drugs

Kiran Stacey

The Lib Dems will publish on Monday the motions they are going to debate at their autumn conference in Birmingham. But today they have told us about one: calling for a panel to look at decriminalising possession of all illegal drugs.

The plans are backed by the party’s Glasgow south branch, and are already being supported by some backbenchers. They also appear to have the tacit approval of Nick Clegg, who is said to be “watching the motion with interest”.

Clegg may calculate that such a motion could provide an effective release valve for members frustrated at having to compromise their liberalism because of being in government with the Tories.

But it has the chance to escalate into a problem for the party. In essence, it backs a decriminalisation of all drugs, including class-As and a network of “heroin maintenance clinics for the most problematic and vulnerable heroin users”.

Julian Huppert, who is well respected in the party, says: 

Jim Pickard

There was something faintly depressing – as well as predictable – at the comments from David Cameron’s spokesman this morning ruling out any review of Britain’s drugs policy. And at Ed Miliband taking a similar stance.

The issue has reared its head once again after former cabinet minister Bob Ainsworth called for legalisation. But is such a controversial subject that party leaders fear they cannot even raise the possibility without being mauled by critics.