Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

Posts Tagged ‘Tory

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.

Theresa May Is Not A Tory.

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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.

 

Why I Have Joined The Conservative Party.

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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.

Written by Peter Reynolds

June 30, 2016 at 9:37 am

After A Vote For Brexit We Cannot Have A Remainer For PM.

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Boris Johnson, Liam Fox, Andrea Leadsom

Boris Johnson, Liam Fox, Andrea Leadsom

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.

#NotTheresaMay

#NotTheresaMay

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.

Email To My MP On Conduct Of Tory MPs At PMQs.

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cameron smirk

From: Peter Reynolds
Sent: 09 March 2016 15:00
To: Oliver Letwin
Subject: Conduct of Tory MPs at PMQs

Dear Oliver,

The disgusting behaviour of your colleagues in the House today was shameful. They demean Parliament and our entire political system, not to mention the elected government and, most important of all, our nation.

The spectacle of these pompous buffoons conducting themselves in a manner that would be unacceptable from primary school children is just too much. It appalls me and, I am sure, all decent people throughout the UK. They are pigs rooting in a trough of self-indulgent hypocrisy. Each one of them could do with 24 hours in a cell to contemplate their behaviour which is far worse than some drunken yobbo vomiting in the gutter after a binge drinking session.

That all Cameron can do is smirk makes the whole matter worse. His failure to act makes him the most culpable oaf of all.

Please ensure that my views are communicated to the prime minister, your colleagues in cabinet and other Tory MPs.

This must stop.

Kind regards,

Peter Reynolds

Written by Peter Reynolds

March 9, 2016 at 3:13 pm

The Next Prime Minster Of The UK?

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Education Secretary Michael Gove speaks to delegates during the Conservative Conference 2013, held at Manchester Central

Michael Gove is a decent Tory, a man of principle, extraordinary intelligence and integrity.  He is also a master of the media and a man I would vote for.

His decision to campaign for the UK to leave the EU is the right one.  Cameron’s self-serving charade of negotiation is at last over.  Now we can get on with making the decision. It will be all scaremongering, fear and dire warnings from the ‘In’ campaign but in Michael Gove we have a leader who can inspire the nation towards the courageus and correct decision.

Sadly, he is the sort of man now rare in the Conservative Party but after the chaos and shameful equivocation of the Cameron years, Gove could be the man to rescue Britain.

His values are well demonstrated by the way he has dismantled the authoritarian and brutal jackboot rule imposed by Chris Grayling as Lord Chancellor at the ministry of justice but, in my view, he has a proud record in education as well.

Michael Gove, the libertarian, could be the man to persuade me away from the floundering Liberal Democrats. Now led by a quasi-socialist and more concerned with political correctness than liberalism, I am reluctant to renew my membership.  Get us out of the EU, replace Cameron with Gove and I will consider rejoining a liberal, one nation Tory party.

Written by Peter Reynolds

February 20, 2016 at 9:51 am

Corbyn Finally Cracks.

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corbyn shoot to kill

I welcome the breath of fresh air that Jeremy Corbyn has brought to British politics.  I was never going to vote for him in a million years but the subversion of our corrupt political and media establishment has been a tonic long overdue.

Eventually though his loony tendencies have got the better of him.  His weak and cowardly failure to support the use of lethal force against terrorist violence means he is done for.  He will go no further and that is a pity because he has now blown his chance of having any further serious influence because of one simply idiotic but unforgivable mistake.

I believe he has now rendered himself unfit for any high office.  We cannot have a leader of the opposition who equivocates about defending our nation and innocent people against violent attack.

There can be no question about this.  Any member of the police, army or security services who is authorised to carry a weapon and sees life threatened must shoot and shoot to kill.

There are two important principles here.  The first will be clear to anyone who has had any firearms training. If the threshold has passed where you are entitled to open fire then you must stop the target.  That means you aim for the centre and you tap twice or three times.  Misty-eyed ideas about wounding or disabling are for Hollywood.  Anything less than a certain stop is a failure of duty and/or skill.

The second principle is a legal one.  If lethal force is justified then anything less means it wasn’t.  When that moment arrives you have to take the decision and the shot in sure and certain knowledge that you are justified and that you can rely on full support for your actions.

Corbyn has now changed his position and recognised the self-evident truth.  It is too late though.  Such a failure in leadership, decisiveness or the ability properly to communicate what he meant is beyond redemption. I am sorry to see him go.

Now, Britain desperately needs someone to challenge the Tory oligarchy.  All those who failed to vote Liberal Democrat when they had the chance are to blame.  We had an excellent, sincere, honest and able set of experienced politicians who we threw on the scrapheap and gifted our country to tyrants.

Written by Peter Reynolds

November 17, 2015 at 2:38 pm