Author Archives: Ewan Hoyle

Opinion: Being tough on drugs means being pro-reform

The Sunday Times is claiming to have knowledge of the results of Jeremy Browne’s drug policy “grand tour”. In an article today, Put that in your pipe, Mrs May, the paper describes many conclusions expected to feature in the final report which will bring great cheer to the ordinary Liberal Democrat member:

“A review ordered by Nick Clegg, the deputy prime minister, and due to be published before Christmas, is expected to suggest Britain could benefit from emulating two American states where the use of recreational cannabis is legal. The Home Office report is also expected to call for

Posted in News and Op-eds | Tagged , , , , and | 23 Comments

Opinion: The media have failed the public over the Woolwich atrocity

At least two brutal and disturbing hate crimes have been carried out this month. Each of the two I will draw your attention to left an apparently innocent man dead from knife wounds. And each victim was apparently selected on the basis of what they were wearing (a Help for Heroes t-shirt) or what they looked like.

These attacks differed in only one important feature, in that one of the attackers had something to say and sought help from passers by in order to communicate his message to as many people as possible.

Without the assistance of others, the ambitions at …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 51 Comments

Opinion: The doping scandal that wasn’t

Two doping scandals hit the headlines last week. One was very serious, apparently very long-running, and seemingly ignored by the sport’s governing bodies for a great many years. The other culminated in Lance Armstrong finally being stripped of his 7 Tour de France titles.

In case you’re puzzled, I should inform you of the apparently entrenched practice of dosing up on an addictive stimulant drug before top level football matches. Glen Johnson, Rio Ferdinand and Phil Neville have all admitted recently that they take this drug before matches and have been doing so for some time. They don’t seem to think

Posted in Op-eds | 2 Comments

Opinion: Don’t mistake the bodyguard state for a nanny

Richard Reeves has had a go at trying to describe a path for the Liberal Democrats to follow in order to escape from our current political mire.

It’s an interesting read, but peppered with many more sentences that made me groan than nod along. I take particular issue with his characterisation of minimum alcohol pricing and cigarette sales restrictions as indicative of the “nanny state” at work. The nanny state slaps your wrist as you reach for the cookie jar and says “no”. The nanny state stands between homosexuals who love each other and want to get married. The nanny …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 23 Comments

YouGov poll shows huge support for Lib Dem drug policy

Last year’s drug policy debate at conference ended with near-unanimous endorsement of the policy motion “protecting individuals and communities from drug harms“, but since then Liberal Democrats seem to have been passing up every opportunity to publicise our new policy.

When Theresa May dismissed the advice of the chair of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, Lib Dems were silent. When Ken Clarke said the War on Drugs was failing but that decriminalisation wasn’t the answer… Lib Dems were silent. When an audience member of question time last week asked if it was time to control, regulate and …

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 10 Comments

Opinion: Changing demand without changing supply puts prostitutes at risk

It is with some concern that I read of proposals to criminalise paying for sex in Scotland.

Prostitution is a catch-all term that describes arrangements that should make the state very concerned indeed – trafficking of children for brutal sexual exploitation for example. There are also arrangements that the state has no business interfering in – the work of a self-employed, financially comfortable escort making very good money to supplement another income in an environment over which he or she has control.

Changing demand by criminalising the purchase of sex will have a number of unintended and undesirable consequences.

Firstly, we should consider …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 9 Comments

Time Banking: A simple route to community spirit?

Ever since my unsuccessful council by-election campaign in November I’ve had a burning desire to ask more positive questions of the electorate in the run-up to my next council election in May. What kind of volunteering might you be interested in getting involved in? What kind of skills do you have that you might like to pass on to others in the community? What interests and hobbies might you like to share with your neighbours? I had notions of gathering this data together and then signposting voters to voluntary groups or suggesting they get together with others who share their …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 6 Comments

Alcohol minimum pricing should be this government’s first bold evidence-based drug policy

One of the most common arguments I read against the government control and regulation of the currently illegal drug markets is that we have so many problems with alcohol. Were cannabis for instance to be “legalised”, authors presume its use will increase and create new social problems to rival those that alcohol inflicts.The simple counter-argument employed by myself and other drug policy reformers is that alcohol is a very poorly regulated drug. Were any of the other currently illegal drugs to become regulated by the state, the alcohol model is one model it would be extremely unwise to replicate. Alcohol …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 61 Comments

Opinion: We need better housing options for the elderly at Christmas

Those elderly and alone at this time of year need attractive alternative housing options.

It is greatly to the BBC news team’s credit that they continue to highlight the plight of those less fortunate as the majority of us look forward excitedly to Christmas. Following on from their piece on homelessness on Wednesday, on Thursday they highlighted the issue of loneliness and isolation among the elderly at this traditionally sociable time of the year.

Homelessness and isolation in old age are two of the most pressing issues resulting from our growing and ageing population. The fantastic work of caring charities helps …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 6 Comments

Opinion: Pity the Scottish school-leavers when English fees rise

I’m a candidate in a council by-election in the Hillhead ward in Glasgow. I’m a Liberal Democrat, and the ward has a big old university slap bang in the middle of it. You’d think I’d be bricking it, wouldn’t you? After the tuition fees betrayal, students hate the Liberal Democrats, don’t they? Well they might do, but I’d like to explain how the real villains in Scotland are the SNP.

The SNP are in fact imposing thousands of pounds of up-front fees on each and every Scottish student and their families. “But the SNP have preserved free tuition!” I hear …

Posted in Op-eds and Scotland | Tagged , , and | 36 Comments

Opinion: Our flawed drug laws are at heart of riots

David Davis MP, in his appearance on the Question Time “riots special” said: “There are estates in Alan Simpson’s constituency where there are youngsters the age of 12 or 13 who got £30 a day paid for delivering drugs on whose estate the man to look up to was the drug dealers”

Brian Paddick: “Exactly”

Davis “because he had a big car and he lived well. And if we create circumstances like that it’ll be no surprise we get the problems we’ve had in London and the Midlands and the North in the last week.”

This is a fairly astute recognition of …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 43 Comments

Opinion: the lone maverick won’t change drugs policy. An army of moderates might.

As a passionate advocate of drugs policy reform, I was very excited on Wednesday evening about the prospect of a former drugs and defence minister coming out in favour of regulated drug supply. I thought someone with such experience could blow the debate wide open, and we could really start getting to grips with the issue as a nation. Sadly the debate that resulted was again loose and ill-defined. Was he talking about legalisation of all drugs, decriminalisation, prescription of heroin to addicts? Because the debate was poorly defined, it was allowed to spin out into sensationalism and I quickly got the sense that this wasn’t going to be the breakthrough I had hoped.

I have therefore come to the conclusion that drug policy reform is not going to happen soon if we are going to continue this trickling pattern of lone mavericks each proclaiming different varieties of the sensible, progressive message. What we need instead is for all these mavericks to get together with respected stakeholders and work to produce ONE message, one set of policies which can be held up as the first step. Reformers need to engage with other lobby groups outwith the major political parties whose activities aren’t closely monitored by the Daily Mail for any sign of intelligent (and therefore reprehensible) thought. We need to engage children’s charities and talk through how best reform can tackle issues of child neglect and abuse. We need to talk to police associations about how best to reduce serious organised crime and petty thefts. We should talk to retailers about the potential to massively reduce shoplifting. We should invite the teacher’s unions in to talk about how we close off criminal career opportunities for disadvantaged children and help them engage in education as their best means of advancement. Mental health charities can make vital inputs into breaking the links between depression and addiction or between cannabis and psychosis. The list of sensible influential groups who can contribute to the development of and subsequently support a single message of moderate reform could go on and on.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , , and | 20 Comments

Opinion: my Guardian drugs surprise

Cannabis stance is wrong, says Lib Dem drug campaigner

This was the surprising headline that greeted me on the guardian website just a few short hours after I’d made my maiden speech to conference.

I wasn’t planning to give a speech from the conference floor when I arrived in Liverpool. Having seen the latest motion I had drafted on drugs policy again be rejected by the Federal Conference Committee, I was instead concentrating on encouraging as many people as possible (without being too pushy) to attend the fringe event “It’s Time We Talked About Drug Policy” at which I was …

Posted in Conference and Op-eds | Tagged | 10 Comments

Opinion: that Liberal Democrats for Drug Policy Reform poll

A poll conducted by LDDPR last month got some positive exposure last week with a mention in Antonia Senior’s opinion piece in thursday’s Times “Over to you: Tell me why drugs must stay illegal.” It was also referred to at greater length in Mark Easton’s excellent blogpost “Drugs Policy: The British System” the day before.

I feel it is important for the results of this poll to be explored further as some of the implications are profoundly important for the progress of the debate on drugs policy in this country and beyond.

Almost all polls conducted prior to …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 19 Comments

Opinion: drugs policy

Saturday was World Drug Day, a day intended to serve as a reminder of the need to combat the problems illicit drugs pose to society. The problems are numerous, deadly serious, and close to overwhelming to many states around the globe but the current prohibitionist approach mandated by the UN drug conventions has failed to make any significant impact upon the profits of the criminal cartels, demand for their products, and the terrible consequences of the trade for communities in the UK and beyond.

The UK currently spends around £19 billion on the criminal justice system due to the criminalisation of …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 31 Comments
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Recent Comments

  • User AvatarMichael 1 20th Jul - 3:38pm
    @David Raw I appreciate that your line is always woe is the Lib Dems. And as I commented recently it is unlikely that we will...
  • User AvatarJoseph Bourke 20th Jul - 3:36pm
    The observation of the senior press person about the forces of gravity holding Lib Dem polling figures below the double-digit mark, that “We were playing...
  • User AvatarJohn Kelly 20th Jul - 3:28pm
    You may be delighted to announce Bournemouth again Geoff but I am disappointed that for the 5th year in a row we'll be on the...
  • User AvatarPeter Watson 20th Jul - 2:57pm
    @David Raw "What’s the difference between Bletchley and Northamptonshire ?" I've no local knowledge, but here (http://britainelects.com/2018/07/18/previews-19-jul-2018/), Andrew Teale (every week!) writes an excellent preview...
  • User AvatarDavid Raw 20th Jul - 2:40pm
    What's the difference between Bletchley and Northamptonshire ? Can it be that one broke some sweat and put some effort in and the other one...
  • User AvatarDavid Raw 20th Jul - 2:28pm
    Wera could also point out that the Ministry of Defence has got over ten thousand houses standing empty as a result of a privatised deal...