What to do with a problem like the Arab Israeli conflict?

Prompted by my friend Joe’s recent post of an article from The Economist on Facebook and a subsequent comment which was very much sympathetic to the Israeli point of view, I found myself writing this stricture in reply.

I think one of the biggest issues people have particularly with Israel waging war on others, is a feeling that Israel positions itself as a civilised country and is in fact an extremely wealthy advanced nation with evolved legislature (alongside $3B in military gifts each year from the USA) but that it’s conduct in defending it’s  people is not appropriate or proportional, for such a nation.

While it is true Israel is surrounded on land in a way the UK was not (and arguably the rate of attack was also lower) had Britain used the same weight of response to the 50 year campaign of the IRA on mainland England for IRA bombings it would also have been out of proportion. Attacks were a very regular occurrence during my childhood, including multiple assassinations of key public figures in the years before I was born. Proportional response is a key facet in the contradictory and imperfect world of international crisis, one which I believe people struggle to see applied by Israel in the ongoing conflict between Israel and its neighbours.

While my own country, Britain, has its share of blame for it’s bloody Imperial exploits (and other wars) I’m not defending those actions and nor does that mean Israel’s current actions are defensible.

The comparisons other made by some with Syria (run by a dictator) and other similar regimes are a weak analogy, if trying to deflect condemnation on the basis that ‘Many more 1000’s are dying in other conflicts yet not so much scrutiny or interest is levied’. This is also a flawed defence for obvious reasons.

It’s also the case that the inevitable cycle of violence will never be ended while Israeli leaders don’t take the moral high ground, by being the bigger society and swallowing ego, pride, loss and retribution in return for a serious chance at peace. Isolating Hamas internationally and bringing around public opinion globally, would be infinitely easier if that was the path taken, an approach of restraint. From an -I admit- relatively uninformed position (at least compared to those who know the region intimately) surely it must be possible to focus on resolution, which necessarily using Israel’s famed secret service to target and remove Hamas leaders, or those perpetrating and leading terrorist attacks.

The last time there was any really serious momentum behind change by political means, Israel’s own people assassinated Ritzhak Rabin.

The bitter fact is that many leaders in Israel do not seem to want peace, are stuck in a cyclone of home politics, power and their own distorted perspective, one which is clearly unacceptable for a state which claims to be both just (based upon religious teachings which are supposed to abhor violence and forgive) and a victim mentality itself.

Like an abused child by its parents, Israel seems unable to escape the horrific abuses of its own people in the last Century and now wages war on a minority of terrorists while decimating the lives of the majority in the targeted society. You don’t bulldoze houses if you just want to stop rockets.

There are too many in Israel who continue to wage violent war for land, while opposing extremists on the other side continue to use bombs and rockets to terrorise, while both sides hide under their umbrellas of religion. In that regard neither side are any better than each other, or for that matter all the other religious terrorist organisations whose hypocrisy is only eclipsed by their disregard for human life.

I’m not so naive to suggest that there is a simple solution, or even that the majority of the population on either side want continued conflict. But with generations of hatred fuelled by loss on both sides of the conflict, the prognosis for the future is depressing unless the people champion leaders who want change and a different future, who value peace over historical lines on maps. Are there any such leaders on either side?

I believe it is the richest, strongest nation in the conflict, is the only side which can stop the violence, and we all know which side that is. If Israel applied the same level of professionalism, money and will, to ending the conflict as they do to defending their homeland, the war could and would end and a permanent peace could be constructed, however difficult the choices and compromises were, that would inevitably have to be made.

Ultimately, perhaps the people on both sides have more say in this than they choose to think. After-all, leaders have to be followed in order to lead.

Why do we Do?

Recently I posted a link to an article about what might be the world’s next tallest building (as at 2014, anyway). A friend responded to my post asking “Isn’t the question why?”

It’s a fair question but one I have never asked myself. It’s always seemed to me an intrinsic part of the human condition that we should strive to improve and push the boundaries of science, engineering and technology – preferably for good not ill. I have always felt a close affiliation to that need to go beyond what is possible today and create something awesome, even if I’m not gifted with the intellect or skills myself to be the one building those modern marvels.

A poster for the 1958 film adaptation of Jules Vernes book From the Earth to the Moon (French: De la terre à la lune) written in 1865, 101 years before the first men landed on the moon.

A poster for the 1958 film adaptation of Jules Vernes book From the Earth to the Moon (French: De la terre à la lune) written in 1865, 101 years before the first men landed on the moon.

I have been driven to affect change in my own small way, running my technology startups (largely in the consumer and mobile space) and trying to create the next big thing, even if I did after many years fail in my attempt to create a Facebook-esque location based mobile social network back in 2001!

Curiosity and exploration of our own capabilities to create and engineer are crucial to the human spirit. Modern marvels from the first horseless carriage to putting a man in outer space have inspired children to learn, to thrive. It’s closely connected with and fed by, our ability to imagine beyond what we know mankind can achieve today.

At a practical level, technologies often have secondary applications in more down to earth ways.

Finally, personally I believe we should do it because, as unique animals on this planet and in this solar system, we can.

What will you do today to go the extra mile and change the world (even if only in a small way)?

* and I mean that in the correct use of the word, to create something awe inspiring

Does @O2 Hate It’s Customers?

I’ve had another awful few days as a customers of O2. And this experience is not unique to me. 

I am a customer of 15 years at O2 yet they are incapable of providing a consistent quality of service. I wrote a similar post about O2 in February 2008 yet here we are again – and inbetween I could have written many more.

My biggest gripe is that their incompetence costs me money, time and a deep amount of stress. Yet importantly, there is no policy of fair compensation when things go wrong.

Hypocrisy

Companies make mistakes, because people make mistakes. Computers make mistakes because people that program computers make mistakes. This is life. Yet if I make a mistake and don’t pay my bill on time, I am penalised. Credit card companies charge late fees, telecoms companies cut you off.

What happens when a company who has committed to you to provide a service, fails to deliver? The answer sadly is very little, if anything.

oh-nooooooo

Problems, Problems, more Problems

My general complaint about O2 is that most months last year I had to call them to have data charges credited back on to my account (I have a older Blackberry tariff, which includes international data roaming, unlimited. Despite this O2 regularly charges me for data).

Additionally, I spent weeks in the USA last year with no data, where O2 bounced me back to AT&T blaming them, and AT&T blamed O2 saying it was an issue of barring with O2.

O2 when questioned claimed “we cannot guarantee service when roaming” …So what am I paying my £70 a month tariff for exactly then?

And OK, that’s fine. You can’t guarantee it. But since I’m paying for it, are you going to credit me a portion of my bill when I cannot use the service I am paying for? This would be fair. But of course, O2 refuses to.

O2 Promise To Compensate Me

Ultimately, after investing literally hours of conversation and correspondence, I was promised 3 months credit.

O2 Go Back On Their Promise To Compensate Me

The credit never arrived. When I chased up the credit, O2 claimed they had no record of the call. I refused to pay my bill until it was fixed, because last time the promise of a credit was made, it didn’t materialise.

O2 then cut me off.

After a few months of using my iPhone (registered with 3) I missed using my Blackberry (I find the messaging, the physical keyboard and battery life, all far more efficient).

In another exhausting effort to get to the bottom of the problem, I re-engaged O2 to have it sorted out. O2 then claimed “we have no records of calls after 6 months” Is this true? I suspect it’s a lie. I am confident if ordered by a court to reveal conversations prior to 6 months, OR if they wanted to use evidence of a call to their benefit, O2 would find the recordings of the calls.

In frustration, I capitulated, paying my bill in full in order to get back my global data roaming.

O2 Promise To Look At A “Good Will” Credit

I was promised that O2 would then look into providing a credit.

O2 Break Their Promise Again

I’ve heard nothing. On calling back an enquiring, guess what? There is no record of the call or conversation.

AND Another Problem This Week

That was all last month. This month again I’ve been charged data roaming when I should not. On Tuesday 20th August at around 6pm I called (at my own cost, from Sweden) to enquire about the incorrect data charges.

After I went through the usual process (of explaining that my account was an older account on their “DICE” system and that I had bundled data … 10 minutes of my time, and cost for the call I’m never getting back) eventually it was concluded that the issue would escalate the problem to Credit Control who would text (SMS) me within 5 days to confirm the credit amount. At that time I could then pay my bill.

I also double checked with her both that I would NOT be barred or cut off and also that as I was travelling to the USA I would also not be barred. All seemed well.

O2 Breaks Their Commitment And Promise, Again

Wind forward 48 hours later. Thursday 8am, guess what? I wake up my phone is barred. I can’t get data. Or call.

I try to dial out – the phone says “Your calls are being automatically transferred, please hold”. Instead of transferring me -as promised- I then get another message saying “The speed dial you have called is no longer available. Please call your team manager for help <hangup>”.  In other words, their call system was broken and I was arriving at an internal automated message.

I had to borrow a phone to call O2. I then had the usual 10 minutes explaining I have global roaming, that I on the DICE system, and that I should not be charged. “If you’re using your phone abroad, you’ll be charged for data roaming” says the woman. “No, really, I won’t, and I have not been for 5 years. Check my tarrif” I exhaustively retort.

O2 Magically Loses All Call Records Again

I then also explained that I had a call only two days before, dealing with all of this. The lady said there was no record of my call “The person has not tagged your account” she said. Unbelievable.

“Didn’t you ask her name” said the O2 operator; “No” I replied, because even if you do, the operator will not give their last name, so you have the first name of someone who could be in any one of numerous call centres who is impossible to track.

The Incompetence Is Laughable

Not only that, but gallingly, O2 had sent me a text customer satisfaction survey to ask me my opinions of the call, which I had responded to. Yet, now, despite sending me texts from the number “24442” asking me about the success of the call, this very call was untraceable and did not exist!

So just to clarify: O2 say there was no call, or at least, there is no record of it. Yet they are sending me SMS texts asking me to complete a survey on the quality of the call they have no record of.

Eventually she passed me to her supervisor who explained that something on my Blackberry was doing something routing data the wrong way, that they couldn’t tell me what, but that if I carried on doing whatever it is I was doing, I would be charged.

I am not tethering (I appreciate this attracts charges) and I am only using the regular BB services I have always used.

I understand that Blackberry, having their own proprietary international network integrated with the telcos use their own APNs etc so that yous have to use Blackberry’s conduit to carry data. But I have not changed what I’m doing in 3 or 4 years. I still simply use email, the inbuilt browser, Twitter and my Facebook apps. And Google Maps. That’s pretty much it.

The Crux

None of these things should be my problem. O2 have now raised the bar, temporarily, while the credit team look at my account (which they were already looking at, allegedly). But I have no recourse if they don’t, or if they cut me off again.

O2 owes ME money

And meanwhile, as a consequence of the call (which I had to do as I needed my phone for meetings first thing so needed it unbarred) it has meant I missed a train, which meant I missed an appointment (£45), the attendance of which I’d lost half a day of consultancy (a few hundred pounds, which ironically is on an mobile app project for O2!), paid train fares to get to Cambridge from London the previous night, and back this morning (£35) for an appointment I missed. Not to mention the costs of calling from Sweden two days before, which O2 will no doubt bill me for (another £10?)

Who is going to pay for my time and expense, dealing with O2’s incompetence?

Yes I can take my business elsewhere, only to run in to the same problems across all the mobile networks.

Competitive Pricing, Awful Service

“Competition” for quality of service, is not working. Pricing, may be. But there is no recourse for the average customer.

I must be in the top 3-4% of O2’s customers in terms of expenditure. Over the years I’ve been called an “O2 Select” customer, or “O2 VIP”. My bills are frequently over £200, despite the bundled roaming data (even when O2 don’t charge me!). But I’m sick of being promised a reliable service and being delivered the contrary. I’m sick of the contract I enter in to with O2 and other corporate business not being a two-way street. I’m sick of being treated like I’m an idiot. You can’t track that there was a call? Balderdash. Your computers have a record of my incoming call two days ago, your computers are recording my survey answers which I’m STILL answering, and I’d be amazed if actually, you only keep call records for 6 months.

No engagement by people who will solve the problem.

Worst of all I’ll get no response from this complaint, even if I send it to the head of customer service, let alone the CEO.

Today were I running Fortune 500 company with 1000’s of staff, I’m so annoyed I’d switch telco. At least that business might impact O2’s bottom line. Instead, as a lone mobile subscriber, there is no recourse to taking my business elsewhere except to another telco that will care equally little and I won’t even have the retort that I’ve been a customer for over a decade.

All I can do is post here, to my Twitter feed and to Facebook, which is a combined reach of 12,000+ excluding reposts or RT’s. I’ll put it on LinkedIn too, and the MomoLondon list – a list of telco industry luminaries.

The Cost To Shareholders of Bad Customer Service

It’s a sad day that companies who spend so much money to convince customers to purchase or switch from another provider, have such a poor ethos to supporting their existing customers.

When was the last time a large company caused you to react “Wow, what amazing customer service?”

This is caused by many things, but includes a lack of ownership of problems by the staff at the coal-face, those dealing with customers directly. That in turn is because the leadership at O2 and other corporates favours ignorant process over staff who have real authority to make sensible decisions, who have been devolved responsibility, and thus would care more about what they do, when they do it, why they do it, and for who.

I discussed this corporate customer service problem years ago here and how it actually how problems provide an opportunity to create a more loyal customer.

Company Culture (and Customer Service) Comes From The Top

The biggest problem is that if you’re aiming to capture the mass market, giving bad customer service -even pro-actively rude and contemptuous service- often works. Just look at RyanAir (who I refuse to fly with on principle!) and the attitude of Michael O’Leary.

The culture of a company comes from the top. And not getting a response of any kind, or a true resolution, or the financial credit that I deserve as a consequence of the incompetence of O2, is atypical of corporate customer service today.

Long may the social media revolution grow – and power to the people in doing so. We pay your wages César Alierta (CEO, Telefonica ..who of course isn’t on Twitter himself). You should be doing everything in your power to make us feel good about doing so, not hating your brand; because THAT is the way to maximise your share price and shareholder return, not the equivalent of slash and burn.

Meanwhile, if you want strike a blow at corporate greed and incompetence, and champion the voice of consumers, why not re-post this blog CC-ing O2 ..and do me a favour in the process! 😉

Why The 350 Dead Bangladeshi’s Are Our Fault

Ever shopped at Primark or any of the other 100’s of clothing stores who turn a blind eye to their supply chain?

How's that cheap t-shirt you're wearing feeling today?

How’s that cheap t-shirt you’re wearing feeling today?

The terrible irony of Primark (which is often the target of choice by campaigners against cheap labour etc)  is that it’s actually owned by Associated British Foods plc, which is a conglomerate which is 54% owned by a not-for-profit trust which does a lot for charity in the UK. I know this because on my way to Sweden last week I sat next to the Marketing Director (of ABF, not Primark) who explained this. According to omnipresent Wikipedia:

“Some 54.5% of ABF is owned by Wittington Investments.[17] and 79.2% of the share capital of Wittington Investments is owned by the Garfield Weston Foundation, which is one of the UK largest grant-making charitable trusts, and the remainder is owned by members of the Weston family.”

Garfield Weston are a family-founded, grant-making trust which has been supporting charities across the UK for over 50 years (check out their good work here) but lets get back to clothing and 400 dead Bangladeshi’s

Your leverage to affect change is directly related your choice to buy from a retailer who guarantees supply chain good standards and ethics, or not.

Your leverage to affect change is directly related your choice to buy from a retailer who guarantees supply chain good standards and ethics, or not.

Specifically Primark, with revenues of £2,730 million and 36,000 employees, itself has the resources if it so wishes to ensure it’s entire supply chain adheres to certain standards. The market (in this case the supply chain itself) would accordingly respond if this is what was demanded of it by the buyers (e.g. Primark).

The future is in your hands

So, the fix, is actually really rather straightforward. All that is needed is the impetus – best demonstrated by our own purchase choices along with -ideally- a PR outcry, in the same way that most people don’t want horse meat in their burgers from some far flung country, resold and transported half way across Europe.

So friends, the power to prevent another 350+ dead clothing workers really is in your hands; or at the very least, the catalyst for change resides in your wallet/purse.

UPDATE: Primark (and some other companies) have offered compensation to the victims (BBC News link)

The march of Windows Metro inspired design

A while back I wrote a blog post saying I thought the forthcoming release of Windows Phone and it’s metro interface (plus subsequent Windows 8 release) would probably trigger a change in fashion with regards digital design. This was partially demonstrated by the MySpace new design also.

Seems this prediction may have been salient, as I’ve started seeing a variety of designs popup both on software and websites which clearly owe a nod and sometimes more, to the Metro interface.

What designs have you seen which look like bastard children of the Metro UI ?

Capture

 

Note the menu design on the Port du Soleil website navigation and the new AVG anti-virus navigation.

What happens when you complain to TFL about London Bus drivers?

..in short, the answer is a belated but appreciated personal reply, but tangibly, precious little.

Many London bus drivers, employed by private companies operating in conjunction with TFL, are at best aloof and at worst down right rude.

Many London bus drivers, employed by private companies operating in conjunction with TFL, are at best aloof and at worst down right rude.

Credit to this article on public transport customer service, for the photo>

My main complaints were:

  • That I had a specific bad experience with a bus driver
  • That this is not unique
  • That many people I know (including other bus drivers I have spoken to) AGREE that rude, uncommunicative, unfriendly bus drivers are endemic in the industry

My complaint, and subsequent reply, are published below in full, for those who care.

My email sent on the 3rd December 2012:

Sent: 03.12.12 12:10:19
Subject: Formal Complaint

Dear Sir / Madam

Bus REF: DLA20S,
Registration: W404VGJ,
Route: 243 from Waterloo, @ 10:47 am on Monday 3rd December 2012

Can someone explain to me why TFL find it acceptable that on repeated occasions your bus drivers are permitted, seemingly encouraged, to treat passengers with such contempt?

The bus reference and time above refers to just one occasion where, after I ran to the bus stop and bus door, the driver closes the doors as I arrive, sees me, looks at me, and despite it being obvious I wish to board chooses instead to drive off.

There was no traffic which caused his need to depart so speedily as Waterloo bus station is not on the highway.

The hall mark of a successful business in this day and age is good customer service. While a minority of bus drivers still seem to embody this (and what I would hope remains a British tradition of politeness and good will) a vast majority do not.

I have too often experienced an arrogance from drivers, or at best ambivalence. Aside from driving off, many:

– Don’t respond when said “good morning” to or “good afternoon”
– Some accents are so thick that if they do reply they either mutter or sometimes one can’t understand their response
– Some don’t speak or respond when asked questions, at all!

I’m paying for a service and they are being paid by the custom I provide. Moreover, they are representing my (and presumably their) country and London, to everyone single passenger that boards a London bus.

I’m fed up with feeling like an unwelcome guest aboard my own bus service.

In summary then I would like a proper response (and action taken) around two points:

1) Regarding my specific experience:-

A) why the driver felt it appropriate to drive off

B) what has been done to ensure he pays more care and attention in future

2) In general why so many TFL bus drivers:-

A) seem to feel empowered not to put the passenger first

B) are rude, unresponsive and uncommunicative (if you don’t want to speak to the general public all day, don’t be a bus driver)

C) ..and what is going to change in TFL’s training and employment policies to ensure the points A/B change to substantially improve the customer service and friendliness of London bus drivers, to have an impact on tens of thousands of peoples lives every day who use London buses.

Perhaps TFL’s senior leadership can view it as a revolutionary new approach to their people, to go along with their revolutionary (and very good) new London busses.

Yours sincerely,

Andrew Scott

NB: To ensure a considered response from you, this letter will be published on line, on my personal blog, to my 3,600 twitter followers, publicly on Facebook, and sent to the Evening Standard newspaper.

The reply I received, 23 days later:

Our Ref:         1011585328/ABB

Date:              27.12.2012

 Dear Mr Scott

 Thank you for your message. I was very sorry to hear that a bus driver on route 243 (registration W404VGJ) did not allow you to board his bus when departing from Waterloo on the morning of 3 December 2012.

 Arriva London, who operate route 243 on behalf of Transport for London (TfL) have asked me to pass on their apologies to you. The driver could have allowed you to board and the incident is being followed up with the aim of minimising the possibility of similar errors on his part in the future.

 I am also sorry to hear of your many experiences when bus drivers in London have not exhibited the expected level of customer service. Transport for London (TfL) certainly does not encourage the sort the sort of behaviour you described and we engage with the private bus operating companies, who employ the bus drivers and manage the day-to-day running of the routes, to ensure that standards are as high as possible.

 All bus drivers in London are formally assessed by a Driving Standards Agency (DSA) Approved Assessor and must pass an additional test for Passenger Carrying Vehicle’s (PCV) as assessed by the DSA (which includes a focus on customer service). In addition, we work very closely with all our bus operators to improve the quality of our services, highlighting the need for attention to proper standards of service and driver conduct. We also strongly emphasise staff training and liaise with all bus companies to ensure we continue to achieve improvements across London. Whenever we receive complaints about poor standards, we follow them up with the bus company concerned. Assuming the complaint is upheld and it is not of a nature that could lead to dismal or suspension, the driver will undertake a variety of follow-up actions aimed at improving their standard of service.

 We would hope that the majority of bus drivers are not rude, unresponsive or uncommunicative and that they do try to the put their passengers first. The evidence we collect from our various monitoring exercises suggest that most of London’s 21,500 bus drivers carry out their jobs in the manner expected of them and customers find many to be helpful and professional in general. It is regrettable that isolated drivers cause this perception to be called into disrepute. Therefore we greatly appreciate you highlighting this incident to us, as it allows the bus operator to take action aimed at continuing to improve the level of service provided to our customers.

Once again, please accept our apologies for the delay and upset caused by the driver’s behaviour on 3 December. Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention. Please don’t hesitate to contact me again should you require any further information or assistance.

Yours sincerely

 David Gwynn

Transport for London – Customer Experience

We’re All Drug Addicts. And The Drugs War Is Madness.

Note: See the base of this blog post for links to other external sites with interesting content on this topic.

I could easily spend the entire day writing a post about this headline statement.

In fact, I could probably consume the next year of my life researching and justifying a case for a radical rethink of the way we deal with drugs – both legal and illegal – in our society. But that will have to wait for another life time.

What I do know is that current policy is not working. The war on drugs is being lost every day. For me it’s a matter of simple logic. You can blame capitalism, market forces and the human condition.

If enough people want something badly enough, there is always going to be a healthy market which someone somewhere is going to try and serve in the name of making money.

Put simply, I’d rather that money was collected by the Exchequer (the tax man, in simple parlance) and put to good use, if you’re content to call government spending a good use, than lining the pockets of the few; a group of rich criminals who control and expand their international organised crime empires on the back of mass consumption of illegal substances. Even if you’re not happy with the term good use for government spending, the government does considerably better things with the money than organised crime – well, at least most of the time. Illegal wars excepted.

You’re a drug taker. Oh yes you are. Every day.

Medicines, tea, coffee.. In fact, that most people don’t view coffee – or more accurately caffeine – as a drug, is an anathema to me. Such a powerful psychoactive drug, which is highly addictive and readily available to anyone. Pretty toxic to dogs by the way, so best not perk up your pet Labrador with a quick Nespresso.

The power of this substance was ably demonstrated to me today, after an abstention of a couple of days from this Ethiopian elixir. I woke up at 4AM with a cracking headache. Seven hours and some ibuprofen later I’m no better (and I’m not a big taker of painkillers).

One cafe latte and within 15 minutes, I’m right as rain.

Caffeine at it’s best.

We’re all drug addicts. Alongside the 90% of Americans who consume crystalline xanthine alkaloid doses every day.

The American alcohol prohibition of the 1930’s didn’t work (and in the process, set the stage for three decades of organised crime, as the profits from the illegal alcohol production set the American Mafia up for the next fifty years). It’s ridiculous then to think that prohibition of Marijuana or in fact other substances is going to be successful.

Drugs should be make legal, probably with a couple of exception. Why? Because they can be controlled, quality controlled, access controlled and because Marlboro & co will kick the arse of every drug cartel in the world within months.

A not insignificant 7.6 billion pounds of the UK government tax revenues comes from Tobacco sales. Imagine what you could do with those from  additional drug sales?

Education. Proper care for those addicted to any drug – prescribed medications included.

The sometimes dangerous differentiation between legally rubber-stamped drugs (that many of us consume every day – some good, some bad) and those which are illegal for historical or habitual reasons must surely stop in our lifetime.

Two of the biggest practical problems with the illegal street trade is the up-selling onto harder drugs by street dealers and that those substances which are already dangerous are made more dangerous by impurities. For a drug user, it is a lottery.

How often do you go the off license to buy a bottle of wine or beer and be up-sold by a shop keeper to a crate of 50% proof Polish vodka? ..almost never. And at least even if you did, you could be pretty sure the Vodka wouldn’t blind you.

Every day, people risk their general health by taking illegal substances, bought from dubious sources, and in the process support child labour, horrendous criminal activities both at home and particularly abroad, creating in the process potential future or immediate burdens on our health services, without even having contributed to their funding via the very recreation which subsequently causes the damage.

In summary, de-criminalisation is no answer. This actually makes the situation even worse. It encourages consumption and increases demand which further funds organised crime – as even if not a criminal action to consume, production will remain so.

Politicians need to grasp this nettle and lead. Part of a politicians job is to educate the masses and in the process lead the country to the right solution. That will, for sure, take time. And sadly, perhaps a very long time as some parts of the electorate have not always been renowned for their forward thinking. That might suggest it translates then to potential political suicide for any one who dares suggest the status- quo with drugs is not the way forward. May be. May be not.

Juan Manuel Santos should know what he’s talking about, he’s the President of Columbia. He says http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/nov/13/colombia-juan-santos-war-on-drugs  ..it may be an interesting decade for management of the drug problem.

UPDATE: Here are the full results of the Q1 2013 UK Survey on the amendment of drug policy for the UK Drug Foundation.

UPDATE: Report in May 2013 suggest the war on drugs is leading to a Hepatitis C pandemic

UPDATE: The Global Commission on Drug Policy, supported by Kofi Anan and three ex US Presidents amongst others, alongside Latin American leaders both past and present, damning the existing global policy on drugs.

UPDATE: BBC November 2013 More illegal drugs kill people due to fake content or bad supply

UPDATE: Mark Curry writes of The Truth About Our Favourite Addictive Drug  (i.e. caffeine)

UPDATE: More evidence that media reporting of drugs behaviour (and deaths) is distorted and misguided.

UPDATE: Are some Doctors to blame for the Heroin crisis?