Cameron runs rings around SNP on Scots independence

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Opinion digest: PM's referendum masterstroke, sexual harassment, UK's failed drugs policy

LAST UPDATED AT 12:16 ON Mon 15 Oct 2012

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CAMERON IS RUNNING RINGS AROUND SALMOND
ALAN COCHRANE ON SCOTS INDEPENDENCE
David Cameron has been accused of caving in over the Scottish independence referendum, because he has allowed First Minister Alex Salmond to influence the wording and timing of the vote and extend the franchise to 16-year-olds. "In fact", says Alan Cochrane in The Daily Telegraph, "right from the off, Cameron has outmanoeuvred Salmond." The PM forced the SNP to hurry along its plans for a referendum in January when he said only Westminster had the legal power to hold a vote. Since then, Cameron has agreed to hand that power to Holyrood - in return for key concessions. These include ditching a second question about increased powers for Holyrood so that the referendum is simply 'in or out' and ensuring that the vote is monitored by the electoral commission – not a body picked by Salmond. "Still, while Cameron has been the victor in the initial skirmishes, this is only the start. Now, the real fight begins - and the stakes could not be higher."

WE WERE ALL HARASSED – WE JUST PUT UP WITH IT
MINETTE MARRIN ON SEXUAL POLITICS
"Like most women of the baby boom generation I have plenty of nasty memories of groping," writes Minette Marrin in The Sunday Times.  "When I was 17 in the late 1960s I got a temporary job in a London insurance office. There were two unattractive men in suits in a basement office who regularly put their hands up my miniskirt or fondled my breasts when I handed them their letters... The BBC, which I joined as a trainee at 28, was more trying still." We tended not to complain. Because going to an industrial tribunal meant you'd probably never work again, "women realised they just had to deal with it".  It's good now that we have legislation, what's less good is that relations between men and women at work have become sexually awkward. "And despite all this... things haven't changed much since my youth". Just recently Andrew Marr was photographed with a hand down the trousers of a woman on his production team.

UK DRUGS POLICY IS UNSUSTAINABLE
RUTH RUNCIMAN ON FAILED DRUGS LAWS
The annual cost to society of drugs is estimated to be about £15bn – yet no frontline politicians are ready to change British policy, says Ruth Runciman in The Guardian. "But there is one reason, above all, why we might now see a change, and that is money." At least £3bn is spent annually in the UK tackling drug problems – some funds good services, but most of it does not. In boom years this was objectionable; now it is unsustainable. "I have chaired the independent UK Drug Policy Commission for the past six years and today we publish our final report. In it, we set out our conclusions for where the evidence suggests we can improve lives and save money. This includes reforming our 40-year-old drug laws and changing the way the government classifies drugs, although we do not believe the current evidence justifies legalising supply. Above all, policymakers need to take far more account of the independent and reliable evidence available." · 

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