April 7th 2015
When you stepped down from the council about 18 months ago I write a blog praising you for your intellect passion and commitment. I said that your departure was a loss to Liverpool Council and therefore a loss to Liverpool. I still believe that. There are not many capable councillors in Liverpool and you were certainly one of them.
However, I must say that I am both surprised and disappointed to hear the reasons for your departure and now the fact that you are coming back so quickly. As a Barrister you are well aware of the law about possession of Class A drugs and many other matters, although I think that you not a criminal barrister. However we all know that this is a serious matter and that those of us in a public position should not be ‘holier than thou’, but should lead from example where matters of this kind are concerned. I neither know nor want to know the circumstances in which you were caught – that is no-one’s business but your own. But having been caught you need to face the consequences of your actions.
If you are successful in May you will only have been off the council for about 18 months and I really do not think that this is an adequate time for a re-entry into public life. Perhaps a little more contrition should be shown. There are so many ways that you could serve the City without being a leading light in the political world or as a councillor.
Wouldn’t it have been better to have done those things and then come back on better terms after, say, 5 year? Saying “I am sorry and I am back” doesn’t seem to fit the bill!
Liberal Democrats will not be campaigning against you on this issue in Fazakerley or anywhere else. Many people have suggested to us that your police caution should be a campaign issue but we will not make it so. So this is the only comment that the Lib Dems in Liverpool will make on this issue.
So let’s move forward and see if together we can do something about the drugs situation in the City and the Country.
It’s ironic that at the moment the Liberal Democrats are coming under attack from the Labour Party with the allegation that we are soft on drugs issues and offences. We have clearly said that the war on drugs has failed. For 60 plus years we have been clamping down, arresting, jailing both in this country and supporting activity in far flung parts of the world where drugs are produced. All to little avail. Just like the prohibition of alcohol in the USA in the 1930s where ways were found around the system and shebeens and speak-easys’ flourished. In the end the US Government realised that it was a war that could not be won and decided instead to regulate and tax alcohol.
Liberal Democrats have not gone as far as that but what we have said is that if the way we are seeking to control drugs has not worked for so long we need an evidence based approach to drugs to try and find ways that will work. Almost half of all petty burglary and theft is caused by people seeking to continue their drugs habit. Much of serious crime is based around drug distribution routes. Ill-gotten gains are then often used either for other criminal ventures or are placed toe establish legitimate businesses partly to launder their drugs cash.
Saying we need an evidence based approach is not the same as throwing in the towel on drugs. My drug of choice is alcohol. Some people drink too much and harm themselves or others. Most do not. Regulation and taxation work to inhibit mass alcohol use. The war against binge drinking and over consumption is being won with young people a lot more careful about alcohol use than the preceding generation.
The war against tobacco is also being won in this and other developed countries. My father died 30 years ago at the age of 64 because he had been a heavy smoker so this is one that means a lot to me. Year by year regulations and tax mechanisms have changed to reduce tobacco users to less than 20% of the population when it used to be about 90% of men and 80% of women.
Your own personal experiences must surely tell you that the same cannot be said in the field of drugs with ingenious new legal highs being produced on a regular basis.
Will you join me to work to ensure that a new approach to drugs is pioneered in this City? After all we are the City that had the first Medical Officer of Health and where inside the Council we first proposed a ban on smoking in public [places which led to the national ban.
Together we could start a real debate in this city which would enable us to join up our services differently and which could act as a pilot for work that could spread throughout the Country.
If you, or anyone else is up for the challenge you know where to find me.
Regards as always,