Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

Posts Tagged ‘Conservative Party

Theresa May’s Government. A Very British Farce.

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What Could Be More Ridiculous?

That our Queen should be subject to the humiliation of delivering today’s speech is beyond forgiveness.

Mrs May brings our nation and the Conservative Party into deep disgrace.  There is no other period in modern history when we have been so rudderless, utterly without leadership and no prospect of anyone capable of taking charge.

An Absence Of Leadership

Corbyn’s campaign was inspirational. I take my hat off to him, salute, bend my knee, acknowledge as gracefully as I can that he was magnificent.

He made best use of Theresa May’s dreadful mistakes and charmless persona and the result was a triumph, if not a victory.  It was very close to the result I wanted.  In late May I wrote ‘The Best Election Outcome Is A Tory Government With A Weakened Theresa May.’

The prospect of doing a deal with the DUP, a party of socially retarded bigots with links to loyalist terrorism, is disgusting.  It throws into sharp focus the equally disgusting attacks on Corbyn for his efforts at peacemaking.  But even that is failing.

Mrs May is, beyond doubt, incompetent as PM.  The important issue is who can provide desperately needed leadership?

 

Written by Peter Reynolds

June 20, 2017 at 10:11 pm

Our Police Are Under-Resourced To Deal With Radicalisation And Theresa May Is Responsible.

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It is clear that the instigators of the Westminster, Manchester and London Bridge attacks were known to the authorities but the police simply do not have the resources to monitor these people as necessary. Since 2010, Theresa May has been responsible for this and she has failed.

This is another in a long and familiar line of failures.  Given the tragedies of the last fortnight, surely it should cost Mrs May the election?  A terrible, incompetent campaign along with her record on immigration, policing, drugs policy, the Passport Office, asylum, the Snooper’s Charter, the Border Force, her general authoritarian, secretive attitudes – surely this must be the end for her?

I fear not.  Although I am a Conservative on principle, Mrs May has been soundly and deservedly defeated in this election campaign.  Her record, her wobbly policies, her charmless, insincere style must lose her votes.

She is no leader, she is a bureaucrat with deeply puritan, authoritarian instincts.  She is no prime minister for Britain in the 21st century.  But it still seems she will be slithering back into Downing Street, just like the snake that, apparently, most people choose as her animal avatar.

I do not want to see a Corbyn-led socialist government and I think there is little chance of that but Mrs May must be defeated.  At all costs the Conservative Party must find a new and credible leader.  The future of Britain depends on it.

 

My Spoiled Ballot Paper. What Other Choice Is There?

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In case you can’t read my dreadful handwriting, here’s what I have written on my postal ballot paper:

Canning, Andy. Liberal Democrats – “An illiberal and undemocratic party”
Clayton, Kelvin Charles. Green – “Irrelevant”
Letwin, Oliver. Conservative – “I could vote for Letwin but this is a presidential election. I cannot vote for May.”
Rhodes, Lee. Labour – “Socialism is a delusion”

I remain a member of the Conservative Party but Theresa May is not a true Tory. It is she who has made this a presidential election, against all the principles of British democracy and I cannot possibly support her. She betrays all fundamental Tory values. She doesn’t believe in individual liberty and responsibility, she is a repressive, nanny-state authoritarian.  She doesn’t believe in small government, she is a bureaucrat who wants an ever-larger state encroaching into every aspect of our lives. She is not a true Tory.

Please review my previous articles about Mrs May.

22-01-17 – Theresa May Is Not A Tory, She’s An Authoritarian Bureaucrat.

29-03-17 – Thank You Ms May, Your Work is Now Done.

07-05-17 – Theresa May Isn’t Strong, She’s Cowardly, Evasive And Weak – And I’m A Tory!

22-05-17 – The Best Election Outcome Is A Tory Government With A Weakened Theresa May.

Written by Peter Reynolds

May 27, 2017 at 5:32 pm

Theresa May Isn’t Strong, She’s Cowardly, Evasive And Weak – And I’m A Tory!

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As a member of the Conservative Party, I am horrified with the dishonest and manipulative way in which Theresa May is running her election campaign.

She was a terrible Home Secretary with an appalling record of failure in every policy area.  However, I accept that she was the inevitable choice for leader when both Boris and Michael Gove bottled out.  Also, as I’ve written before, we needed someone stubborn, obstinate, pig-headed, intransigent and incapable of listening to get Article 50 triggered in the face of the anti-democratic Remaniacs.  She did a good job of that but now we need a real leader, someone who can actually implement her empty words about a “country that works for everyone” – which Ms May neither really means nor is she even capable of achieving.

Her refusal to engage in any proper debate is pathetic and brings shame on the Conservative Party.  Her bluster, barking and abusive style at PMQs is nothing to do with debate and not only is she refusing to take part in any TV debates but she’s avoiding any contact at all with real voters. It’s quite clear why – she’s an intolerant, abrasive and charmless person who really can’t deal with any dissent or disagreement. Her conduct in the Home Office where she ruled with an iron fist and micro-managed everything demonstrates this.  It’s not ‘strong’ to evade debate, to silence your opponents and to use government authority, power and facilities to undermine them.  In fact, on this last point, it’s probably unlawful as a misuse of government resources.

It’s ironic but also prescient that it was Ms May who named the Tories “the nasty party”, for that is exactly what she has achieved.  I’m also reminded of Ann Widdecombe’s remark about Michael Howard, “there is something of the night about him”.  This catches the spirit of Ms May very well.  I find her sinister, threatening and spiteful.

She’s clearly had intensive media training as Margaret Thatcher did but it hasn’t made her more appealing. True she seems to have controlled that dreadful sideways movement of her jaw and some of her worst gurning but her recent pitches to camera are nauseating: patently insincere, contrived and awkward.

The entire basis for this election is dishonest.  As PM, Ms May already has an indisputable mandate based on the EU referendum, endorsed by several votes in Parliament and by the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Act 2017.  It is utter nonsense to suggest that the result of this election will strengthen her hand. The only reason she has called it is political opportunism and why you can’t really blame her for that, as a Tory I object to her seeking to create a what is effectively a dictatorship.  I even have concerns that the real reason she wants this personal mandate is so that she can start to reverse the UK towards her personal position as a Remainer.  She may choose to accept a far softer Brexit than we voted for and with a big majority there is nothing we will be able to do about it.

Never forget, the political class, the Westminster ‘elite’ are in despair at losing their long-term retirement/second career/super pension plan arrangements.  The EU offered them all a permanent role with a lavish, protected lifestyle funded by taxpayers.  They desperately want it back.

I cannot vote to support Theresa May.  I will remain a member of the Conservative Party because its fundamental principles of individual liberty, responsibility and small government are what I believe in.  I may well be on the liberal, even libertarian wing of the party but it is Theresa May who is out of step, not me.  Her leadership is cowardly, evasive and weak.  I shall either be abstaining or voting tactically and that could even mean that I vote Labour for the first time in my life.

Written by Peter Reynolds

May 7, 2017 at 2:01 pm

How To Campaign For Cannabis Law Reform Under A Theresa May Government.

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  • Lobbying Parliament

  • If the Government Won’t Regulate Cannabis Then We’ll Do It For Them

  • The CBD Market

  • Medical Cannabis

  • Educating And Influencing Researchers

For cannabis and drugs policy reform, out of 650 MPs, there could not have been a worse person to seize power than Theresa May.  There are a few who come close on both Tory and Labour benches but no one who has such a long record of bigotry, denial of evidence and refusal even to consider the subject.

Senior Tory MPs For Cannabis Law Reform

To be fair, I am a member of the Conservative Party, which to many people involved in the cannabis campaign is a mortal sin but my advocacy is based on science and evidence, not tribalism or wider politics.  In any case, though many find this fact hard to accept, there has always been more support from Tory MPs than Labour. Highly influential and senior Tory MPs such as Crispin Blunt, Peter Lilley and Dr Dan Poulter are powerful advocates for reform. I firmly believe that the only sustainable route to legalisation is commercialisation and the left wing, nanny state, anti-business types are already pushing the ‘Big Cannabis’ scare stories.

So what can we do and what are we doing to advance our cause in these dark days?  Theresa May always has been secretive, inaccessible, unresponsive and entirely disinterested in any opinion except her own.  How can we possibly make any progress with a PM who has already shown she is prepared to cover up or falsify evidence and defines herself by her belief in a supernatural power?

There is more support for cannabis law reform in Parliament than ever before.  It is now official policy of both the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National Party. The support from Scotland is far more valuable than that from the discredited LibDems.  With the added factors of Brexit and Scottish Independence, the SNP is in a powerful position to advance its policies.  Also, in Ireland, both north and south, public support for medical cannabis reform is exploding.  Michelle O’Neill, SinnFein’s new leader, has pledged medical cannabis reform if she is re-elected (though she has no power to do so!).  Her negotiating position is immensely strong now that the problems at Stormont, the rise of Sinn Fein and the Brexit factor all combine to make a united Ireland a real possibility.

During the coalition government from 2010 to 2015, few doors were closed to us.  Over that period, CLEAR conducted more meetings with ministers and senior politicians than the entire UK campaign had achieved in 50 years.  Because we had support from the LibDems, and introductions from the Deputy Prime Minister, even Tory ministers were ready to see us, even if they were merely paying lip service.  That all stopped with the election of a majority Conservative government and after Cameron stepped down the doors were slammed in our faces, bolted and double-locked.  The campaign has been in the doldrums ever since. Or has it?

The last major achievement of the last few year’s campaigning was the release of the APPG report on medical cannabis in September 2016.  Alongside it, Professor Mike Barnes, CLEAR advisory board member, published his review ‘Cannabis: The Evidence for Medical Use‘.  To all impartial and reasonable observers, these documents should have initiated positive government action towards reform, even if it was only very limited in scope.  But no, Theresa May didn’t leave it to Amber Rudd, her successor as home secretary, she stepped straight in herself on the day of publication, before she could even have read it and dismissed the report out of hand.  This echoes the apocryphal story of James Callaghan, then PM, throwing the 1969 Wooton Report in the bin without even opening it.  Such is the inertia and prejudice that has not softened at all amongst the bigots despite 45 years of science and research proving that there are better, safer, more beneficial options available on cannabis.

Lobbying Parliament

For now, individual lobbying of MPs is our only route to power. Over the years we have refined our approach to this and we know what works.  Getting into ping pong correspondence with an MP is a waste of time.  An initial letter or email needs to be followed up with a face-to-face meeting and a determined focus on getting a tangible result. What sort of result you should look for depends on your circumstances but getting your MP to arrange a meeting with a government minister should be your goal.

If you’re a medical user then you’ll want to meet a health minister, preferably the Secretary of State, if not a junior minister or perhaps an advisor to the Department of Health.  Work with your MP to achieve the best result you can.  Your MP doesn’t necessarily have to agree with you about cannabis but they should facilitate your communication with government, that’s their job. If you’re more interested in the economic or social benefits to be gained from reform, you could ask for an introduction to the Chancellor, a treasury or business minister, or someone at the Cabinet Office who is involved in policy development.  CLEAR can usually provide someone to accompany you on meetings but this must be arranged in advance and agreed with your MP or whoever your appointment is with.  Alternatively, we can provide advice over the telephone on how to approach the meeting, what to ask for and what evidence or supporting material to take with you.

If the Government Won’t Regulate Cannabis Then We’ll Do It For Them

With an intransigent government that does it all it can to evade engagement on this issue, there is more that CLEAR is already doing.  If the government won’t take responsibility and regulate cannabis, then step by step we are going to do it for them.  Someone has to, there is far too much harm and suffering caused by present policy.

The CBD Market

Through 2016 the CBD market in the UK really began to take off.  These are products derived from industrial hemp, grown legally under licence that offer many of the therapeutic benefits of cannabis.  They should, in fact, be more accurately termed low-THC cannabis as apart from crystals and a few, rare examples of isolated CBD, they are whole plant extracts and contain all the cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids and other compounds found in the plants from which they are made.  Therefore they offer many of the ‘entourage effect’ benefits but with very low levels of THC.  It was obvious though that this market was heading for problems.  More and more dubious suppliers were starting up, many making brazen claims for the medical effects and benefits of their products and many without any product testing, quality assurance or honest customer service.  The law was then and always has been crystal clear, you cannot make medical claims for a product without it being properly licensed or regulated.  Inevitably, in June 2016 the MHRA stepped in and sent threatening letters to a number of CBD suppliers.

CLEAR took the initiative.  We wrote to the MHRA requesting a meeting.  We engaged with the leading CBD suppliers and our advisory board members Professor Mike Barnes and Crispin Blunt MP were quickly on the case.  The story has already been extensively reported but now, nearly a year on, our efforts are coming to fruition. We led the approach to the MHRA and in the process created what is now the Cannabis Trades Association UK (CTAUK).  It is now recognised by the MHRA, it has established a code of conduct and it is now the gold standard of quality, ethics and legality that can give anyone buying CBD products real peace of mind.  There are still cowboys out there, making false claims, selling products that offer no real benefit and even endangering their customers with products that are illegal under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 or the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016.  Now though, customers can go to the CTAUK website and choose a supplier that is operating legally, ethically and within the regulations that the industry itself has established.  We expect the MHRA very shortly formally to endorse CTAUK members as legitimate suppliers of CBD products as food supplements.

Medical Cannabis

Professor Nigel Mathers, Honorary Secretary, Royal College of GPs

Neither can we accept the government’s irresponsible and cruel policy towards people who need cannabis as medicine. So CLEAR has taken a further initiative. After Theresa May’s dismissal of the APPG report, we approached the Royal Colleges of medicine.  We pointed out that whatever the government might say, around one million people are using cannabis as medicine.  Doctors have a duty and an ethical responsibility to educate themselves on the subject and be able to provide properly informed care to their patients.  Our efforts have borne fruit.  Professor Mike Barnes and I have worked with Professor Nigel Mathers of the Royal College of GPs (RCGP).  We will be producing a draft set of guidelines on medicinal cannabis for GPs which will go the next meeting of the RCGP Council and is planned for publication in June 2017.  If the government won’t do it, we will and the medical profession agrees with us.  This will be the greatest practical advance ever made in medical cannabis in the UK.

Educating And Influencing Researchers

Dr Musa Sami, Peter Reynolds

The UK is the most prolific source of research into the harms of cannabis, particularly the tenuous links between cannabis and psychosis.  Despite dozens of studies, mainly from the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College Hospital, this has never been shown to be any more than statistical correlation.  Most of these studies are confounded by tobacco use but the latest work from Professor Sir Robin Murray and his team shows an even stronger correlation between tobacco and psychosis than cannabis.

Across the world, UK scientists have become notorious for this scaremongering which seems little different from the ‘reefer madness’ hysteria.  To be fair, much of this is down to the UK media which has barely advanced since the 1930s in its reporting.  It provides the environment in which researchers are able to gain funding for research into cannabis harms but hardly ever for cannabis benefits.

CLEAR is now working with the Institute of Psychiatry to develop a new and more balanced way of surveying the effects of cannabis.  Dr Musa Sami has asked us to advise on the construction of a questionnaire on which the Institute will base its future work.

What Exactly Is Theresa May Doing?

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theresa-may-looking-sidewards

Is she totally preoccupied with Brexit – but unable to tell us anything?

Is she fretting about her personal stake in the child abuse inquiry – a total, utter shambles?

Is she powerfully representing Britain to the new US president – or more concerned about losing influence to Nigel Farage?

Is she making decisions on crucial strategic issues like HS2, London airport expansion or our housing crisis?

Is there any realistic strategy for the NHS or for funding social care for an aging population?

In such turbulent times what we need is competence and radical leadership. That’s what we got back in 1979 when we had our last woman prime minister and it transformed our country.  It’s not what we’ve got now.

Theresa May was always a bad choice. Her record at the Home Office was appalling.  The only thing she achieved there was to stay in post for six years. She was a closet Remainer who was too sly to commit herself to either side of the referendum.

If immigration was a key factor behind Brexit then she was the minister who utterly failed to control our borders.  There was chaos at the Passport Office and the Border Force. Some of the injustices and inhumanity around immigration remind me of what we used to read about the USSR.  Her drugs policy has been an unmitigated disaster with the highest ever rate of drug overdose deaths, the explosion of NPS and the cruel, anti-evidence denial of access to medicinal cannabis.  She has also been demonstrated to be corrupt with a deliberate attempt to falsify the Home Office report on ‘International Drug Comparators’, which showed that tougher sentences make no difference to drug use and harms.

For reasons I have already explained, I resigned from the Liberal Democrats and joined the Conservative Party shortly before the referendum.  If there had been a leadership election, I wouldn’t have been entitled to a vote but I certainly wouldn’t have chosen Ms May, Michael Gove would have been my first choice.

How and why did she become prime minister?  I think she appeared to be the safe choice for the Conservative Party.  She was definitely the short term easy choice and she assumed office by acclamation without any vote. That made the whole transition very easy for the country at a very difficult time – and for the Conservative Party

I was impressed with her first few weeks.  She chose the right words, struck the right tone and gave the impression of a powerful leader, something Britain desperately needs. Even I, as someone who has fought against her drugs policy ever since she became Home Secretary, was prepared to give her a chance.  But it’s unravelling already.  She seems to want to do everything behind closed doors.  Her public performances seem more about point scoring than dealing with real issues. The vision she expressed about a country that works for everyone simply isn’t reflected in the reality of what she does.  No, she is no Margaret Thatcher.  She’s not even a poor imitation.

What exactly is she doing and what exactly do we think she will achieve?

 

 

May Brings A Fresh Start To The Cannabis Campaign.

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tm no 10

Would that we were in spring looking forward to a splendid summer. Instead, in mid-July we are heading into autumn towards what looks like a stern, drab and ominous future.   Theresa May is prime minister, perhaps the worst nightmare for those who seek cannabis law reform.

You have to admire her first few days though. What you see is what you get. She is smart, calculated and very, very certain about the nature of the government she will lead.  I have no doubt she has a softer, caring side and there is testimony to that effect from those who support her.  She is a strong woman, she will be sympathetic to people and causes that she chooses but ruthless and absolute against those she opposes. Our problem is that, as confirmed by both the National Audit Office and Public Accounts Committee, evidence has nothing to do with it. Theresa May’s drugs policy is based on her personal opinions and even the plight of those in chronic pain and disability is unlikely to change her mind even on the medicinal use of cannabis.  I remember Norman Baker told me that she simply does not comprehend that cannabis can be a legitimate medicine.  The very idea is anathema to her.  It is beyond her comprehension.  The daughter of a vicar, who attended a convent then a grammar school, she has a lot about her that suggests piety, reserve, self-discipline and control.  Admirable qualities but lacking perhaps in empathy with modern lifestyles and values.

Amber Rudd MP, Home Secretary

Amber Rudd MP, Home Secretary

But this is a fresh start.  Amber Rudd, the new Home Secretary, is cast from the same mould as Ms May.  My MP, Oliver Letwin, himself disposed of in the new cabinet, has already written to Ms Rudd and asked her to see me.  As of today, CLEAR represents nearly 700,000 registered supporters, equivalent to the electorate in more than eight parliamentary constituencies, so I think she has a good reason to give me a few minutes.  I will continue to press for a meeting until she or one of her junior ministers agrees to see me.

It can only help that I am now a fully paid-up member of the Conservative Party.  I made this decision shortly after the EU referendum and I have also joined the Conservative Policy Forum which works to influence Conservative Party policy from the grassroots. I will be advancing the cause of medicinal cannabis and wider drugs policy reform as quickly and effectively as I can through the party’s established channels. Whether it is a short or long game, it has to get started now.

I do believe this is the best way forward for the cannabis campaign.  I will work from within the party of government to try and influence change.  It is more than likely that the Tories will be in power for the next 10 years, if not more. Now is the time to get involved, face our opposition, engage with those who have power.  Every other UK political party is in disarray.

When we relaunched the Legalise Cannabis Alliance as CLEAR Cannabis Law Reform in 2011, we brought a totally new, professional approach to the campaign.  Others have followed and there is now a significant group that understands how to use professional lobbying techniques.  The greatest achievement of this has been to get the Liberal Democrats involved and although there remains great resistance amongst party members in the shires, the leadership is very much onside.  Sadly, the party itself is as far away from power as it has ever been and, in my view, has swung widely off course in a futile and misguided effort to reverse the referendum result.  Such whimsical strategies have always been the LibDems’ problem.  Unless a political revolution suddenly makes Corbyn a serious contender then there will be no other party in power but the Tories. This is where we must invest time, effort and all our resources.  We must understand how to turn Tory aims, ambitions and viewpoints to our advantage.  Which arguments will work and how do we get them across?

mcte thumbnail fcAlthough we now have a more professional campaign and several individuals with real ability, now is not the time to revert to talking amongst ourselves.  Conferences, meetings, documentary films and events are all very well but they almost exclusively preach to the choir.  Just like the demos and protests that have at last ebbed away, they make those involved feel good and they ramp up morale but they do little to create change.   This is no way to make progress.  I will ensure that CLEAR is on the front line.  It is those who oppose us that we need to be talking to, not those who already agree with us.

Professor Mike Barnes

Professor Mike Barnes

At the same time, specifically on medicinal cannabis, our focus must be on the medical profession. We published ‘Medicinal Cannabis:The Evidence’ just over a year ago and it has added real credibility to the campaign.  In a few weeks when the APPG for Drug Policy Reform publishes its report on medicinal cannabis, Professor Mike Barnes will release his own review of current evidence and it will become the definitive work on the subject.  CLEAR will be taking this to GPs all over the country, to the Royal Colleges and particularly to those working in pain management. We already know that thousands of doctors endorse their patients’ use of cannabis for chronic pain, it is time to bring this out of the closet. Doctors and nurses have literally been terrorised into keeping quiet about cannabis.  We have first hand knowledge of Home Office officials warning off doctors who have tried to assist their patients by prescribing Sativex off label or recommending Bedrocan.  This must stop.  We must equip the medical profession with the evidence it needs to be able to do the best by its patients.

I know many will be downhearted by this new government but change is always a good thing.  It offers us the opportunity to renew our campaign.  Most important, we must walk towards the enemy, not hide in our bunkers, fearful of their response.  All over the world, mainstream opinion is turning in favour of cannabis as medicine and wider drugs policy reform.  Now is the time to step forward, to do all we can to  educate and inform those who are still in the dark. I have set out above what CLEAR’s new strategy will be. Please join us. Become a member. Sign up here.  Your first duty?  Make an appointment to see your MP.  This is the most effective thing you can do.  We will publish new guidance in the next few days on how to prepare for and conduct these meetings.