Thursday, 31 July 2008

Sorry Tom, but I'm a liberal and I don't like banning things

Fresh from Julia Goldsworthy's support for illiberal curbs on the freedom of law abiding young people, I have today received an email from Tom Brake asking for my support for a facebook group seeking to ban the sale of cannabis seeds.

The debate about drug legalisation is a worthy one. I take a particular view on it but I understand why others take a different view and am happy to debate with them. (However, I would have thought that an MP would have contemplated the Party's own policy on this before setting out on this course).

However, what riled me about Tom's email were these words:

"I am campaigning to close a shop in my constituency, which has opened close to a local primary school and is selling drug paraphernalia and cannabis seed. A law change is required to overcome this loophole in the law. Please support the campaign. Tom".

I think it is wrong that a Lib Dem MP is campaigning to close this store unless it is guilty of consistent breaches of the law. To the best of my knowledge it isn't.

If they are selling 'drug paraphernalia' (presumably pipes and papers) then so be it. Selling them is not illegal and much of Camden Market does the same. Ditto the sale of hemp seed. I'm not so naive as to think that people who shop there will be wanting to weave their own help cloth, but so what if the shop is selling stuff wanted by cannabis users. Are we really going to ban the sale of chocolate bars and muffins simply because they might be craved by people with the munchies? Roll ups will be banned because people might use the rizlas for a joint.

And as for the siting of the shop near a school - are they really going to invite the hassle caused by selling to primary school aged children? Do we ban off-licences and tobacco sales near schools? Not in my experience. I doubt very much that the primary school age pupils spend a lot of time in the shop but, if they do, then it is for parents and teachers to suggest that they shouldn't. If the shop wants to set its own age limit for customers then that is up to them as an additional step.

Liberals should not be trying to ban things - even if it makes us popular with some of our residents. So I'm sorry Tom., but I won't be supporting your Facebook Group.


Tristan said...

And he says he's 'Very Liberal' on his facebook profile. I think he needs a dictionary.

Is there an opposition facebook group?

Bernard Salmon said...

Absolutely right, and this is also an issue I've blogged about before as well. Tom Brake is not acting in any way I recognise as being liberal on this issue.

Steph Ashley said...

Oh no, this sucks. I heard about Tom Brake's ten minute rule bill about this, and I thought that maybe he was trying to placate his local electorate (them being up in arms about this one particular local shop) while hoping nobody would notice the story outside his own Focus leaflets and so the inconsistency with party policy would be overlooked.

It seems I was wrong and he genuinely is on this crusade. I'm pretty disappointed. Frankly as you say, the paraphernalia for drug use is on sale all over the place - does anyone really buy king size papers so they can make a reaaallly long rollie?

dobson said...

Even a stoner can tell this is pandering.

Susan said...

I must admit I was astounded to be asked to join... Banning and Liberal really do not go together!

Lee Griffin said...

Unfortunately it seems banning and liberal *do* go together, and not always in the productive way...rarely in fact. Whether it is the european lib dem's calling for the ban on patio heaters, this latest nonsense, or even faux banning with the likes of transport policy setting out to disadvantage those that choose to use their cars in a fuel efficient manner.

James Schneider said...

what a delight to be able to say hear hear to both the post and all six commentators. Lets keep Liberalism liberal.