A Question Time audience member has made a simple but compelling point about the ‘absolutely rubbish’ standards to which politicians are held over drug use.
During the episode, the discussion turned to the recent political confessions, most notably Michael Gove confirming he had used cocaine and Rory Stewart saying he had taken opium.
A woman in the audience, who said she was a nurse, pointed out that the nurses’ code of conduct is stricter than it is for those who hold the highest offices in the country.
“I have to follow a strict code of conduct. If I stood up publicly and said that I had taken class A drugs, I would not only lose my job – I would be struck off the register,” she said to applause.
“The MPs have a code of conduct and it’s absolutely rubbish compared with the nurses’ code of conduct.
“The nurses’ code of conduct covers you in professional and personal life.
“The MPs’ code of conduct only covers them for their professional life.”
READ: Tory leadership contest: A good moment to draw a lineThe MPs’ code of conduct, put through the House of Commons in 1995, holds MPs to the principles of selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty, and leadership, but adds that it “does not seek to regulate what Members do in their purely private and personal lives.”
The Nursing and Midwifery Council, on the other hand, states that those on its register must “uphold the reputation of [their] profession at all times”, including obeying the law.
“You should be a model of integrity and leadership for others to aspire to,” says the nursing code.
The simple but powerful point was put to the panel of MPs Theresa Villiers, Stephen Kinnock, Adam Price and Mark Reckless plus actor Francesca Martinez.
READ: Who is on the BBC Question Time panel tonight?Adam Price had said: “As a gay man who first went clubbing in the 1990s it would be a bit of a surprise if I hadn’t taken drugs. I’m not saying I’m proud of that, but I’m not going to lie about it either.”
He said that, as 15 million people in the UK have taken some form of illegal drug, prohibitions have failed “in the most dismal way possible” and that alcohol is the most dangerous substance of all.
In response to the audience member, Price laid into Michael Gove’s hypocrisy for having punished others for things he has done.
“He supported the most draconian laws, actually sacking teachers and other public servants, and yet he himself was guilty of the same thing.”