Author Archives: Lee Dargue

It’s time we talked about legalising drugs

There is currently much noise around the (unsurprising) news that a senior politician, who was once a journalist, spending much time in a large city in the UK, has taken drugs during his life – we’re taking illicit drugs here, cocaine, in Mr Gove’s case.

Despite some moral outrage, there has been a surprising shift in the criticism. Much of the condemnation has been around the hypocrisy of a cabinet minister. A minister who is wedded to a policy which criminalises users of drugs, as opposed to the actual taking.

I’m going to concentrate here on the argument to legalise drugs. There is, of course, much debate to be had, so I’m happy for you to contact me for further debate, and do your own research too (TRANSFORM, The Loop, Volte Face and Anyone’s Child are great places to start). I argue for legalising, not decriminalising drugs. Whilst users could seek better support, “decrim” leaves the manufacture, trafficking and supply of the drugs in criminal hands – that doesn’t really move us on much.

So, we have two choices when it comes to legalising drugs.

  1. We leave things as they are.
  1. We legalise and regulate, via state control. This would:
  • Reduce the black market for the manufacture and trafficking of drugs, which also includes human trafficking, including sexual abuse and other horrific issues in what is referred to as “they supply chain”
  • Increase health support for people who require it (we also need to be honest that not everyone who uses is addicted or dependent) and reduce the needless deaths in our families, towns and cities
  • Increase education regarding support, but also safer usage. Also unlock research into currently illegal drugs; some initial research suggests some illicit drugs could be used, as a start, to tackle schizophrenia and various cancers
  • Make the supply subject to legal controls – you wouldn’t accept alcohol mixed with rat poison, so why should people have it in their cocaine? Also this means age controls, labelling and proper quality control
  • Reduce gang crime, violent knife and gun crimes, and seriously tackle the “county lines” issue. We can’t just ask the Police to endlessly run around after gangs who supply – a gang removed can be replaced by a new one in less than hour. Speaking to the Police in many places, they often can be found to privately support changing the law, because the “war on drugs” isn’t winning – LEAP UK is a great source of information. 
Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 50 Comments

Mental Health is not a finished campaign – we need you more than ever.

I was excited to be speaking with many of our dedicated members, and many energised new members at the fantastic conference in Southport this past weekend. To my joy, I found that mental health is still very much a key focus for our Party.

In Coalition, thanks to Norman Lamb, Paul Burstow before him, and Nick Clegg as Deputy Prime Minister, government finally had a focus on Mental Health – something shamefully ignored by previous governments. We introduced the first ever waiting times for some areas of mental health, and enshrined “parity of esteem” in law – the requirement for the NHS to give equal consideration to mental and physical health when offering treatment.

Despite some light words from the Prime Minister, since the Lib Dems left office, mental health – as with the NHS and social care in general – has not had the proper funding it requires. This means the waiting times aren’t being met and the 2020 target is likely impossible to meet.

Daisy Cooper put forward a great motion to celebrate the NHS at 70 at Conference. Speakers followed with passionate stories about their call for the NHS to be protected and given the funding to fulfil its obligations. Indeed, only the LibDems are being honest about adding 1p to income tax in order to plug this funding gap, before seeking to introduce a dedicated Health and Care tax in the future.

Norman Lamb spoke with passion on how it’s an outrage for mental health to still be the Cinderella of our health service. Mohsin Khan talked about the horrors of people being sent hundreds of miles away from their homes just to gain a bed for treatment. Daisy then reminded us how the Lib Dems are the Party of the NHS.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 3 Comments

We must remember who we are fighting for

I’m a man. I’m cis. I’m gay. I’m middle-aged (oh come on…approaching!). I’m middle-class (yes, I can de-stone an Avocado without cutting myself).

I am also a liberal. I am also a Liberal Democrat.

We must, as liberals and LibDems, absolutely remember the most famous part of our oft-mentioned pre-amble to our constitution:

“…no one should be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity.”

No one. No ONE person, shall be enslaved by any of those facets of liberalism.

Every time I’ve gone to quit the party, or cause an uproar with a fiery post, I keep coming back to these 3 areas, where we believe no ONE shall be enslaved.

I oppose libertarianism, because whilst it favours the individual, it does so without a social context.

I oppose socialism, because I don’t believe it’s right for a group of people to decide what’s right for society, and then pass laws so that the rest of us do what we’re told is right for us.

Posted in News | 20 Comments

If you thought we were having a #libdemfightback – you’ve seen nothing yet!

Like many people, both in our party and out of it, I felt a sense of numb devastation following the result on June 23, a date etched into our country’s storied history.

The resulting euphoria of the Leave campaign, pouring salt into the wound, has little consolation in that the Remain euphoria would have been as high. It doesn’t surprise many of us, however, that a Conservative election for a new leader has started (don’t be so sure that Boris is loved by everyone in that party).

What did come as a surprise to me, is how quickly the Leave team have started rowing back.

Controlled immigration at a lower level? No, they say no.

£350million a week to the EU? Oh, I never believed that, some say.

You’re now giving all that to the NHS? We aren’t the government; we can’t make spending commitments they now admit.

I’ve been keen to say the Leave team – implying the leaders of the Leave campaign. Please remember, there are liberals who did want to leave in our party. The ones I know personally, are not anti-LGBT, anti-NHS or any other badges we could give to the likes of Boris or Farage so please, be careful when directing your anger to the right places.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 12 Comments

Person X supports the legalisation of cannabis

 

“Person X supports the legalisation of cannabis” is quite a headline. For that person to be a sports star or celebrity generates some interest. For it to be a user of cannabis, it often generates derision.

If X is the leader of a political party, or a former government health minister, it surely is big news. This is why I joined, and have stayed a member, of the Liberal Democrats: to have radical, evidence-based policies which strike out as making us distinctive and pleased Norman Lamb has put a motion forward to conference for this policy, and please Tim Farron has supported it.

When it comes to policy-making, we are the party that prides itself most on having an evidence base. Some parties go for populism over evidence, whereas we often prefer radical policies. And some parties go on mainly grabbing headlines. These three elements are often at odds and one usually wins over the other.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 38 Comments

Why Luciana Berger was so wrong to attack Norman Lamb

When you start a fight, you should choose to fight the side who is damaging you or the cause the most. You should also make sure you have the right backing and tools at hand to win the fight.

Luciana Berger has decided to both ignore the current Government’s reneging on spending for mental Health, whilst also choosing to attack Norman Lamb who has done more to put mental health on the political radar than anyone, whilst she has…well…what, exactly?

The point-scoring attempt this week to blame Norman for the continuing crisis in mental health services finally broke the straw that I’ve been carefully balancing for a while now.

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

Opinion: Why we can all be Charlie

I’ve often been moved to offer a rebuttal to comments made in the public sphere. Indeed, I’m known for taking a sharp intake of breath and squeezing my eyes shut in an anxious state when Michael Gove went to make a comment on education, before taking my big letter writing pen to an article asking what planet he inhabits.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 118 Comments

Launch of new Liberal Democrat group focussing on Mental Health

Mental Health is finally getting the focus it has long deserved. With stigma slowly dropping and support services being increasingly scrutinised for quality, we need to ensure that provision is improved in both quality and quantity to meet the growing need for support.

I’m pleased to announce the launch of a new group today, called the LibDem Mental Health Association (LMDHA).

You can visit the website and sign up to offer your support, guidance and, where able, your commitment to help grow the group to help form policy in our party and government. You can join at www.ldmha.co.uk/join

Commenting on their …

Posted in News | 4 Comments

Opinion: Part of the solution is that we need more male feminists

Some rights reserved by Leo ReynoldsI’ve had enough.

I’ve had enough of women being seen by far too many people in society as second class citizens. I’ve had enough of working in the private sector and seeing women patronised for their ideas with a “oh that’s a good idea, love” attitude. I’ve had enough of women having to fight for the right to be heard and then being granted a voice, because it’s time to ‘let the woman talk’. I’ve had enough of a pervasive society, which for centuries has degraded women to being the pretty ones who are meant to serve men. I’ve had enough of women being pressurised

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 9 Comments

Opinion: Liberal Youth has changed for the better and I see promise of more

Following Sean Davey’s thought-provoking post on the upcoming elections of new Liberal Youth officers, I wanted to offer support and some further thoughts. In agreement, Sean is right to point out that LY cannot allow its incoming officers, along with the existing ones, to indulge in coasting or long-winded bickering and risk over-shadowing the hugely important work of LY in campaigning.

Sean also raises the issue of LY’s lack of diversity as a problem. I totally agree that we can’t allow things to stay as they are, and after some initial concerns I back the Candidate Leadership Program. However, …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | Leave a comment

Opinion: #KillTheBill – but not for a reason you may be aware of…

This weekend saw the LibDems argue both for and against the Health and Social Care Bill. It may be a cliché, but whilst I’m in the #KillTheBill camp, I am still proud of our democratic system that allows votes on both sides of the argument to be counted (interestingly, I had to explain to supporters of the bill that those of us arguing against don’t want NO bill, just not THIS bill – for some reason they seemed surprised at that).

I spoke to both Paul Burstow and Judith Jolly about some of the concerns I have, and I pay tribute …

Posted in Op-eds and Party policy and internal matters | Tagged | 21 Comments

Opinion: Our party is a choir of many voices – Let’s not single out the sopranos

Our party is becoming one of a few, select voices.

Many members, which I include myself alongside, are quickly cementing our position as liberal radicals – those that choose not to define ourselves in the centre, nor on the left, but merely as those who wish to seek to form policies that will aid many in society. We will let history decide which end of the political spectrum we allegedly sit on.

Along the way, we may be asked for more radio or TV appearances, or be asked to write articles for certain websites or newspapers. This is good for …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 5 Comments

No, Stephen Tall, I’m certainly NOT Daily Mail!

In his latest blog, Stephen Tall argues that byseeing Jeremy Clarkson as un-beneficial to a modern society makes me somehow a right-wing *insert your own adjective for the Daily Mail here*.

Not in the slightest. I’m left-wing (so David Cameron doesn’t like me either, boo-hoo) and totally a liberal. I’ve never ever claimed Clarkson should not be allowed to speak, as that would be illiberal. I simply say that he is a loud-mouth oxygen thief (I use the same freedom of speech against him, that he should rightly be granted).

He’s claimed to be attention-seeking, I agree. And before you …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 14 Comments

Opinion: Muscular liberalism works, but only if you exercise the muscles

Nick Clegg had a visit to Birmingham on Wednesday, and members had the chance to question him in a private location. He invited the “vitriol” of people, as well as hopefully some positive questions, as he accepted, as leader, he has to take the flak.

He gave some interesting responses to questions ranging from the interventions in Libya, education policy and what people should do to help hold and increase support for the party.

It was this last point that struck a chord with me, because Nick espoused a view that I’ve held for months – we cannot allow …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 24 Comments

Opinion: The Social Liberal Conference was a major success

The SLF conference was a major success. Yes, it was “full” – David Hall-Mathews careful not to refer to the event as “sold out”. Yes, lots of people debated and tweeted like crazy on subjects ranging from NHS reforms to the history of the American fridge. But it wasn’t the numbers or amount of talking we did which was the most important. It was the fact that there is still a groundswell of progressives alive and well in the Liberal Democrats. In fact, since entering government with the Conservative party, and with a recent “win” (yet to see how it …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , , , , , , and | 17 Comments

Opinion: a reboot worked for Star Trek. It can work for the Lib Dems too

The BBC handed out more negative adjectives, including “collapsed”, “destroyed” and “drubbing”, to our losses (ignoring the gains and holds) on May 5th than Simon Cowell does on the X-Factor, so really we can leave other people to castigate the party and Nick Clegg, and we should get on with being honest about what happened and being focused on where to go next.

Whilst I’m going to present this piece in a positive manner, it in no way diminishes my understanding of how badly we were flushed on May 5th, just I feel there is no point wallowing in it continuously. …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 13 Comments
Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarJayne Mansfield 25th Aug - 5:32pm
    @Nonconformistradical, I am sorry that you don't like the terms left and right, but there is a common understanding of what they mean ( and...
  • User AvatarRoger Lake 25th Aug - 5:30pm
    Dear Michael BG, we do seem to have got in a tangle, but I believe we're on the same side! I will expand my two...
  • User AvatarRuth Bright 25th Aug - 5:28pm
    Great Miranda - it will be even more touching when your committee sorts out maternity leave for candidates. I first raised this as a (twice)...
  • User AvatarDavid Raw 25th Aug - 5:06pm
    @ John Harris "They also want to give the Scots chance of another referendum." Do you mean like we want to do on the EU,...
  • User AvatarPeter Wrigley 25th Aug - 5:01pm
    Thanks for all these comments, most from people who know far more about railways than I do, and most opposed to HS2. I'm disappointed to...
  • User AvatarDavid Warren 25th Aug - 4:51pm
    @MichaelBG I also made a submission to the 'Fairer Share For All' working group which isn't reflected in the final paper. There is a problem...