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Julian Huppert: Politicians can't afford to look tough any more. We need to embrace drugs reform

November 12, 2014 4:16 PM
In Liberal Democrat Voice
Originally published by East Midlands Liberal Democrats

Writing in the Independent, Julian Huppert makes the case for drugs reform in the wake of the Parliamentary debate brought by he and Caroline Lucas. They were debating the Home Office report instigated by Liberal Democrat ministers which provided evidence that the prohibitionist approach simply doesn't work. Unsurprisingly, the Tories did everything they could to suppress it.

Julian HuppertJulian writes about the debate and the Liberal Democrat perspective:

"My party, the Liberal Democrats, having been pushing for reform for a long time - as have a small handful of others, such as the veteran Labour MP Paul Flynn. We want to see an approach that recognises that drugs are harmful, whether they are legal or illegal, and seeks to reduce that harm. The evidence shows that the best way to achieve that is through reform, and so we should move to something like the Portuguese model. However, to date we have faced strenuous opposition from the Labour and Tory frontbenches, who insist on trying to look tough.

"However, we made real progress in the debate. With one exception, every single speaker spoke out in favour of reform. There were nuances as to the details of the reforms needed but lear agreement that we need to listen to the evidence and change our approach. Despite the hostility of the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister - a hostility that is odd, given that in opposition the PM called for reform, and even supported look at options such as legalisation and regulation - every Tory MP who came to speak disagreed with them, and supported our approach.

"The only dissenting voice during the debate was, sadly, Labour's Shadow Minister. She was the only person who wanted to argue for the existing failed policy, and did a spectacularly poor job of justifying it. So regressive and counter-intuitive was her approach that a fellow Labour MP stated she [did] "not know what world she [the Shadow Minister] is living in." In contrast, Norman Baker, then the Drugs Minister, spoke compellingly for the need for an improved policy.

"Our motion passed unanimously. The Shadow Minister, and any other MPs who continue to want to stick with the status quo, clearly did not have enough courage in their convictions to vote against it."

You can read the whole article here.