You must love this Government....
So, they realised that to give themselves some sort of credibility, when dealing with matters of which the politicians know close to nothing (which is to say, 99% of reality) they need "scientific advisors."
The approach would also be rather agreeable: politicians decide on general policy approach, based on the real or perceived mandate they have received from voters, supposedly on the basis of their election manifesto(*), and scientists provide expert advice to support those decisions and, ideally avoid bad ones.
Sadly, Labour does not quite like scientific advice (and reality, in general) when it conflicts with their grand ideals and principles.
Take drugs, for example.
I have never taken drugs, so I will admit I am not best placed to judge, and I have never smoked either: I do drink, but only moderately, so can't really say I'm well place to judge on the relative merits or ills of any of those endeavours: however, I've seen plenty of my friends smoking pot in the good old days of college, and not one of them came even close to what you routinely see outside pubs and bars at weekends.
And, I do remember what my dad's healt looked like before he quit smoking (more than 30 years ago: today a springly 70-year-old, he's easier to find on a tennis court thrashing youngsters, than reclining and wheezing on a chair...).
So, on the basis of very limited observations, I would say that cannabis and other similarly 'light' drugs are not worse, and possibly better, than "booze and fags," the daily diet of our working classes.
Still, I would rather abstain from making judgments, and would turn to the "experts" to see which is worse, possibly on the based on "double-blind" studies, mass epidemiological and clinical data and whatever else the scientific community can come up with.
Here's how it works in Brown's La-la-land: drugs are Evil, booze is not so good, but still Ok (he's a Scot, after all...) and fags, lest we forget, bring a neat dollop of cash to the Treasury these days.... so:
- ask for Scientific Advice;
- receive Scientific Advice - decide you don't quite like it (reality intrudes on your good story);
- decide that phony, unreliable Scientific Advice (cannabis produces depression and schizophrenia) is more to your liking (I'd argue that, if one does make use of cannabis, he's got already some "issues" to deal with; so, at best, the sample is biased and research is tainted, but let's not start splitting hair);
- reject the Scientific Advice you don't like (but that you did ask for in the first place) and instead publish a policy that punches common sense right on the nose (cannabis is now as dangerous as heroin) to the obvious dismay of all those (very few, I'd say) who still do value common sense (but to the obvious delight of drug traffickers, who see their profits leap up all of a sudden);
- when the Scientific Advisor (who turns out to be a good guy, and nowhere near as bent and ready to be your puppet as you'd have reasonably expected him to be) dares to vent his frustration at this "rape of common sense", sack him: who needs scientists, when we have our morals and religion to guide us?
(*) the fact that Election Manifestos are not worth even the (glossy) paper they're written onto has finally been made plain by Labour: who can forget that two pillars of Labour's election pledge where (a) a Referendum on the Lisbon Treaty and (b) not to raise taxes.
There you go...