Posts Tagged ‘Theresa May’
In a letter dated 15th August 2016, Amber Rudd, the new Home Secretary, has invited CLEAR to raise “any queries and concerns” about present UK policy on cannabis. This is the first time since 2006, with Charles Clarke, that the UK cannabis campaign has had any direct contact with a serving Home Secretary. It reflects the reality, now recognised in government, that changes in cannabis policy are imminent.
In recent months, there has been a manifest and significant change in attitudes within the Home Office. We have seen this through the process of obtaining a low THC cultivation licence for our partnership with GroGlo Research and Development. The response from the drugs licensing department has been enthusiastic. There has been no difficulty with our declared purpose of producing CBD oil for sale as a food supplement and we are now in detailed discussions on our application for a high THC licence, looking towards clinical trials for a medical product for chronic pain.
As soon as Theresa May announced that Amber Rudd would be heading up the Home Office, I contacted my MP, now Sir Oliver Letwin, thanks to Cameron’s resignation honours list. Although he will not openly support our campaign, in the past year or so he has been very helpful indeed, meeting with me on roughly a monthly basis and helping me navigate through the Conservative government. He has now put me in direct contact with Ms Rudd and I will be preparing a written submission as a preliminary to a face-to-face meeting.
In accordance with CLEAR policy, our first concern is how we can enable UK residents to gain access to medicinal cannabis on a doctor’s prescription. In practice that means Bedrocan products as there is presently no other source of prescribable, consistent, high-quality, herbal cannabis. I would expect that to change very soon though. Both Canada and Israel look like potential near-future sources. GW Pharmaceuticals is undoubtedly considering entering the market and our venture with GroGlo could shift gear depending on how quickly UK policy changes.
We will also be addressing the need for wider reform and a legally regulated market for adult consumers. Although medicinal access remains the top priority, there is no doubt that more overall harm is caused by prohibition of the recreational market. It is this that creates the £6 billon per annum criminal market which is the cause of all the social harms around cannabis. This will need to be handled much more carefully as, due to nearly a century of misinformation and media scaremongering, many people still retain great fear as to what legal cannabis will mean.
The one thing that has been very lacking in the cannabis campaign is pragmatism. Most campaigners for recreational use continue to be lost in a swirl of ‘free the weed’, teenage angst, outrage, revolution and delight in being a rebellious outlaw. That was until 2011 when CLEAR introduced a new approach which has led to more engagement with government than ever before. The emergence of the United Patients Alliance and now the End Our Pain campaign has helped this but these campaigns are focused only on medicinal use
The fact is that we need to work with Theresa May’s government and the anti-Tory tribalism that many still adopt is nothing but an obstacle to reform.
In addressing Ms Rudd, our overall strategy for wider reform will be:
1. A final separation from the ridiculous ‘free the weed’ movement and ‘stoner’ groups which are incapable of understanding how they are seen and despised by wider society.
2. Differentiation between medicinal use and the more controversial legalisation for adult, recreational use.
3. Shift public attention onto scientific and medical evidence rather than the very poor standard of media reporting.
4. End the fake policy that says ‘cannabis is dangerous therefore it must be regulated’. Educate that nearly all the harms around cannabis are caused by its prohibition, not by cannabis itself.
5. Emphasise the importance of harm reduction information, education about excessive use and essential investment in treatment for those who do suffer health harms.
6. Clarify that decriminalisation is no solution and is a dangerous option that would probably increase harm. The product needs to be sold within a properly regulated environment, careful that over-regulation would support a continuing criminal market.
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.
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?
Although 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.
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.
Reproduced in full below is a Daily Telegraph article by Jonathan Foreman which was pulled after pressure from Theresa May’s leadership campaign.
Theresa May Is A Great Self-Promoter, But A Terrible Home Secretary
In the run-up to the 2015 election, one of the handicaps David Cameron had to finesse was the fact that net migration to the UK was three times as high as he had promised it would be. Remarkably, none of the opprobrium this failure provoked brought forth the name of Theresa May, the cabinet minister actually entrusted with bringing migration down. Then, as now, it was as if the icy Home Secretary had a dark magic that warded off all critical scrutiny.
The fact that her lead role in this fiasco went unnoticed and unmentioned likely reflects Mrs May’s brilliant, all-consuming efforts to burnish her image with a view to become prime minister.
After all, Mrs May’s tenure as Home Secretary has been little better than disastrous – a succession of derelictions that has left Britain’s borders and coastline at least as insecure as they were in 2010, and which mean that British governments still rely on guesswork to estimate how many people enter and leave the country.
People find this hard to credit because she exudes determination and strength. Compared to many of her bland, flabby cabinet colleagues, she has real gravitas. And few who follow British politics would deny that she is a deadly political infighter. Indeed Theresa May is to Westminster what Cersei Lannister is to Westeros in Game of Thrones: no one who challenges her survives undamaged, while the welfare of the realm is of secondary concern.
Take the demoralised, underfunded UK Border Force. As the public discovered after a people-smugglers’ vessel ran aground in May, it has has only three cutters protecting 7,700 miles of coastline. Italy by contrast has 600 boats patrolling its 4722 miles.
Considering the impression Mrs May gives of being serious about security, it’s all the more astonishing that she has also allowed the UK’s small airfields to go unpatrolled – despite the vastly increased terrorist threat of the last few years, the onset of the migration crisis, and the emergence of smuggling networks that traffic people, drugs and arms.
Then there is the failure to establish exit checks at all the country’s airports and ports. These were supposed to be in place by March 2015.
Unfortunately the Border Force isn’t the only organisation under Mrs May’s control that is manifestly unfit for purpose. Recent years have seen a cavalcade of Home Office decisions about visas and deportations that suggest a department with a bizarre sense of the national interest.
The most infamous was the refusal of visas to Afghan interpreters who served with the British forces in Afghanistan – as Lord Guthrie said, a national shame.
Mrs May has kept so quiet about this and other scandals – such as the collapse of the eBorders IT system, at cost of almost a billion pounds – that you might imagine someone else was in charge the Home Office.
[It’s not just a matter of the odd error. Yvette Cooper pointed out in 2013 that despite Coalition rhetoric, the number of people refused entry to the UK had dropped by 50 per cent, the backlog of finding failed asylum seekers had gone up and the number of illegal immigrants deported had gone down.]
The reputation for effectiveness that Mrs May nevertheless enjoys derives from a single, endlessly cited event: the occasion in 2014 when she delivered some harsh truths to a conference of the Police Federation.
Unfortunately this was an isolated incident that, given the lack of any subsequent (or previous) effort at police reform, seems to have been intended mainly for public consumption.
In general Mrs May has avoided taking on the most serious institutional problems that afflict British policing. These include a disturbing willingness by some forces to let public relations concerns determine policing priorities, widespread overreliance on CCTV, the widespread propensity to massage crime numbers, the extreme risk aversion manifested during the London riots, and the preference for diverting police resources to patrol social media rather than the country’s streets.
There is also little evidence that Mrs May has paid much attention to the failure of several forces to protect vulnerable girls from the ethnically-motivated sexual predation seen in Rotherham and elsewhere. Nor, despite her supposed feminism, has Mrs May’s done much to ensure that girls from certain ethnic groups are protected from forced marriage and genital mutilation. But again, Mrs May has managed to evade criticism for this.
When considering her suitability for party leadership, it’s also worth remembering Mrs May’s notorious “lack of collegiality”.
David Laws’ memoirs paint a vivid picture of a secretive, rigid, controlling, even vengeful minister, so unpleasant to colleagues that a dread of meetings with her was something that cabinet members from both parties could bond over.
Unsurprisingly, Mrs May’s overwhelming concern with taking credit and deflecting blame made for a difficult working relationship with her department, just as her propensity for briefing the press against cabinet colleagues made her its most disliked member in two successive governments.
It is possible that Mrs May’s intimidating ruthlessness could make her the right person to negotiate with EU leaders. However, there’s little in her record to suggest she possesses either strong negotiation skills or the ability to win allies among other leaders, unlike Michael Gove, of whom David Laws wrote “it was possible to disagree with him but impossible to dislike him,”
It’s surely about time – and not too late – for conservatives to look behind Mrs May’s carefully-wrought image and consider if she really is the right person to lead the party and the country.
There’s a vast gulf between being effective in office, and being effective at promoting yourself; it’s not one that Theresa May has yet crossed.
Reproduced with kind permission of Jonathan Foreman
I would vote against Theresa May. She would be a disaster for Britain and for the Tory Party. Sadly, I will not have been a member long enough to vote in the leadership election.
Now, more than ever, we need to walk towards the enemy, not run away. The entrenched, bigoted, old-fashioned, anti-evidence faction of the Conservative Party, of which Theresa May is part, is the enemy of Britain and the enemy of a progressive, enlightened society. I will work from within the Tory Party to campaign for more rational, reasonable and responsible policies. We need to tackle the future head on and only from within the Conservative Party is there any realistic possibility of having meaningful influence.
I resigned from the Liberal Democrats shortly before the EU referendum because I believe its support for the remain campaign was a betrayal of fundamental values of liberalism and democracy. Support for the unelected, unaccountable oligarchs of the EU is the nemesis of the Liberal Democrats and Tim Farron’s subsequent hate speech, branding all who voted leave as ‘intolerant, closed-hearted, pessimistic and inward looking’ has moved his party’s talent beyond self-harm to political suicide.
Clearly, in my special interest area of drugs policy and particularly medicinal cannabis, the Conservatives, and particularly Ms May, have not been our allies. Yet another reason why I, and others, must now grit our teeth and get involved with the Tories. We will make no progress unless we do. We have to appeal to the libertarians, to those who value personal liberty and who believe in evidence-based policy, not prejudice.
The response of both remainers and the left to the Brexit vote has been appalling. Aside from Tim Farron’s conduct, the chattering classes, particularly the soft left which dominates the drugs policy debate, has been defeatist, bitter and negative. It will spend its time, as it always does, in endless circular discussions talking amongst itself, the same old faces, the same old ideas. Someone needs to take the fight to where the real battle is.
I recognise that my decision to join the Tories will be difficult for many to understand. It will not be an easy path but the drugs policy and cannabis campaign needs someone to lead it into battle, to take on the establishment, to engage with and change minds.
The Labour Party is unelectable and if it survives at all, it will never see power again for many years. All other parties are irrelevant. There is no other route to power in the UK except through the Conservative Party.
It’s obvious isn’t it? It would be an insult to the electorate and a subversion of the democratic vote if our new PM was not a committed supporter of Brexit.
The most disastrous choice the Tory party could make would be Theresa May. Not only is she a remainer who hid away during the referendum campaign and didn’t have the courage to stand up even for her own side, she is also a deeply divisive figure. All Home Secretaries are unpopular but few are reviled like Theresa May. She is intolerant, authoritarian, illiberal (some Tories might like that but not the rest of the country) and she has a diabolical record of incompetence at the Home Office.
She has presided over the complete collapse of our border controls. Even despite the incompetent policy making on immigration, Theresa May has allowed our borders to fall into uselessness. On the other hand she has also been responsible for some of the most cruel, inhumane treatment of genuine refugees.
She was responsible for the disaster at the Passport Office and for other policies which prevent the partners of British citizens living here unless they earn a minimum amount. These are un-British, cruel and spiteful policies that seem to characterise the mindset of Ms May. She would be a disaster for Britain and for the Tory party.
Stephen Crabb is an interesting, young, up and coming politician – and he’s Welsh (which is always an advantage in my book) but he’s a remainer. He cannot be our next PM. Neither can Jeremy Hunt, Nicky Morgan, Justine Greening, Robert Buckland or any other remainer who puts their name forward. It would be an insult, the greatest disrespect to the electorate.
Personally I regret that Michael Gove is not standing. Other than his support for the war criminal state of Israel which I deplore, he is, in my view, one of the bright lights in Parliament: fiercely intelligent, a reformer and a skilled media spokesperson. I suspect he may be keeping his powder dry for the next opportunity.
I believe there are only three possible candidates for our next PM: Boris Johnson, Liam Fox or Andrea Leadsom.