No smoke without ire.

It's like the sound of an industrial-sized cutlery drawer being thrown onto a tiled floor. I refer to the skeletons clambering out of politicians' cupboards in a frenzy of self-congratulatory coughing to teenage cannabis abuse. These admissions - currently from fresh-faced labourites but previously indulged in by conservatives - come accompanied by comforting phrases like "youthful indiscretions at university" and "well, in those days it wasn't as potent or as dangerous". Bless.

It does make me wonder though how far our tolerance can be stretched. I believe that most of us who bang a moral drum are guilty of some misdemeanours like "minor" theft - the odd pen or notebook from the office - which we justify on the grounds of its' insignificance, but where do you draw the line? Suppose a public figure in this current hiatus admitted to slightly more than cannabis? Would we accept the odd hooter full of coke, for personal and occasional use only of course? If the scale of a public figure's dodgy history gradually rose from weed to blow to smack to GBH to sex with animals to murder, who says enough is enough?

It may raise a few eyebrows if a popular world leader was guilty of murder but look around you. We are rightfully exercised by terrorism, but Israel had a prime minister in the early 90's who had been a member of The Stern Gang, a terrorist outfit that blew up the Brits in the old Palestine in the 40's. (There may be more, elderly but serving politicians to this day who were on the fringes.) There's Arafat, Hammas, Mandela, Gaddhafi, Pinochet, a few Irish politicians and several more who, at one time, were outright pariahs but who became acceptable faces when it suited some other agenda. I suppose murder committed in a haze of youthful zeal is ok, so long as it was a momentary lapse or done in the spirit of the age. Maybe you can have smoke without ire after all.