to target because they posess a licence which can be taken away from them. What do you do with stupid, ill disciplined schoolkids? There is nothing to take from them which will stop them jumping out in front of cars, or indeed, being pushed by their best mate as a joke.

    Figures are fine but they have to be used in context and rarely can they be used reliably in a human context without understanding the contributing circumstances.

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