"Perhaps Shambo and the monks and nuns at Skanda Vale have shone a bright light into an area of great darkness."
That was part of one of the splendid messages I received today. It is too soon to find a path out of the bewildering events of the past few months. The monks and nuns will know that their steadfastness has profoundly moved millions of people. In their future calvaries, they know they can call on large numbers of people who share their their reverence for all forms of life.
For sixteen years the community have lived quietly in Llanpumsaint fulfilling their duties without seeking attention. Now their gentle, benign presence is widely recognised. Perhaps the best way that we. their new friends, can prove our solidarity is to support their work in practical ways. None better that helping to continue the work of their hospice. Its services are available without any charges.
MPs are strange and wonderful people. Today I had new evidence of our peculiar ways.
For the past twenty years, I have had the great thrill of sharing my life with a mixed community of idealists, saints, sinners, eccentrics, criminals and megalomaniacs. New Welsh MPs flocked together in 1987 in one office. The polymath Rhodri Morgan rippled with energy and ideas. Fresh wild notions Catherine-wheeled off his well-furnished encyclopaedic mind.
The eternal bachelor Paul Murphy led an elevated existence, slightly remote from the Hurley Burley of parliamentary drudgery. His desk shone unsullied with papers. His mornings were passed in his dressing gown listening to Beethoven in his elegant Chiswick flat. He impatiently awaited the call to ministerial office.
Alun Michael was driven by a work obsession. Hugely productive, his day began at dawn with a marathon run and continued with ferocious industry until the early hours of the morning. In our first parliament, we were frequently condemned to linger in our office throughout the night for late votes. MPs will not tolerate this now. While the rest of us were half sleeping longing for the deliverance of a division bell, Alun would be cheerfully working. He had a group of friends who had also adopted a nocturnal life style. To our astonishment, he would ring them in the early hours. One was the late John Reynolds Leader of the Cardiff City Council.
Yesterday, I had an angry carefully written nine paragraph, 500 word e-mail from Alun on higher education.
It was e-mailed at 3.16 a.m.
A gift from God
Here we go again with a new panic on cannabis.
The press have got it wrong again. The facts remain the same. Cannabis is a product of nature. To believers it's a gift from God to be used for good or evil. it has remarkable therapeutic properties with relatively few side-effects. It has been used as a medicine on all five continents for 5,000 years.
In the past 100 years it has been used as a recreational drug. In the UK users increased from thousands in 1971 to millions now. Those with a predisposition to mental health problems should not use it, because it is known to exacerbate hallucinogenic symptoms. No causal link has ever been discovered between the use of the drugs and schizophrenia. There has been no increase in the incidence of schizophrenia in the past 35 years of greatly increased cannabis use.
The reclassification of cannabis from B to C REDUCED cannabis use from 10% to 8%. Possibly because it removed part of the attraction of forbidden fruit. There is no appetite from the police, courts and prisons service to again use the criminal justice system to punish people for a 'victimless' crime.
Please Gordon, forget the myth than changing categories reduces drug harm. It does not. Peer pressure and changing fashion alter use. To put cannabis back into Class B would achieve nothing except provide an excuse for not thinking and be self-gratifying for dim politicians.