06 Sep An Evening With Professor Nutt

Yesterday I travelled to Bristol, to Hewlett Packard’s huge complex near the airport. David Nutt was giving his lecture “Science and non-science in alcohol and drugs policy”, an HP Labs event.

Last time I was here was more than 20 years ago when I was writing HP’s 1990 UK annual report. I thought then that HP was a model of how big business should be and it really is. It is an extraordinary company, founded by two hippies in a garage, now an enormous international business but still with the vision and courage to promote an event like this.

HP’s generosity at entirely free event started with tea, coffee and biscuits and then I bagged my seat in the front row and found myself sitting next to Mrs Nutt. She was surrounded by her grown up children and we had a brief chat about the episode when her son was harassed and abused by the Daily Mail after he was photographed smoking a roll up.

I’ve seen the lecture before but I wasn’t for one minute sorry to see it again. David has a laid back, gently humorous style. His lambasting of politicians, particularly Alan Johnson and Jacqui Smith, gave me the perfect opportunity when questions came.

“I’m a politician…”, I piped up and then I introduced myself and announced that I am standing as a candidate in the Corby by-election. I asked David to expound on his recent statement that a legally regulated cannabis market could reduce alcohol consumption by up to 25%.

HP’s generosity extended into drinks and canapes afterwards and they agreed that I could distribute a few hundred CLEAR leaflets around the audience. David and I discussed the Corby by-election, where at least five of the eleven candidates are standing on drug policy reform and I have invited him to speak at a cross party event in the town in the run up to the election. Whether he will accept this invitation I don’t yet know but it is clearly an issue that warrants such an event in Corby. CLEAR is taking the initiative in organising a public meeting on the subject.

After a few drinks, savoury bits on sticks and a lot of chatting it was time to drive home. I was truly amazed by how many people came and wished me well with the election. There is a huge groundswell of public opinion in Britain that will no longer put up with the lies and deceit we’ve been fed by successive governments. Roll on Corby!