Mitt Romney: underdog or overdog

October 19, 2007

Notwithstanding his poll leads in Iowa and New Hampshire (and depending on whose polling you read, Michigan, Nevada and, slightly improbably at this point, South Carolina), former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is frequently an afterword in any British commentary on the 2008 US presidential elections. Partly, perhaps, this is because everyone assumes that a Democrat (in fact, a Democrat named Hillary Clinton) will win. Partly, also, it may be because Romney, unlike Clinton, Edwards, Giuliani, McCain (and even Obama), has never been a national (let alone international) figure.

The conventional wisdom (at least this side of the Atlantic) states that Romney won’t win because he appears so polished and scripted that he must be a phony. And then, whisper it, there’s his religion – the elephant in the corner that no-one (including, arguably, Romney himself) has yet dared to address.

But what isn’t talked about is the fact that Romney is probably the most intelligent and accomplished man or woman in the field. This article, possibly the best ‘from the trail’ piece I’ve seen so far, expresses clearly how this is impacting on the campaign, particularly in New Hampshire.


Drug (mis)treatment

October 18, 2007

New drugs story: the BBC are congratulating themselves for having discovered that heroin and cocaine addicts on the government’s treatment programme are being given methadone and antidepressants as a “reward” for clean urine samples (listen to Mark Easton being smug about it on the Today Programme).

This is very clever, except for the fact that it’s absolute rubbish. The National Treatment Agency report that Easton found this information in was a report on the management of users addicted to both heroin and crack cocaine. This makes for a totally different story.

Crack is a much nastier drug to be addicted to than heroin, and crack addicts rarely stay in treatment. It is also much harder to treat, because there isn’t any methadone-like substitute. If someone is using both crack and heroin, and you can retain them in treatment by giving them methadone, then you stand a chance of being able to stabilise what Drugscope call “other aspects of their chaotic lifestyle”. In other words, you can get them off the streets and stop them screwing themselves up.

Mark Easton has a generally good record on this sort of thing, I’m told. So what he’s doing with this I’m not entirely sure…

The true face of drug crime

October 17, 2007

Here is an article by on drugs and crime by Matthew Taylor, Chief Executive of the RSA and former Blair strategist, in today’s Guardian.

Noteworthy not only for its exposure of the fallacy that drugs and crime are irrevocably and directly linked (ref. any government document 1997-2007), but because it was written by me.

The two or three people who obviously know what they’re talking about have left interesting, supportive comments. Otherwise; well, it is Comment is Free…