Bringing back Thatcherism, one rave at a time
Apr 17 2009
So Gordon Brown sacrificed his only begotten spin doctor over the Easter weekend. Sadface. The man who leaked the emails that toppled Damian McBride was Guido Fawkes – real name Paul Staines and already the biggest cheese on the UK's political blogging scene, often dubbed “Popbitch with a blue rosette”. Less well known is that, before he was the scourge of the political classes, Staines was the self-styled saviour of rave.
As head of PR for the 88-89 rave-o-nautical M25 party planners Sunrise, he was a key player in events like Mid-Summer Madness, definitive acts in the mythology of mong. Under his partial guidance, Sunrise famously got round its legal issues by declaring itself a private members club. When the rozzers once more turned up the heat, Staines and co-organiser Tony Colston-Hayter formed the Freedom To Party Campaign at the Conservative Party conference, later drawing 4000 young people to Trafalgar Square for a rights-protesting party (in fact this was the famous day that The Sun reported that ravers were ripping the heads off of pigeons in an "ecstasy frenzy").
“I have fond memories of taking LSD and pure MDMA, trance-dancing and thinking that I had turned into a psychedelic, orgiastic wisp of smoke - it was the most staggeringly enjoyable, mind-warping experience I have ever had,” he has since decreed. Incredibly, even as he trance-danced from night till morning light o-o-o-o-pening his mind, he was holding down a day job as a foreign policy analyst on right-wing Tory pressure group Committee For A Free Britain. Uh, and also acting as UK general-secretary of The International Society For Human Rights. One minute he'd be on TV pretending there weren't any drugs at Sunrise's parties (he claims that he coined the myth that the "acid" in acid house was a Chicago term for theft, not drugs) . The next he'd have his politics hat on, on Newsnight, talking about civil war in Angola.
Staines could juggle all this because he was a pure free-market libertarian, as committed to free trade as free psychedelics, a philosophy he once described as "Thatcher on drugs." "Uptight Conservatives are probably the people who would benefit most from taking drugs, particularly Thatcherites, with their machine-like obsession with efficiency and abstract attachment to the freedom to make money," he's quoted as saying, “I'm as much of a believer in capitalism as the most earnest of Young Conservatives, but couldn't we put acid in the punch at the YC Ball and then really have a party?”
In the past few days, Guido's Labour enemies have insinuated that David Cameron may have been at some of these repetitive beat parties, and bang on cue, there's now a slice of YouTube doing the rounds which, at 0:12, shows a figure who may or may not be Just Call Me Dave at a Sunrise event.
The generation who once filled time having their tits blown off in Surrey wheat fields are now the ones running the country. The great entrepreneurs and innovators, who were slick enough to see the potential in rave are now mixing with the pointy heads who're in charge of democracy, and they're not just the peace'n'luv lefties of folkore. Once, the acid house generation was turning to their mates and saying: “Imagine – just imagine – if the Prime Minister was on this stuff, maaaaaaaan...” Is that moment drawing ever nearer? I asked Guido Fawkes (who has an odd way of neglecting to write the first word in a sentence.)
Have you turned your back on rave entirely? Do you still party?
I'm 42, married with kids. Yes I have outgrown it. My music collection is out of date. "Strings of Life" brings back fond memories.
No matter who gets elected, there's no hope of any change in drug policy liberalisation anytime in the foreseeable future really, is there?
Farcical situation where dope is demonised. Yet so many of this generation have smoked it, including Cameron. We should push the door open with legalised medicinal cannabis.
You're part of the generation who were involved in the mass-popularisation of illegal drugs. The political classes are now of a similar age. Do you think there's more overlap between the two than we generally suspect?
I know there is.
How do you think the political classes you rub up against view your turn as a Sunrise mong messiah?
Given your propensity to leak, would you ever consider leaking backdated drugs-shocker stories about politicians? Is drugs-policy hypocrisy alone a good enough reason, or do you take this as a case for the public-private distinction?
I can't remember most of the details. I would only trash a politician who was a drugs hypocrite.