Yesterday Bob Ainsworth, who served as Minister of Defence under Gordon Brown, called for an end to the "War on Drugs" and for legalisation on the grounds that it is a war we are losing.

One shudders to think what would have happened if Mr Ainsworth were in charge of our country in 1940, rather than Winston Churchill. No doubt we should have given up that particular war as well on similar grounds.

As it happens Mr Ainsworth is right that we are losing the "War on Drugs", but not as he seems to believe, because it is an unwinnable war. Indeed if the might of the state cannot be used to win against shadowy figures on street corners, why on earth do we think we try taking on minor to medium countries as we have done in the last two decades and more (with mixed success it must be said).

No the reason we are losing this "War on Drugs" is that we are fighting with an intenseness, ferocity and determination, somewhere below that shown by the average Italian in the Second World War.

While our forces and those of our allies are no doubt performing their duties with honour when they face drug barons and their lackeys in Columbia, Afghanistan and elsewhere, on the front where it really matters, our own streets, we are cowering and surrendering to the druggie forces.

Why do drug barons exist? Because they know that a lot of people are willing to buy their product. Why are they willing to buy the product? Firstly because of the fake thrills it gives and secondly because they know there will be no serious sanctions if they get caught.

One of the arguments used by the pro-legalisation camp is that making certain drugs illegal "criminalises" the people who buy them. No it does not, any more than making murder a crime "criminalises" killers.

Illegal drugs do not just find their way into people's pockets. One cannot use the defence "Oh how did that get there? I've just been criminalised". No, one must actually go out and look for the stuff and buy it with your own money. Drug users are not victims, they have consciously and actively broken the law for their own pleasure.

Despite the buying and taking of illegal drugs being a deliberate breach of the law, the authorities do not treat it as such, as they do not seriously consider drug taking to be a crime or immoral.

This was shown by Mr Ainsworth yesterday when he appeared on the BBC's Daily Politics programme. Mr Ainsworth boasted with apparent pride that he had helped bring in water coolers to night clubs to stop drug takers dying from dehydration. The message that sends is clearly that the authorities not only do not disapprove of drug taking, but they'll help you to do it!

The government's own statistics also show that drug taking is not regarded as a serious offence. One senior drug apologist, Professor David Nutt, claimed recently that 160,000 people had been given "criminal sanctions" last year as result of possession of the allegedly soft drug cannabis.

While it's true that the police recorded over 162,000 incidents of cannabis possession in 2009 more than half of those were given a "cannabis warning", which does not even give the culprit a criminal record. Another 19,000 were given cautions and 11,000 were issued penalty notices.

Only around one in eight of the "criminalised" 162,000 actually ended up with sanctions which landed them in court.

If governments of any kind really wish to win the "War on Drugs" then they need to show that they really mean it. This means tough sanctions imposed on those caught possessing and taking illegal drugs.

Once the message gets through that taking illegal drugs will not be tolerated, because of the harm it inflicts on the individual and on the society that has to clean up the mess afterwards, people will think longer and harder before seeking out the vile stuff.

If demand were to drop low enough, it may even encourage the drug dealers and barons to think about finding a new line of business as well. So who will be the one to take up their country's call and fight this "war" for real? Kenneth Clarke. Oh dear.