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Saturday, October 11, 2014

Another good reason why we need Liberal Democrats Ministers

The Independent illustrates perfectly why Liberal Democrats Minister have been pivotal in reining in the Tories as part of the coalition government as it reports that Theresa May is under mounting pressure over claims by a Home Office minister that the Conservatives had “suppressed” two reports into drug abuse because they could prove politically embarrassing.

They say that the Liberal Democrat, Norman Baker, who is the drugs minister, told The Independent last week that the documents are gathering dust despite being ready for publication since July. They add that there are concerns that the reports are being sat on because the department does not want to be seen to endorse less hardline drugs policies.

Mr. Baker has blamed the Conservatives for blocking the reports and accused our Coalition partners of playing politics with addicts’ lives:

Maryon Stewart, who founded the charity the Angelus Foundation to highlight the risks of legal highs after her daughter’s death, said she shared Mr Baker’s frustrations.

“Weeks and months have been wasted when we could have been getting to grips with educating young people and stopping these dangerous substances being sold on the high street,” she said.

Ms Stewart added: “It is just not acceptable there should be political posturing with one eye on the general election when the issue is safeguarding young people. These harmful and unpredictable substances can rob them of their mental well-being and even end their lives.”

Niamh Eastwood, the executive director of the drugs advice charity Release, called on the Home Office to release the research on drugs overseas as quickly as possible.

She said: “The countries they visited included Portugal, Uruguay, Netherlands and Denmark which arguably have a more pragmatic response to drug use.

“It could make a difference to look at policy overseas that works. There are alternatives worth exploring which could have better outcomes.”

She said she was “baffled” by the failure to release the research on legal highs as the Home Office had asked expert groups to submit evidence on the issue.

Danny Kushlick, spokesman for the Transform Drug Policy Foundation, said: “Both Tory and Labour governments have a long and shameful history of withholding drug policy analysis that contradicts the prohibitionist orthodoxy.

“Yet again they are playing power politics with the lives of ordinary people in order to maintain an illusion of safety and security. It is citizens’ right to see the evidence and it is the right of all of us to have policies that are genuinely effective, just and humane, and that provide health and security.”

Whatever you think about this issue surely it is better to have the evidence out there so we can have an informed public debate around this issue instead of hiding it away because it is politically inconvenient. Thank goodness we have ministers like Norman Baker who share that view.
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