Thursday, 8 May 2008

Making it up as they go along...

Question: What does the Labour group on Brighton and Hove Council have in common with the Labour Government?

Answer: they both make it up as they go along, ignoring independent expert advice whenever it suits them.

Locally, Labour councillors ignored the Independent Remunerations Panel and voted to give themselves a fat pay rise: doubling the 'special payments' to their two deputy leaders and shelling out more than £2,000 for a Labour member of the city's Arts Commission, which only meets four times a year (that's more than £500 a meeting!)

Nationally, The Government has said it will ignore the findings of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs and reclassify cannabis from a 'Class C' to a 'Class B' drug.

The council recognises some of the dangers of cannabis use but doesn't think a regime of five-year prison terms is the right way to prevent these ill-effects.

But Government ministers are insisting on ignoring the scientists and making it up as they go along.

Does anyone remember the original debate over downgrading the classification of cannabis? It had nothing to do with the dangers of cannabis, or recognising that the harm it causes is so much smaller than that caused by alcohol. Rather, it was based on the irrefutable logic that the criminalisation of cannabis was hoovering up police resources and not actually working in terms of preventing cannabis-related harm.

But the tabloids have run scare story after scare story about cannabis use, and been baying for tougher punishments for smokers - a battered and bruised Labour Party is panicking, and letting them set the agenda in the name of Middle England.

So why on earth did we bother having an independent review in the first place? And don't we care about wasting police time anymore?

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