I'm the Hen Ferchetan. This is my take on the world through the eyes of Wales. While mostly about Welsh politics (that most famous of dour topics!) I try to scatter some humour around, but I doubt anyone but me will find it funny! Have a read, and if it bores you then feel free to never come back!

Monday, 14 January 2008

Y Prif Copyn

North Wales Chief Constable Richard Brunstrom has come in for a lot of flack recently following his ecstacy/asprin comments. Since most of that flack has been thrown by the Daily Mail and Rent-a-Quote MP Chris Bryant I wouldn't think it has hurt his feelings too much.

The question of whether ectacy is or isn't safer than asprin is a question for someone else, what intrigues me is the debate on whether or not Y Prif Copyn had any place making a stand.

Dylan Jones-Evans clearly thinks he did not. According to the ex-Assembly Candidate for Aberconwy:

"As far as his job as Chief Constable is concerned, this is not a philosophical issue, no matter how much he likes to make it so. It is a matter of applying the law as it currently stands and, more importantly, not to undermine the laws of the land through such comments, no matter how much he disagrees with current legislation."
His second point deserves far more contemplation than his first. Surely Mr Jones-Evans isn't suggesting that North Wales Police are not applying the Misuse of Drugs Act. There seems to be no evidence whatsoever to show that the coppers up North turn a blind eye to the ecstacy dealers. The question therefore is whether the Chief Constable is "undermining the laws of the land". Dylan Jones-Evans goes on to say:

"How does he think drug dealers will react to such comments? Will they now think, rightly or wrongly, that North Wales is a soft touch on illegal drugs?"
You will note that he doesn't try and answer the question himself, just leaves it hanging there. Of course any politician will tell you that asking such a question without answering pretty much means "I want you to think this is true but I can't prove it". But is it true? Who knows, I'm not a drug dealer myself so who am I to say. What I do know though is that "professional" drug dealers don't give two damns whether an area is a "soft touch" or not. They will sell their drugs wherever there is a market for them. They think that they are above the law and too clever for the cops. Their businesses won't increase or decrease one jot due to Brunstrom's remarks. Saying otherwise is scaremongering, something we're used to from the London gutter press and 2 or 3 specific Labour MP's, but which you'd have hoped the ex-candidate for Aberconwy would be above.
Personally I think the Prif Copyn had every right making his case. If I want to know where the law is faulty, I'd rather a police officer told me than a politician. Just as if I wanted to know the problems within the NHS I'd ask a nurse and if I wanted to know the problems within any company I'd ask the staff. While some of Brunstrom's antics raises an eyebrow (e.g. breaking into his own HQ!) I think he's perfectly placed to suggest amendments to the law.

One other question while we're on the topic of the Prif Copyn. A lot of my old University friends are from the North West and I've had reason to drive there on plenty of occassions. I can't for the life of me think of one fixed speed camera in Gwynedd or Ynys Mon, and I do not know anyone who have been caught speeding there. How the hell did he get his "Traffic Taliban" nickname?

(I'll be back to the topic of the Prif Copyn soon, his antics, and the media's response, deserves a longer look)


Huw Waters said...

I tried posting a comment on David Jones MP's blog regarding the aspirin/ecstasy topic stating figures and hypotheses. Here http://davidjonesclwydwest.blogspot.com/2008/01/gaffe-too-far.html

Anything a politician doesn't agree with, be it wrong or right is moderated and taken care of quietly (removed).

Since Richard Brunstrom has much more charisma and an actual idea of the goings on in the crime world, he is a figure worthy of listening to.

1 or 2 statistics (I know, you them anyway you want to).

Deaths related to alcohol per year in the UK ~ 250,000.

Deaths related to ecstasy per year in the UK ~ 40, of which over half are dehydration.

I'm not excusing class A,B and C drugs at all, however when Brunstrom said "comparatively safer" he did nothing out of place. He didn't say they were safe, or they should be legalised, only compaered figures.

I don't know where Chris Bryant comes into this. He has an opinion on everything whether right or wrong or if people want to hear it or not. He just likes the attention.

Amphetamine(speed) for instance is usually found on the street at a purity of around 5%. The other 95% could be poisonous. You could eliminate this risk by making sure people knew exactly where to get hold of pure amphetamine. The same applies to ecstasty which usually contains imurities. People have gone on to produce their own ecstasy in its pure form called MDMA.

People will take drugs whether it's legal or not, and the fact that people will take ecstasy and don't want the risk has led them to produce their own.

Even though ecstasy is class A at the moment and will remain for some time, it would still be a good idea to place posters of advice in nightclubs telling users to induce a pint of water every hour.

The fact that the state of Texas has the death penalty does not mean murder is unhear of.

Politicians live on some sort of 'theory' and have no idea about the real world.

Hen Ferchetan said...

While I thought best to keep away from the "is it safer" argument (as you said, people can interpret facts whichever way they want) you make a good argument. The purity argument is very important, and the fact that alcohol and cigarretes kills hundreds of thousands more does make the "war on drugs" argument a bit suspect.

The problem is that this is a debate that will not happen, and the reason for that is the media and politicians who know there's papers to sell and votes to win in "being tough".

As a man with no need to court populism Brunstrom is one of the few people in the media glare who can highlight these arguments. The problem of course is that, due to some of his earlier antics, the media and politicians can make it sound like the rantings of a mad fool.

I can tell you where Rent-a-Quote Bryant MP comes into it - he is one of the merry band of Labour MP's (see Ian Lucas) who detest Brunstrom ever since his Cymuned speech and pro-Welsh language policies. Any chance of a pop at the Prif Copyn and they'll take it.

Huw Waters said...

The amount of money made on the black market by the illegal drugs has halped tearaways build up armies. The Taleban come to mind with the poppey plantations in Afghanistan which is used to produce heroin, and the gangs of South America which are above the government and police. Colombia has been in the news recently with some hostages released.

Watch American Gangster and City of God for some representation of this in popular culture.

As for the pro-Wales anti-Welsh Labour people, they fear people such as Richard Brunstrom. Richard Brunstrom is an outsider (originally from somewhere in Yorkshire I think) who has made the effort to integrate, learnt Welsh, supported the local population and projected their concerns and has been accepted in to all local communities and establishments on a national and local scale. Such as Y Gorsedd, being invited to mettings with Cymuned.

People such as Chris Bryant and Don Touhig have nothing like this to their name. They've been bough up in the valleys, and that's it. They have nothing else to their name. You could see the fear they had when Sir Emyr Jones was appointed as the individual to oversee the judgement of further powers to the Assembly. Their answer, not local enough. The man has enormous experience, which they have not, is more in touch with the local population, which they are not, actually got on in life because of him ond not some blanket brand name such as 'Labour' or 'Conservative', of which they have not.

People like Brunstrom and Sir Jones represent change, which they do not like.