Tag Archives: bob ainsworth

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 | Also tagged , , and | 20 Comments

Opinion: Why we need an impact assessment of drugs policy

Yesterday, Labour MP and former minister, Bob Ainsworth came out strongly against drugs prohibition. He proposed an “Impact Assessment of the Misuse of Drugs Act”, an “independent, evidence-based review, exploring all policy options” which was welcomed by Lib Dem MP Tom Brake. This is precisely one of the things that the Liberal Democrats for Drug Policy Reform (LDDPR) are calling for and I’d therefore like to give an overview of why an impact assessment is needed and is something that all can support.



1. One has never been done despite strong reasons for concern
Back in 1971, there were no ‘impact …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 13 Comments

The truth about Lib Dem policy

Since Nick Clegg’s success in Thursday’s TV debate, there have been incredible comments made by high-profile Labour and Conservative politicians that have led to questions about how seriously the establishment takes the Liberal Democrats.

On Friday, Michael Gove called the Lib Dems “eccentric” and “outside the mainstream”, and Bob Ainsworth called their policy on Trident “silly”.

How can a political party with 20-30% of voters supporting them be eccentric and outside of the mainstream? Many Labour and Conservative policies could be seen as just that.

The suggestions of not replacing Trident, an amnesty for long-term illegal immigrants and cutting class sizes …

Posted in The Independent View | Also tagged , , , , , , and | 15 Comments

Two-thirds of key helicopters for Afghanistan unavailable

A news release from the party pings into my inbox:

Almost 2/3rd of the RAF’s Merlin helicopters, which the Government has hailed as a key part of increasing capacity and ‘ideally suited’ to Afghanistan, are incapable of carrying out their planned missions, according to figures obtained by the Liberal Democrats.

Answers to Parliamentary Questions have shown that of the 19 RAF Merlins in the ‘Forward Fleet’ (those aircraft which frontline commands are meant to be able to use), just seven – or 37% – are classed as ‘available’ (defined as ‘considered capable of carrying out their planned missions on a given

Posted in Europe / International and News | Also tagged and | 4 Comments

What the papers say…

Over at the Daily Mail, is the shine coming off Brand Cameron, or, is this just a kick up the pants? First comes the big slap…then the boot, with a stiletto heel.

Daily Mail, leader-column, 12.12.09:

“At a time like this, it’s madness to ring-fence any budget at the expense of the rest. Even sacred cows can be hugely overweight.  Since 1977, billions have been poured into health and education, without the improvements in standards we’d expect.

“How can Mr. Darling claim there’s no scope for cuts in the NHS, on the day we learn it is spending £1 …

Posted in News | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , and | 3 Comments
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