[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Sunday, 11 February 2007, 13:52 GMT
MPs back Cameron's drug stance
Conservative leader David Cameron has refused to confirm claims that he was disciplined for smoking cannabis as a schoolboy.

He says he is entitled to a past that is private - a view that appears to be shared by other leading politicians.

HOME SECRETARY JOHN REID

Police found a tiny quantity of cannabis in a guest room at Mr Reid's home in April 2006. Mr Reid, who was defence secretary at the time, said he had no idea where it came from and the police said he was not suspected of any offence. He said:

Do we want to get to the level of ensuring that every politician who is elected or bids for leadership or takes part in national politics is a sort of plastic politician produced off some colourless and characterless conveyor belt?

I don't think that would serve politics well.

There are two different issues here: The first is drugs, and I think it's wrong, and the second is do we really care if David Cameron some years ago was involved in doing something wrong?

I think the public will probably say 'so what, let's move on and find out what he stands for'.

FORMER CONSERVATIVE CHAIRMAN LORD TEBBIT

My advice to him now would be, 'Get it out of the way, get it over with and it will be a seven-day wonder. If you don't, people will keep turning up with another expose'.

SHADOW FOREIGN SECRETARY WILLIAM HAGUE

I am enormously impressed with him and this makes no difference to my view of him or, I think, the view of most people in the country.

He has always been very clear that your life before you went into politics is a private life and it should be possible to have that as a private life and he has always been absolutely consistent about that.

We all did things that we regret and it is one of those things, I suppose.

SHADOW CHANCELLOR GEORGE OSBORNE

What they want to know is: what's David Cameron got to say about health, education, law and order, and so on - and does he have a better vision of the country than Gordon Brown.

So I suspect those are going to be the issues at the election, not what he did 25 years ago.

CONSERVATIVE RURAL AFFAIRS SPOKESMAN PETER AINSWORTH

It is something that happened to a schoolboy 25 years ago. So I don't think that... I think that most people looking at this, and being fair-mind people, will think: yes - you know, it's not something that I would be proud if I'd done or my son had done but there it is - a long time ago, and people make mistakes.

SHADOW LEADER OF THE COMMONS THERESA MAY

What people will be interested in is what we, as a party, would do in government on the drugs issue.

We have been absolutely clear on that, we would reclassify cannabis from Class C to Class B and would put more into drug rehabilitation.

I think politicians are entitled to a private past. I think that's right.

Most of us go into politics because we become interested in becoming politicians.

We are not spending our whole youth thinking well, I might be a Member of Parliament therefore I'm going to be extremely careful about what I'm doing in particular areas.

CONSERVATIVE POLICY REVIEW CHAIRMAN OLIVER LETWIN

We will see what the public reaction is, but my guess is that most people will say to themselves: 'This is true about the past, but we are not terribly concerned about it'.

It's perfectly legitimate for the press to talk and investigate about things they want to - it's a free country - but I don't think that most voters are going to concentrate on that issue.

Are people allowed to grow up? I hope they are. Are people allowed to try to learn how to behave and how to live in the way they choose? I hope they are. I think we all are.

We all have our origins, but we are also the people we are, and David is somebody who actually has some sense, I think, of where Britain's at and what kind of country we are living in, and perhaps even more important a sense of the kind of country we want to live in.



SEE ALSO
Cameron hint on cannabis medicine
21 Jan 07 |  UK Politics
Q&A: Cannabis and health
19 Jan 06 |  Health
Cameron attacked on drugs stance
04 Nov 05 |  UK Politics
Cameron pressed on drugs question
14 Oct 05 |  UK Politics

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific