Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Mail in the Metro

On Monday the Metro ran the story above.  This lead to the following letter by Andy from Birmingham (presumably not attending the conference) in the Tuesday edition:

"So the Liberal Democrats voted at the party’s annual conference to reform drug laws to make possession of heroin and cocaine legal (Metro, Mon). 
Yes there is a problem with drugs in this country but is decriminalising them going to help?  Making them as easy to buy as milk, bread, alcohol and cigarettes will undermine suppliers but what message does this send to our impressionable children?  And as for Amsterdam-style cannabis cafes, what a joke. 
It’s unsettling to think we helped put these people in charge of our country.  The power has clearly gone to their heads.
What on Earth will they come up with next?  A law to ensure bankers and politicians receive hefty bonuses every year?
Let’s just hope the powers that be come to their senses – and soon."


I particularly liked the way that he jumped from looking at drugs policy to the obviously connected topic of bankers bonus's as if they are similar - just to try and encourage maximum outrage.  I also love the Helen Lovejoy impression of immediately relating it to the children to try and make people even more emotive rather than logical and factual.  I don't know if Andy realises this but if a child would like to get their hands on drugs now, all they need to do is know the right people, exactly the same as if they want cigarettes or alcohol.  I'm also going to guess that he's never been to Amsterdam.  I was there myself less than a month ago and although cannabis was being used openly, I would hardly say it was a joke, in fact it looked pretty serious to me.  The overall impression I got of the cafés were that they appeared to be basically just like pubs, although even late at night there appeared to be no violence or tension around them (though admittedly I only had a two night snap shot and this is not where we were spending our time).

Anyway I couldn't let this letter go unchecked/without a response, it had annoyed me too much, so here was my response (published in today's issue):

"Both the Metro's headline writers and Andy from Birmingham appear to have missed the difference between decriminalisation and legalisation, the former (as called for in the Liberal Democrats conference) will not make drugs as easy to buy as milk, bread or even alcohol and cigarettes.

 "Possession would be prohibited but should cause police officers to issue citations for individuals to appear before panels tasked with determining appropriate education, health or social interventions."

 In other words they wont receive a criminal conviction which could ruin their lives.  I suggest people read the actual motion which aims to look at actual evidence with the overall aim of reducing the harm drugs cause to society and the individual rather than jumping to conclusions.   It may be unusual for a party in Government to look at evidence rather than tabloid reaction but far from letting the power go to their heads the Liberal Democrats are continuing to do that when setting their policy."

Well that was my email anyway, the actual version makes some small changes, mainly for the better but also removing my criticism of the Metro's headline writers.  Hopefully it comes across okay, there's only so much you can write - an essay or the whole blog post I was thinking of writing as criticism would never get printed!

I am pleased that despite the negative press the party will get from this they still went ahead and carried the motion.  It is just one of the many things I've heard over the past few days coming from Birmingham that make me proud to be part of the party.  (I will blog at a later date regarding other conference related things!)

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