The drum-beating jingoism behind the Herald's on-again, off-again calls for increased military spending always confused me. What could be their motivation? This week brought me an answer. Thank Helen we have the LAVs, because the Herald has declared a 'War on P' - a week-long series on the effects of P on the country, and what is being done to fight it (literally, it seems).
Ever since the rather successful 'War on Hitler', these kinds of wars don't really seem to have gone too well. There was Lyndon Johnson's 'War on Poverty', but last time I checked (last Thursday) there were still poor people. The 'War on Terror' seems to have achieved the limited goal of no more planes crashing into buildings (touch wood), yet the fact that I still can't take a machete or a shoe bomb on a plane suggests that some of the rascals are still out there. And the less said about the 'War on Drugs' the better.
Perhaps the Herald have decided that by narrowing the remit to a 'War on P', we can have some sort of impact. But I'm not the first person to suggest that the metaphor of war is not the most helpful when it comes to solving social issues. Oddly enough, today the Herald seems to agree; page A2 has the stories "Quiet revolution in dealing with young offenders" and "Judges help teens beat habit, neither of which sound like the firing of cannon and clash of steel. Tellingly, however, neither article - both by Simon Collins - explicitly mentions P at all - in fact, they seem largely about alcohol abuse. The only articles that do are about impending court dates for celebrity P abusers Millie Elder and Peter Verschaffelt.
All of which leads me to question the timing and motivation of this war. Did they just have a backlog of drug stories? How big a problem is P? The anecdotal stories sent in by readers are heartwrenching, but they can't take the place of actual research. And is media hysteria really the best way to deal with the P problem? I trust that we will have all these answers, and more, when the series ends on Friday.