THE real significance of Michael Gove’s cocaine use is not the individual hypocrisy it exposes, but the much wider political and social hypocrisy about drugs it highlights.

Cannabis use is de facto legal. I know of 14-year-olds who enjoy easy access, whether through their parents or on the street in St Andrews. The police do not prosecute for possession, or small-time dealing; you can even grow the plants at home with impunity so long as you avoid an industrial set-up.

Use of Class A drugs may be more covert, but it is also tolerated to the extent that the police show little interest in prosecuting users. The priorities for the police’s scant resources are containing the harm addicts wreak on communities via theft, violence and anti-social behaviour and catching the odd serious dealer. We are not winning this war, nor can we.

Politicians from all parties prefer moral grandstanding to honesty about drugs. Drug use is extremely common and it has been socially acceptable for a long time – as Mr Gove’s admission shows.

Only where it is an urgent public health issue intricately bound up with socioeconomic deprivation, do we huff and puff.

In the meantime, such victims of drugs are left to sicken and die, while their communities have to cope with the fallout in broken families, violence and crime.

Linda Holt (Conservative Councillor, East Neuk & Landward), Anstruther.