Competition - Win a bottle of champagne

No 3552 Set by Gordon Gwilliams

Cannabis is legalised. The advertising agencies go wild . . .

Report by Ms de Meaner

Apologies for setting 3554 twice. Apologies to winner David Silverman for giving him an hon mensh. Mea culpas all round. I blame the subs. £15 to the winners. The bottle goes to John O'Byrne.



Cloud Nine Plus

(Contains cannabis)

Cannabisol Cloud Nine Plus ("poTpOt"*) is pleasantly flavoured and can be used as an appetite stimulant, muscle relaxant, analgesic, stoning aid and anticonvulsant.

It is a particularly suitable remedy for migraine, nervous rheumatism, social shyness, hysteria and loss of appetite.

Increases self-confidence, feelings of creativity and sensual awareness. Facilitates self-acceptance and concentration, reduces tension, hostility and aggression.

Enhances alpha-wave activity. Will not alter testosterone or other hormone levels. Each joint contains tetrahydrocannabinol, sunset yellow, Virginian tobacco leaf.

"Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man" (Matthew 15:11).

735/2/9 Delta-9-THC 571 MJhemp A

HEALTH WARNING: May produce psychological but not physical dependence. May impair short-term memory. Be careful not to swallow roach.

poTpOt is a registered trade mark. Licensed by the National Drugs Authority.

* As used by the Pilgrim Fathers.

John O'Byrne


You live your life in the fast lane. All day on the trading floor, all night in the clubs. Servants fuss around you. Women fall at your trouser zip. Life is great, and it is no more than you deserve. Then, one day, you have a piece of misfortune - you make a mistake, could happen to anyone. An unfortunate deal. You don't tell the bank. Instead you aim to make the losses up. But they don't reduce, they increase. You won't be beaten, you're a winner. Keep dealing. Just one good deal and you'll be back in good odour and enjoying life again. But the losses go on mounting, they get bigger and bigger. First it's thousands, then tens of thousands. The noughts go on accumulating, you're into millions. There are rumours. The bank asks questions - you can't answer them. The police take away papers. A prosecution is under way, your wife leaves you, workmen shun you, friends avoid you . . .

Who cares? Light up a Marrakesh Slim - and everything is COOL!!!! . . .

HEALTH WARNING: This product can lead to troublesome giggling.

Geoff Horton

When you smoke The Real Stuff you really, you know, I mean it's not like you're smoking dope. Or getting stoned. Or getting mellow. (Although you are.) It's like you're asking somebody if they feel something and they tell you they are, and normally they would just be saying it, but then something happens so that they're not just telling you, it's that something else is happening although you don't really realise what it is, and they don't either, but this thing is still happening which is some kind of communication from them to you. And from you to them. Although I couldn't tell you about this communication, even though that is communicating something and you should be able to tell someone if it's about communication, right? It's just this thing, man, except it isn't a thing, OK?

Get The Real Stuff. You know it makes no sense.

No animals were harmed in the making of this advert. Although it depends what you mean by "harm". And human beings are animals. If you take money for something, that's being part of the harm process, even if you don't know it's happening at the time. So there was harm caused.

Robert Davis


Introducing Weed Factor Four, the latest from CannabizTM ! This is a packet of jive fives that will leave you helpless. Because Weed Factor Four is created from the finest resin around. In fact, we like to call it our resin d'etre. One suck on each customised, lip-easy roach, and you'll be on the road to a heaven you never even dreamed about. It's soft. It's cool. It's as refreshing as a drink of dew at dawn. And never leaves you as stoned as St Stephen.

Weed Factor Four has been developed after the most intensive testing, and it comes in several shades of strength. There's Weed Factor Four Lite, for that social workaday toke. Or there's Weed Factor Four Xtra, a cocktail joint you can pass around after a gentle dinner. For the hothead pothead, there's Weed Factor Four Slam, which defies all the known laws of gravity for eight hours at a time. And, for the connoisseur, we've just introduced NEW Weed Factor Four Mellow '99, a specially blended smoke with a hint of Asia Minor.

Weed Factor Four. From CannabizTM. The company that blows you HOT.

Will Bellenger

No 3555 Set by Gordon Gwilliams

The New Oxford Dictionary of English recognises the following terms: lunch box, black information, Barnum effect, car bra, eye candy, downshift, glory hole, mockney, mouse potato, pan-pan and zero tolerance. We want an entertaining text by 26 November containing all 11, not necessarily in their intended meaning. Max 200 words.

This article first appeared in the 13 November 1998 issue of the New Statesman, Why gays become politicians

David Young
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The Tories are the zombie party: with an ageing, falling membership, still they stagger on to victory

One Labour MP in Brighton spotted a baby in a red Babygro and said to me: “There’s our next [Labour] prime minister.”

All football clubs have “ultras” – and, increasingly, political parties do, too: although, in the case of political parties, their loudest and angriest supporters are mostly found on the internet. The SNP got there first: in the early days of email, journalists at the Scotsman used to receive bilious missives complaining about its coverage – or, on occasion, lack of coverage – of what the Scottish National Party was up to. The rest soon followed, with Ukip, the Labour Party and even the crushed Liberal Democrats now boasting a furious electronic horde.

The exception is the Conservative Party. Britain’s table-topping team might have its first majority in 18 years and is widely expected in Westminster to remain in power for another decade. But it doesn’t have any fans. The party’s conference in Manchester, like Labour’s in Brighton, will be full to bursting. But where the Labour shindig is chock-full of members, trade unionists and hangers-on from the charitable sector, the Conservative gathering is a more corporate affair: at the fringes I attended last year, lobbyists outnumbered members by four to one. At one, the journalist Peter Oborne demanded to know how many people in the room were party members. It was standing room only – but just four people put their hands up.

During Grant Shapps’s stint at Conservative headquarters, serious attempts were made to revive membership. Shapps, a figure who is underrated because of his online blunders, and his co-chair Andrew Feldman were able to reverse some of the decline, but they were running just to stand still. Some of the biggest increases in membership came in urban centres where the Tories are not in contention to win a seat.

All this made the 2015 election win the triumph of a husk. A party with a membership in long-term and perhaps irreversible decline, which in many seats had no activists at all, delivered crushing defeats to its opponents across England and Wales.

Like José Mourinho’s sides, which, he once boasted, won “without the ball”, the Conservatives won without members. In Cumbria the party had no ground campaign and two paper candidates. But letters written by the Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon, were posted to every household where someone was employed making Trident submarines, warning that their jobs would be under threat under a Labour government. This helped the Tories come close to taking out both Labour MPs, John Woodcock in Barrow and Furness and Jamie Reed in Copeland. It was no small feat: Labour has held Barrow since 1992 and has won Copeland at every election it has fought.

The Tories have become the zombies of British politics: still moving though dead from the neck down. And not only moving, but thriving. One Labour MP in Brighton spotted a baby in a red Babygro and said to me: “There’s our next [Labour] prime minister.” His Conservative counterparts also believe that their rivals are out of power for at least a decade.

Yet there are more threats to the zombie Tories than commonly believed. The European referendum will cause endless trouble for their whips over the coming years. And for all there’s a spring in the Conservative step at the moment, the party has a majority of only 12 in the Commons. Parliamentary defeats could easily become commonplace. But now that Labour has elected Jeremy Corbyn – either a more consensual or a more chaotic leader than his predecessors, depending on your perspective – division within parties will become a feature, rather than a quirk, at Westminster. There will be “splits” aplenty on both sides of the House.

The bigger threat to Tory hegemony is the spending cuts to come, and the still vulnerable state of the British economy. In the last parliament, George Osborne’s cuts fell predominantly on the poorest and those working in the public sector. They were accompanied by an extravagant outlay to affluent retirees. As my colleague Helen Lewis wrote last week, over the next five years, cuts will fall on the sharp-elbowed middle classes, not just the vulnerable. Reductions in tax credits, so popular among voters in the abstract, may prove just as toxic as the poll tax and the abolition of the 10p bottom income-tax rate – both of which were popular until they were actually implemented.

Added to that, the British economy has what the economist Stephen King calls “the Titanic problem”: a surplus of icebergs, a deficit of lifeboats. Many of the levers used by Gordon Brown and Mervyn King in the last recession are not available to David Cameron and the chief of the Bank of England, Mark Carney: debt-funded fiscal stimulus is off the table because the public finances are already in the red. Interest rates are already at rock bottom.

Yet against that grim backdrop, the Conservatives retain the two trump cards that allowed them to win in May: questions about Labour’s economic competence, and the personal allure of David Cameron. The public is still convinced that the cuts are the result of “the mess” left by Labour, however unfair that charge may be. If a second crisis strikes, it could still be the Tories who feel the benefit, if they can convince voters that the poor state of the finances is still the result of New Labour excess rather than Cameroon failure.

As for Cameron, in 2015 it was his lead over Ed Miliband as Britons’ preferred prime minister that helped the Conservatives over the line. This time, it is his withdrawal from politics which could hand the Tories a victory even if the economy tanks or cuts become widely unpopular. He could absorb the hatred for the failures and the U-turns, and then hand over to a fresher face. Nicky Morgan or a Sajid Javid, say, could yet repeat John Major’s trick in 1992, breathing life into a seemingly doomed Conservative project. For Labour, the Tory zombie remains frustratingly lively. 

Stephen Bush is editor of the Staggers, the New Statesman’s political blog.

This article first appeared in the 01 October 2015 issue of the New Statesman, The Tory tide