Because criminalisation doesn’t work……

Unashamedly I am continuing a series of posts looking at the Politics Home polls on various issues. The latest one is drugs and this is yet another area where our party policy suffers from the tyranny of  ‘realpoltik’. While our policy is defiantly an improvement on other parties in moving the emphasis away from criminalising users it remains shy of saying what is needed; decriminalisation of possession of drugs where the only clear intent is to use and not to deal.  The first thing we need to be clear about in this debate is the distinction between decriminalisation and legalisation; with the former being the ending of prosecution for the offence and legalisation allowing the actual promotion.

One of the chief flaws in this poll is that it does not explore the differences nor allow those who support decriminalisation to express a view and this might explain why as many Conservatives (19%) as Liberal Democrats 19% support full legalisation.  The totals show that there is a growing recognition that the ‘war on drugs’ approach simply does not work with 52% supporting a measure of legalisation.  Offered that option the poll might have looked different but sadly that is only speculation.

Across the parties it is unsurprising that Liberal Democrat supporters (40%) are the strongest advocates in favour of a reduced as opposed to full measure of legalisation with them being followed by those with no party affiliation on 37% and 36% of Labour supporters. Only 52% of Conservative supporters support the no change position leaving a significant minority (45%) to want some change; something that perhaps shows that not all Conservative supporters instincts are going to be in line with those of the frothy-mouthed, bloodshot eyes new intake of highly socially Conservative MP’s.


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2 responses to “Because criminalisation doesn’t work……”

  1. jim jay says :

    I suspect whilst there are Tories and Lib Dems that support full legalisation they may well do so for quite different reasons.

    I’m imagining (with no evidence) the libatarian wing of Tory party for a laissez faire approach – and if you get mucked up, so be it. Let’s call them the coke snorters.

    Conversely I suspect LDems in favour are likely to come at it from a ‘least social harm’ angle (which is also my own) where legalisation allows for regulation and proper standards whilst removing the power of criminal gangs.

    Could be wrong but that’s my theory.


  2. darrellgoodliffe says :


    True, I would imagine that a good number of the 19% are libertarians but also I think that it would have been good to offer the decriminalisation option to see the difference it produced in the poll.

    I think the interesting debate here would be decriminalisation v legalisation.


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