THE spectacle of Tory leadership candidates admitting to having taken ­illegal drugs has been bizarre, but predictable.

The fact senior members of the Tory party, including Dominic Raab, Andrea Leadsom and Rory Stewart have a past comes as no shock, and many will probably wonder why anyone should care.

As someone who is more on the side of legalising drugs, you would think I wouldn’t be judgmental about these indiscretions by candidates when they were younger.

But the reality is we should hold those running for public office to the highest standards, and for them to be accountable for their actions. This is particularly important when we are looking at the candidates running to become the next Prime Minister, the top job that is available in British politics.

All of this was clear in the Andrew Marr interview with Michael Gove at the weekend, when he was grilled about what took place.

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Mr Gove had attempted to take the sting out of the revelations he took cocaine “several times,” 20 years ago by being open and honest. In the interview he admitted he was “fortunate” to avoid prison, as it was a “crime” and “a mistake.”

But the biggest problem for Mr Gove was that he opened himself up to being easily accused of hypocrisy as journalists went through his public service record and life before it, looking at anything related to drugs.

And one thing that was spotted was a column he wrote in The Times in 1999 - when he is now saying his drug-taking took place - in which he criticised “middle-class professionals” who took drugs. There were also later reports Mr Gove hosted a party the night before that column was published, at which the Class A drug was allegedly taken by guests.

Journalists, as they should, will of course be doing the same for the other candidates who have admitted drug use, and you have to wonder if it will damage their chances. For many Tory supporters, who are hardline on drug use, you would imagine it might not be viewed sympathetically.

Boris Johnson, the current favourite to succeed Theresa May, looks to be only slightly damaged, though, as he went through all this in 2007 when he admitted in a magazine interview he tried cocaine and cannabis as a teenager and later joked it off on Have I Got News For You.