"Conservative activists have voted overwhelmingly against a motion claiming that alcohol does more harm than drugs."Do they mean qualitatively? Because quantitatively this simply isn't true. The General Registar estimates that there were 336 drug-related deaths in Scotland in 2005 and falling, whereas for alcohol there were 2,052 (2004) and rising.
This would seem to suggest that on this bare statistic alone, alcohol is roughly three times more harmful than drugs. I'm not advocating some hippy shit about drugs not being harmful; it's just that more people consume alcohol.
Or perhaps the 'Conservative activists' have the wider problem of the criminal activity that is associated with the illegal drugs trade in mind. The rate of alcohol-consumption means that the drinks and hospitalities industry is Scotland's largest employer, whereas the illegal drugs trade tends to employ, well, gangsters. As Jim Doherty, who runs the Gallowgate Family Support Group in Glasgow's East End, told the conference:
"[D]rug dealers were controlling Glasgow."I have to say it's news to me that anyone is controlling Glasgow and if this is true, I'd have to say they're not doing a very good job.
And if it's true, this is a function of the product's illegality - rather than any intrinsic chemical properties of the narcotics they are selling.
But I don't think the Tories are really interested in any of this; we have instead an example of the culture war going on in the Conservative party at the moment. Amusing for opponents of the Tories, perhaps - but I don't think Labour at the moment would even allow themselves to even consider these ideas.
Speaking of realities that tend to impinge on cultural stereotypes, reading Chris Dillow's piece on manufacturing reminded me of another employment fact concerning the Scottish economy: did you know that the Indian food industry employs more people in Scotland than steel, coal and shipbuilding put together? It's related to our high rate of alcohol-consumption for reasons that should be obvious.