|Tory leadership contender David Cameron has refused to say whether he took drugs as an undergraduate, dismissing questions by saying he had "a normal university experience". |
He said there were lots of things he had done at university, adding that he was "enough of a human" to have done them but "too much of a politician" to discuss them.
But perhaps the most important question is: does it matter to you that a potential party leader took drugs in his youth?
can't imagine anything of less importance than David Cameron's student activities. I'm only interested in his present capabilities. Michael Skipsey, Bournemouth
Of course it doesn't matter what he did at University. The great thing about a degree course is it allows one to indulge in indiscreet ways and then describe the whole period as: "I was at university". David Michell, Newmarket
Leave the poor bloke alone. It matters neither whether he did or didn't. Modern conservatism should be about freedom and the need to bear responsiblity for our actions. We need to get away from the nanny state telling us how to live our lives. Cameron seems like a normal decent bloke who provides well for his wife and children. The issue should be how well he does what he does, not whether he drinks, has taken drugs or is teetotal.
Dale Parker, Christchurch
I have no interest in whether or not David Cameron experimented with drugs while at university but do feel that while he dodges this issue it will haunt his leadership campaign. As a former Conservative voter, I was sufficiently impressed with his speech at the Conservative Party Conference last week to believe that he could be the first credible leader of the Tory Party since Margaret Thatcher. What he did prior to becoming involved in politics is largely irrelevant today. What I do care about is how he proceeds hereafter!
Caren Clarke, Salisbury
So what if David Cameron took drugs at university? It matters whether he takes them now. I didn't take drugs at university, then I didn't do much work either. Cameron did; that makes him a better student and no doubt makes him a better leader.
Bernard Lawson, London
Dear Anonymous, I was born after 1940 and never tried drugs. You say I am a narrow minded twit. Have we met?
My belief is that if you were born after 1940 and have never tried drugs, you are exactly the type of narrow-minded twit that should not be allowed to represent society at large. Cameron is okay on this issue.
The problem isn't that he may have smoked pot - it's that he's "too much of a politician" to talk about it. If his idea of a politician is somebody who doesn't talk about things that might, possibly, be controversial, then he's the ideal person to lead the Conservative Party to extinction (and if the party chooses somebody like that, extinction's where it'll deserve to be).
Brian Childs, Paris
David Cameron should come out and say he used cannabis, if he did. Who cares? I’d be more suspicious of somebody who didn’t try pot in the sixties. Look at Bill Clinton who tried to be politically correct and justify his actions, people still laugh at him for ‘not inhaling’. I worry more about the intelligence of anybody that still smokes cigarettes than one who had a few spliffs in their younger days.
Alan Gamble, Bermuda
I don't see why this should be relevant to his political campaign. After all, didn't most people try the odd thing or two at university? And didn't most of us grow out of it? A certain amount of experimentation with drugs, alcohol, tobacco, sex, etc. are a normal part of growing up. He should just smile and say 'Yes, didn't everybody?'
The issue of Cameron and whether or not he used drugs as a student is more to do with journalistic egos and the search for a scoop than public interest. We have to decide whether we want our politicians to be perfect robots, or normal human beings with normal lives before they got involved in politics. We all do things when young that we later regret or would not do when older, it is part of growing up.
Barry Williams, Dover
Certainly 30 years ago it was part of the normal university experience to try cannabis. It would have been mildly eccentric not to have done (I never really trusted either Blair or Clinton, my near contemporaries). After all, if Cameron did smoke cannabis, it's not as though he'd done anything really wrong, merely something that the establishment of the day frowned upon. Now, if I were to learn he regularly parks his car illegally, thus leaving insufficient room for me to park...
Peter Hulse, Chew Magna, nr Bristol
It is irrelevant what a student does at university. I am looking for a leader who understands the present and how to adapt to the future. If a Conservative Government adopts a new drugs policy under a leader such as David Cameron - and he had taken drugs when young - at least it would be an informed policy and not one dreamt up by some spin doctors and Alistair Campbell... how refreshing. Good luck to a new younger Conservative Party under Cameron.
Clive Stocker, Cobham, Surrey
Perhaps he drank alcohol and had the occasional one night stand. I certainly hope so. Like experimenting with drugs, these are normal things for a young person to do. We need normal human beings to become politicians. We also need the media to be more focused on stuff that matters rather than such trivia.
Jim Watts, Gloucestershire
This story is typical of some aspects of the media, more interested in digging for so-called dirt instead of facing up to the dire straits this country is in. What David Cameron did at university is immaterial as is that of other contenders. What matters is the character of the person now and what hope their policies would provide for those disenchanted millions who either did not vote for the Labour Party or who did but have come to regret it.
David Smith, Carlisle
No, and frankly, I do not care. He was a student. You grow up. I would only be concerned if he still consumed (hard) drugs now. The odd spliff is less harmful then the amount of alcohol many people consume. I have never tried any drugs and do not drink, but that is a personal choice. I may live in Amsterdam but grew up in Argentina, a much more conservative society than either Britain or the Netherlands (and the Dutch can be quite conservative, whatever the perception from abroad).
In my view this issue summarises the mood change of the electorate; few people actually care whether Cameron has taken cannabis - he obviously has - but most people can understand why he does not need to admit it. It is highly likely that many of those agonising over this issue are utterly hypocritical in their own standards of behaviour. Cameron does not need to admit it because he senses that it is working in his favour rather than those who think they are scoring points by not letting the issue drop. None of this mean to say that we don't expect our politicians once in office to behave as well as and if not better than those they are elected to govern.
Charles Notsram, London
It matters not one whit whether or not Cameron experimented with drugs in his youth and I think he is right to refuse to answer the question directly . The only circumstance in which it would be relevant to his fitness to lead the Conservative party, would be if he had had a serious drug abuse problem leading to crime or health issues. Many people want to know whether Cameron has the capacity to save the Conservatives from a fourth election defeat and be an effective prime minister and they are not going to find that out if newshounds pester Cameron as to whether or not he took drugs at university or elsewhere.
There is only one way of approaching this. Cameron should get it out in the open now and pre-empt any smear campaign which is surely bound to follow as soon as the left get an idea of the huge threat Cameron is to the current Labour regime. One only had to watch Andrew Marr's programme on Sunday morning to see that this issue would hang over him to the detriment of anything else he has to say unless it is dealt with now.
Malcolm Walker, Edinburgh
I cannot understand why the most important question to be answered is whether a person tried drugs when at university. I care more about what a person has done with their life and their views today than something that they may or may not have done in their youth. If I go for a job interview it would not be the sort of question I would expect to have to answer. It is a no win situation because as he has said he does not wish to discuss the subject, it is assumed that he did. I am sure that we have all done things in our youth that we would not do today or wish people to know that we did, so let us give the politicians a break and ask the questions that really do matter in this day and age.
Joyce Osborn, Harrow
I think it would do no harm in the long run if Cameron came out and told the truth. For sure the press will jump on it in the short term but I believe it is far more important for the Conservative party to foster an image of honesty than of political correctness. It is not unusual for young people to try things out when they are at university. It doesn’t make them addicts, it doesn’t necessarily mean they will be ‘soft’ on drugs. A lack of political correctness in their youth would not deter me from voting for someone, but a lack of honesty today would certainly deter me!
A Knott, Brussels
I would rather hear that Cameron tried cannabis and has grown out of it than that he, like Ken Clarke, still smokes tobacco. Trying cannabis at University was for my generation (50+) a rite of passage. Most of the people I knew who tried it never graduated to anything harder and don't smoke cannabis now. The tobacco smokers, by contrast, still puff away despite all the warnings about cancer. Ken Clarke and other tobacco 'pushers' should be ashamed of themselves.
Adrian Gilbert Tonbridge, Kent
I consider myself a reasonably upright member of society. I have no criminal convictions and am regarded as trustworthy and reliable. Yet I enjoyed a "normal university experience" and am better for it, even though I can remember little about some of the more relaxing aspects. We were all young once.