Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

Posts Tagged ‘drugs policy

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.

 

The Best Election Outcome Is A Tory Government With A Weakened Theresa May.

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I cannot vote to support Theresa May.  I could vote for my local Conservative candidate but Mrs May has made this election all about herself and she is not a true Tory.

Although I shall remain a member of the Conservative Party, I shall not vote for it.  If voting tactically was relevant in my constituency I would have no difficulty in voting Labour or Liberal Democrat in order to weaken Mrs May but it would make no difference, so I shall abstain by spoiling my ballot paper.

Theresa May is not a true Tory.  the most important, fundamental Conservative principles are individual liberty, individual responsibility and small government.  Mrs May is in opposition to these values, she is an Authoritarian Bureaucrat.  All her polices are about a bigger state, interfering more and more with our freedoms, micro-managing every aspect of our lives, just as she did at the Home Office.  Yet every single one of her policies has been a failure.

Immigration has been a disaster.  Since 2010 she has failed entirely to control this most divisive of issues.  It is at the root of Brexit and behind a large part of the conflict in our society.  Mrs May has simultaneously allowed us to be ‘swamped’ by economic migrants and implemented some of the most horrific human rights violations against genuine refugees.  Her failure to provide sanctuary for those fleeing Syria brings everlasting shame on Britain.

Policing is such a disaster that it is impossible to get any attention to a burglary, car theft, online fraud or harassment. Almost any crime short of being stabbed in the street is ignored.  Meanwhile the division between police and the community grows ever wider. We never see policemen except speeding by in a car.  The police canteen culture and a corrupt complaints system has encouraged terrible negligence, failing to protect children against grooming, failing to create a safe environment where young people do not feel they have to carry knives.

Drugs policy is a scandal with the highest ever rate of deaths by overdoses, stupid legislation like the Psychoactive Substances Act which has massively increased the harm of Spice.  The ban on khat promoting crime and racial division for a policy that has nothing to do with evidence.  The deeply cruel and anti-science policy of denying access to medicinal cannabis and the idiocy of gifting the wider £6 billion cannabis market to organised crime.

Remember the Passport Office chaos? Remember the racist billboard vans telling migrants to go home? Remember the deal advising Saudi Arabia, a brutal, oppressive, medieval regime, on policing? Remember Mrs May banning the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women from visiting Yarl’s Wood Detention Centre? The appalling rejection of asylum claims from Afghan heroes who had acted as interpreters for British troops? The proliferation of CCTV, making us the most snooped-on people in a so-called democracy in the world?  The repeated, insistent bullying and intolerant imposition of the Snooper’s Charter despite opposition from all sections of our society?  The exclusion of controversial speakers from entering the UK on no grounds except that Mrs May disagrees with them? The total, unmitigated, inexcusable disaster that is everything to do with the Border Force?

The triggering of Article 5o is the only successful policy that Theresa May has had anything to do with.  It made best use of her talents: we needed someone stubborn, obstinate, pig-headed, intransigent and incapable of listening to get that job done in the face of the anti-democratic Remainers.

If the Liberal Democrats didn’t have this stupid, illiberal, anti-democratic policy on Brexit I’d be voting for them on 8th June.  However, there is no party other than the Conservatives with a credible set of policies to govern Britain – but Mrs May is the weakest link.  She needs to step aside after the election and make way for a real leader, someone who actually believes in Brexit, in Britain as a world leader in liberty, justice and freedom.

VIDEO. Peter Reynolds Speaks At The Oxford Union On Drugs Policy.

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‘This House Would Say No To Drugs’, The Oxford Union, 16th February 2017.

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Peter Reynolds, Stephen DeAngelo

On Thursday, 16th February 2017, the Oxford Union held a debate on the motion ‘This House Would Say No To Drugs’.

thwsntd-graphicI was honoured to be invited to speak against the motion in the august company of Paul Hayes and Stephen DeAngelo. Speaking for the motion were Andrew Ng, Assistant Commissioner Patricia Gallan and Shaun Attwood.

We successfully defeated the motion by approximately 120 votes to 90.  A video of the debate will be released shortly.  I reproduce my speech below.

“Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.”

These are the words of Harry Anslinger, who in 1930 was appointed the first ever commissioner of the US Federal Bureau of Narcotics. 

And this is the exactly same standard of argument and evidence that we have in favour of drug prohibition today.

Anslinger went on to start the war on drugs 40 years before Richard Nixon invented the term.  His anti-cannabis crusade was based on racism, the suggestion that it caused madness, violence and depravity – yes, the same scare stories, myths and deceit that we still see published every day in the pages of the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph.  Indeed, exactly the same nonsense which every home secretary continues to trot out and on which our present prime minister bases UK drugs policy.

Don’t be in any doubt about it, the Home Office, under successive governments, has been engaged in the systematic deception of the British public.  It misleads, misinforms and repeatedly publishes bare faced lies about drugs and drugs policy and subverts every effort towards reform advocated by more enlightened politicians. 

In 2013, according to Norman Baker and Nick Clegg, Theresa May tried to falsify the international comparators report which showed that across the world harsh penalties make no difference to the level of drug use.  The facts simply don’t fit with her ideology.

And this idiocy pervades our society.  It is reflected in this motion which I oppose.  The premise of ‘This House Would Say No to Drugs’ is false from the very start.  It’s preposterous! We all say yes to drugs, every day, inevitably, in cocktails of medicines and recreational stimulants, in food, drink, in endogenous highs released through exercise and emotions, repeatedly, regularly, all of us, without exception, do drugs.

That our governments have seen fit to draw arbitrary lines as to which drugs are acceptable and which are not, which drugs that we can celebrate and which we will be locked up for, has nothing to do with evidence, science and, least of all, absolutely nothing to do with how harmful or dangerous they are. They are based on prejudice and thinking in 2017 that has advanced no further than Harry Anslinger in 1930. 

Sometimes these prejudices have strange echoes in the past. Coffee was banned in Mecca in 1511, as it was believed to stimulate radical thinking – the governor thought it might unite his opposition. What does that remind you of?

Often these lines are not arbitrary, they are based on vested interests. In 1777, Frederick the Great of Prussia also tried to ban coffee. He argued it interfered with the country’s beer consumption.  Before the first International Opium Convention in 1925 Egyptian cotton farmers successfully lobbied for cannabis to be banned as they feared the superior fibre crop of hemp.  Back to Harry Anslinger and he was in league with the timber barons who greatly feared the far better option of using hemp to make paper and the fledging oil industry which had just invented nylon, a synthetic alternative to the job that hemp fibre had done for thousands of years.  When Henry Ford invented the Model T he designed it to run on ethanol produced from hemp. He planted hemp on his own land for the purpose.  It’s no conspiracy theory to argue that the entire oil industry in predicated on the prohibition of cannabis, it’s just good, solid evidence.

Today, in the UK, prohibition of much safer substances like cannabis and MDMA is enforced to preserve the monopoly of legal recreational drugs that belongs to the alcohol industry – a drug that is at least a dangerous as heroin and causes far more misery and death in our society.  It’s no surprise when the UK alcohol industry spends £800 million every year on advertising that the media which enjoys that income supports the alcohol monopoly.

As if we didn’t have the clearest possible lesson from the prohibition of alcohol which gave birth to organised crime and demonstrated beyond any doubt that prohibition never works, it just makes the problem worse.  

The UK is more backwards, more disgraced, more shamed by a drugs policy that causes far more harm than it prevents, than almost any other first world country.

Prohibition is a fundamentally immoral policy.  If you remember one thing that I say today, please make it this. It sets law enforcement against the communities it is supposed to protect.  Being a police office is a noble and honourable calling.  Every society needs policing but drugs policy has perverted this profession.  The demand for what are deemed illicit drugs comes from society but instead of protecting us from danger, police action increases the dangers we are subject to.   The harder the police clamp down, the more the price of drugs rises, the more unscrupulous and violent the unregulated criminal trade becomes and the more contaminated, more concentrated and more dangerous are the drugs themselves.

In Amsterdam, there is no problem with Spice, the synthetic cannabinoid that is ravaging our streets and British prisons at present.  In sane, civilised society like California, Colorado or Washington, where adults can access safe, properly regulated cannabis, there is no Spice problem like we have in the UK. This disgusting, horrible product is the direct responsibility of the politicians who continue to pursue our ignorant anti-cannabis policy.  It is just one example of the great, immoral evil that prohibition causes.  And I ask you, if this crazy policy of prohibition cannot be enforced in prisons, then how do we expect to enforce it in wider society?

It is prohibition and drugs policy based on prejudice that destroys police and community relations.  It is current policy that means 70% of all acquisitive crime is caused by drug addiction – for which we send sick and poorly people to jail where they find easy access to more and nastier drugs.  This is the real madness that drugs cause.  It is the madness of deranged government ministers and their refusal to consider evidence or to resist pressure from their masters in Fleet Street.

What we need to do is say yes to a drugs policy that is designed to reduce harm and protect our communities.  Alcohol is promoted and so easily available as to be ridiculous, in every other shop on the high street, yet we control the access of children to alcohol and tobacco quite effectively.  But we abandon them to the street weed dealer who sells them muck grown by other children who have been trafficked from overseas and locked in hidden farms which are dangerous fire risks.  This is the shameful reality that our policies have produced.

Doctors freely prescribe anti-depressants, tranquilisers, highly toxic opioids such as tramadol, weird drugs for pain and epilepsy like gabapentin, which we don’t really understand at all.  Yet it is a criminal offence for a doctor to prescribe cannabis, a remedy that mankind has used safely and effectively for at least 10,000 years.

We mislead and misinform.  We encourage young people to go out and drink, yet we make ecstasy, MDMA, a drug far safer than even paracetamol, a class A substance , and we threaten people with years in jail just for handing a single dose to a friend.  It’s estimated that between two and ten million doses of MDMA are taken every weekend in the UK and we get about 50 deaths a year.  200 people die every year from paracetamol.  How much safer would MDMA be if the product was regulated with known strength and purity? It would probably be virtually harmless.

Now everyone is a victim of this drug war propaganda and the terrible effects of prohibition. Politicians, police officers, social workers, mothers and fathers have all been drenched in this propaganda from birth.  Many sincerely believe the rubbish they have been fed and they do all they can to pass on misguided ideas to the next generation.

We need to grow up, get a grip and drag Britain out of the dark ages. Drugs can cause harm but British drugs policy is a scourge on our society.  It damages the lives of millions and costs us billions.  Please oppose the motion, saying no to drugs is a nonsense.  Let’s say yes to a rational drugs policy.

Theresa May Is Not A Tory, She’s An Authoritarian Bureaucrat.

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LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 17: British Prime Minister Theresa May delivers her keynote speech on Brexit at Lancaster House on January 17, 2017 in London, England. It is widely expected that she will announce that the UK is to leave the single market. (Photo by Kirsty Wigglesworth - WPA Pool /Getty Images)

LONDON, ENGLAND – JANUARY 17: British Prime Minister Theresa May delivers her keynote speech on Brexit at Lancaster House on January 17, 2017.

At the beginning of last week, Tuesday, 17th January, Theresa May finally made clear that leaving the EU means leaving the single market.  It also means leaving the customs union because without doing so it will be impossible to negotiate independent trade agreements.

This has been obvious all along.  Before the referendum, campaigners on both sides were clear. The idea that there was any doubt about it was an invention of the soft-left Blairites at the BBC, eagerly supported by the delusional Tim Farron and his party, now the most illiberal, anti-democratic party in Britain.

I’m unhappy that Ms May didn’t make this clarification a lot sooner but of course she was a Remainer and as David Cameron said, it would be foolish to have a captain to steer the ship in a direction he or she didn’t want to go.

I am generally very unhappy about Ms May’s style of government.  It is secretive, authoritarian, dismissive of public opinion and everything is played very close to her chest and as much behind closed doors as she can get away with.  Her dictatorial, micro-managerial style at the Home Office is continuing in her role as PM and I believe it is unsustainable for the leader of our country. We need far more openness, interest in the people and a desire to inform rather than to conceal.

But the shocker for me was her repudiation of central Conservative philosophy.  She derided the ‘cult of individualism’ as she put it.

DF-SC-85-12090Ms May, the Tory Party is all about the individual.  It is  about individual liberty and individual responsibility.  Individualism is the very essence of why I am a Tory.

Then today the brazen cover up about the Trident missile launch which was kept secret from Parliament, even as it was debating the renewal of our nuclear deterrent. Her secretive, fundamentally dishonest approach was revealed as she dodged Andrew Marr’s questions again and again.  It is obvious that she did know about the incident, chose to keep it secret from both Parliament and the electorate and refused to be honest about it when questioned.

I am , of course, reminded about her attempt to falsify and cover up the International Comparators report on drugs policy which showed clearly that harsher criminal sanctions have no affect at all on drugs use.  This didn’t fit with her prohibitionist prejudice and she wanted it changed to deceive Parliament and the electorate.

I have given Theresa May a more than adequate, even generous, chance to prove herself, particularly given my knowledge of her conduct as Home Secretary.  She was the right compromise candidate at the time but now the Conservative Party needs to get rid of her and appoint someone with leadership ability.  I was impressed with her initial words about inclusiveness and a country that ‘works for everyone’ but I see now that the leopard has not changed its spots.  She is authoritarian, illiberal, secretive, anti-democratic and, most importantly, dishonest.

Theresa May is no Tory and she is not fit to be prime minister.

 

What Exactly Is Theresa May Doing?

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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?

 

 

Cruel And Irresponsible Response from UK Government To Parliamentary Report On Medicinal Cannabis.

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Unsurprisingly perhaps, the response to the recent call from MPs and peers to legalise cannabis for medicinal use has come straight from the top.  Theresa May’s longstanding reputation as a denier of science and evidence on drugs policy is reinforced by her peremptory dismissal of the expert report.  It seems that, at least in the short term, the UK government is sticking by a policy that is discredited, ridiculous and deeply cruel.

It fell to Sarah Newton MP, minister of state at the Home Office, to respond to a parliamentary question from Roger Godsiff, Labour MP for Birmingham, Hall Green.

Roger Godsiff MP

Roger Godsiff MP

“To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if she will respond to the recommendations of the report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Drug Policy Reform Accessing Medicinal Cannabis: Meeting Patients’ Needs, published in September 2016.”

 

Sarah Newton MP

Sarah Newton MP

“The Prime Minister responded to the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Drug Policy Reform’s report ‘Accessing Medicinal Cannabis: Meeting Patients’ Needs’ on the 27 October.

Cannabis is controlled as a Class B drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and, in its raw form, currently has no recognised medicinal benefits in the UK. It is therefore listed as a Schedule 1 drug under the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001.

It is important that all medicines containing controlled drugs are thoroughly trialled to ensure they meet rigorous standards so that doctors and patients are sure of their efficacy and safety. To do otherwise for cannabis would amount to a circumvention of the clearly established and necessary regime for approving medicines in the UK.”

In other words, this is nothing more than a re-statement of the same position that the UK government has held since 1971 when legal access to medicinal cannabis was halted.  Quite clearly the government has given no consideration at all to the vast amount of scientific evidence and international experience that has accumulated over the last 45 years.  The latest report which took nine months to produce, took evidence from over 600 witnesses and included a review of over 20,000 scientific studies is simply cast aside.  To be honest, I doubt whether it has even been read by Ms May or anyone in the Home Office or Department of Health. This is the standard that now prevails in the UK – government of the people by an unaccountable, out-of-touch, unresponsive cabal of individuals elected by a deeply flawed system that gives democracy a bad name.

On the face of it, the claim that all medicines must be thoroughly trialled seems plausible – but it is not.  It is a misleading half-truth clearly intended to squash the call for access to medicinal cannabis by painting a false picture.

Doctors are allowed to prescribe any medicine, licensed or unlicensed, as they see fit, based on their own judgement. But prescribing of cannabis is specifically prohibited by Statutory Instrument despite the scientific consensus that it is far less dangerous than many, probably most commonly prescribed medicines.

So it’s not a level playing field.  It’s a policy that is based on prejudice and scaremongering about recreational use of cannabis.  Ms Newton’s answer is at best disingenuous but then she probably doesn’t even realise that herself.  For many years Home Office policy has been systematically to mislead and misinform on cannabis and evidently under Ms May’s successor, Amber Rudd MP, such dishonesty continues.

Theresa May MP

Theresa May MP

Something will eventually force the government’s hand to change its absurd position on cannabis. Sadly the very last consideration will be scientific evidence or the will of the people. Such factors hold no sway with  UK governments. Only when enough of the political elite open their eyes and examine their conscience, or some key individuals or their family members, experience the need for medicinal cannabis will change become possible.  Alternatively, political upheaval may present an opportunity. The Liberal Democrats were too cowardly, weak and concerned with building their personal careers when in coalition to advance the cause they now so bravely advocate.  Perhaps the SNP, with 56 MPs, all in favour of medicinal cannabis may be our best hope.

Sarah Newton is merely a puppet of the Home Office bureaucracy.  Theresa May’s mendacious position on all aspects of drugs policy is well established and she is as stubborn and bigoted as they come on such matters.  Only when she, in person, is subject to sufficient pressure will this cruel, ignorant and hateful policy change.