Persistence pays

In a democracy, arguments can be decided by all sorts of things. Brilliant oratory from a committed leader like Churchill or Martin Luther King can turn the tide of history

In a democracy, arguments can be decided by all sorts of things. Brilliant oratory from a committed leader like Churchill or Martin Luther King can turn the tide of history. Or a terrible tragedy like the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center in New York can change opinions in seconds. Sometimes people are simply convinced by the strongest logical argument. But most often, and particularly in small but important campaigns, persistence pays. Governments and civil servants are ponderous beasts. They tend to react slowly, like turning a supertanker, so you often have to dig in for the long haul. Some of the most effective campaigning MPs are the Parliamentary equivalent of Jack Russell terriers; they're fearless, determined, and they won't let go of a Government Minister's leg once they've sunk their teeth into his or her shin.My campaign on the problems caused by drug addicts in Weston will need persistence too. We've had some victories already - the numbers of addicts being sent to Weston from other parts of Britain fell by over a quarter last year, and the number of beds in dodgy rehabs has been slashed too. But getting the Government to change things is going to be a marathon, not a sprint.Last week I invited drug chiefs from the National Treatment Agency to Weston to see the problems we're facing here. I brought in experts from the police and the council to back me up, and we made the point that too many addicts are being dumped in Weston and forgotten. It went well, and the drug chiefs agreed we had a point. They'll take it up with their bosses, but I'm absolutely certain I'll have to chase ministers in Westminster as well, to make sure the message has hit home. Time to be a Jack Russell!


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