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  • Sara Chitseko

Tory leadership candidates: Drug use and discipline

A string of Tory Leadership hopefuls including Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, Rory Stewart, Andrea Leadsom, Dominic Raab, Jeremy Hunt, Matt Hancock and Esther McVey, have recently admitted to having taken illegal drugs. The admissions of these Tory policy makers provides another striking example of how institutional racism and classism affords the rich and powerful the privilege of owning their drug use without consequence, while the most marginalised are persecuted, criminalised and incarcerated by the very policies that these MPs have created.

This is a sheer indictment of a broken system which legitimises the deeply entrenched hypocrisy of policy makers which has contributed to a two-tier system of justice. Research by The Institute of Race Relations has shown that Black and Minority Ethnic communities are more likely to be disproportionately targeted by the police, more likely to be imprisoned and more likely to be imprisoned for longer than those that identify as white British (IRR, 2019). 

These politicians continue to enforce prohibitionist drug agendas which have not only failed, but have further entrenched inequality, where the most disadvantaged people in society are more likely to be on the harsh receiving end of convictions. It is time that we recognise how our criminal justice system not only serves to protect the elite, but how the drug habits of the rich directly perpetuates cycles of trauma, violence and harm through over-policing, the violence connected to the illicit drug market and the impact of addiction in our communities.


IRR (2019). Criminal justice system statistics | Institute of Race Relations. [online] Available at: http://www.irr.org.uk/research/statistics/criminal-justice/ [Accessed 11 Jun. 2019].