Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Lib Dems should urgently grasp the drugs nettle

With The Observer editorial and contributors calling for reform of drug policy over the last couple of weeks and The Independent yesterday announcing the resounding success of heroin prescription experiments, the time is right for the Liberal Democrats to rethink their approach to drugs policy for the next election.
In 2002 The Observer published a poll that suggested that 2% of the population believed heroin should be legalised or decriminalised. In August of this year, a survey by PoliticsHome suggested 19% of the population supported legalisation of all currently illegal drugs, and over half the population supported legalising some of the currently illegal drugs. It appears attitudes to prohibition are changing, and changing fast. Our current policy was formulated in 2002. If it took popular opinion into account at that time, these polls suggest that popular opinion has moved on, and so should we.
We have the opportunity to lead public opinion on this issue. We can revive faith in politics by presenting intelligent policies for the good of the people and then try persuading them to vote in their best interest. While Labour and the Tories pander to the loudest man in their focus group sessions, we can show that we have the courage to stand up, tell the truth about the policies we need, and lead.
Below is the text of the flier for the only drugs policy fringe event at the coming conference. If you want to contribute to the debate, please come along.

Sunday, 20th 18.15 - 19.30
Bournemouth International Centre (BIC),
Durley Suite

Liberal Democrats For
Drug Policy Reform
What Can Be Gained From
Thoughtful Drug Policy Reform?

Chaired by: Dr Evan Harris MP.
Speakers include: Francis Wilkinson, former chief constable of Gwent police, Danny Kushlick of the Transform Drug Policy Foundation, Graham Watson MEP, and Ewan Hoyle of Liberal Democrats for Drug Policy Reform.

In March of this year The Economist’s cover story was “Prohibition
has failed; legalisation is the least bad solution”. Esteemed
columnists such as Polly Toynbee, Nick Davies, Johann Hari and
Simon Jenkins, the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, Lord
Adair Turner and Tory leader David Cameron have all recognised
prohibition as a failure and called for legalisation to be considered.
But just how damaging is prohibition to our society? How should
we regulate a legal trade in drugs? And can a policy of regulated
supply be a vote winner at the coming election?

Useful links:
Transform website: http://www.tdpf.org.uk/
Leaked drugs report:
Recent Pro-legalisation articles in:
The Times:
The Financial Times:
The Independent:
David Cameron MP’s views:
An excellent book on prohibition by Mike Gray, author of The China Syndrome:
For further information or to join
Liberal Democrats for Drug Policy Reform
e-mail ewanhoyle@gmail.com

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