08 May I Have Had The Most Terrible Post-Election Nightmare.

Julian Huppert, Norman Baker, Lynne Featherstone

Following the General Election of 7th May our principal allies on the Liberal Democrat benches have all lost their seats.

Quickly now, the government will be formed. No surprise that Theresa May has already been reappointed Home Secretary but who will the junior Home Office ministers be?

Brokenshire may leave for another department. He’s probably due for a promotion. It would be very good to see the back of him. Who will the Crime Prevention Minister be? Within that portfolio rests responsibility for drugs.

This is when the nightmare struck. Key candidates for Home Office ministers will be backbenchers who have sat on the Home Affairs Select Committee. I hardly dare write his name in case it puts ideas in Cameron’s mind – Michael Ellis.

Michael Ellis

Ellis is a hard line prohibitionist, anti-drugs, anti-liberty, anti-science, criminal barrister with a particular record of boorish behaviour during PMQs. He’s a junior barrister working out of chambers in Northampton and he thinks that his experience with a few scumbag dealers qualifies him to know all about drugs policy.

The idea is a nightmare. Cameron will see his increased number of seats as vindication of all past policies so he may well go further to the right. I hope I’m wrong. Perhaps we will get some young MP with a brain in his head and an eye for the free market economy that is blossoming in Colorado and elsewhere.

Let’s hope so.

There’s also the new members of the Home Affairs Select Committee. Who will they be? We need to get to know them and present our case.

We must re-design, re-target, re-focus and refine our campaign for our new audience – Tory ministers are our most important targets.

Our messages must be developed for Tory eyes. More focus on the free market, profit opportunities, public expenditure savings. And our tactics must work with Tories as well. There is even less room now for the self-defeating tactics of protest, civil disobedience and flaunting alternative lifestyles in a way that distracts from our very powerful arguments. Such tactics might cause a right-wing backlash now.

Instead of being self-obsessed, as so much of the cannabis campaign is, if we want to be effective we must see things through the eyes of our target audiences, look outward not in, recognise that preaching to the choir achieves little. It is people who don’t agree with our cause that we must talk to and it is to their standards that we must dress and behave if we want to influence them.

Now, more than ever before, we need to be smart about the way we campaign for cannabis law reform. We do have allies in the Tory party and the worldwide momentum continues to build.

A few adjustments on the tiller are necessary but we remain on course. Let’s just be sure we adjust our sails and our technique for the new weather.

Peter Reynolds