Friday, April 25, 2008

Ken Livingstone on drugs

The media circus that is the London mayoral election becomes more and more like a Punch and Judy show and less like a meaningful policy debate each day (and yes, I actually sat through the Question Time debate last night). Still, the outcome will have little impact on drug policy development or implementation in London whoever wins, since the most important policy decisions are still made centrally (or by individual police forces), and anyway, there doesn't seem to be much to choose between Boris and Ken's positions on drugs, or that of the parties the y represent.

The issue has briefly grazed the news media this week with a rather barrel-scraping story in the Telegraph about how Boris had tried to embarrass Ken by associating the incumbent Mayor's apparent links to the Green party with the Green's drug policy (generally very sensible as it happens) - specifically the fact that it calls for the legal regulation of drugs. For some reason ecstasy was alighted on and the headline morphed, in classic lazy-journo style, into Livingstone in row over 'legalise ecstasy' call

I don't care if it's close, you re still both boring me

Challenged on what he is going to do about London's drug problems in the Sun
online this week, Ken is quick to note that:
'I am against the legalisation of drugs'

this despite not actually being asked about legalisation in any shape or form. Assuming Ken even penned the Sun online answer, he has arguably changed his tune, or at least his tone on this issue since an interview in 1997 when he said:

“I think all drugs should be decriminalised and addicts could register with their GP for them so organised crime could be driven out of drugs.”

IRC on VirginNet, Nov 12, 1997

His short answer in the Sun seems to differ from this position somewhat and is otherwise rather empty and unhelpful, as indeed have been the answers from all the three main candidates on the drugs issue (see here, page 7, for a deeply uninspiring summary compiled by LDAN).

Whilst Paddick comes out on top from the reformers perspective but this isn't terribly surprising as he came to prominence largely because of his progressive position on drugs in the first place and also because the representative of the 'big three' party with the most forward thinking drug policy by a long stretch. Like his party he has a sound position but doesn't choose to broadcast them, and anyway, he's evidently not in the running anyway with only about 9% on most polls.


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