01 Jun Which Conservative Leadership Candidate Has The Intelligence And Courage To Legalise Cannabis?
There are a host of strong, evidence-based reasons why legalising cannabis is a very good idea. It’s also an idea that fits perfectly with Tory principles of free enterprise, small government and fighting crime. In private, most politicians now realise this and that the present policy on cannabis causes far more harm than it prevents. But do any of the Conservative Leadership candidates have the vision to make this policy their own? It would be a massive vote winner at the next General Election and could rescue the party from its terminal decline into old age.
Dominic Raab. He probably understands the evidence well but may feel this is just too controversial a policy to help him overcome concerns about his relative youth and lack of experience. It would do wonders for his brand though and, on a good day, he probably does have the courage.
Esther McVey. Not a chance. If ever there was an anodyne, squeaky-clean, don’t rock the boat candidate for the twin set and pearls ladies at the local Conservative association, it’s Esther. Her candidacy simply isn’t strong enough to sustain such a radical policy.
Rory Stewart. With his background, no one should understand better the counterproductive nature of the war on drugs. He may have tried opium in Iran and he must have come across some the world’s finest hashish in Afghanistan. He has the knowledge and the vision but does he have the courage? His exciting campaign has the energy to take on this policy and make it his own.
Boris Johnson. Famously describing the idea that he had never taken drugs as “an outrageous slur”, Boris has confirmed that he has smoked “quite a few spliffs” and that “it was jolly nice”. But for all the bluster and bravado, he probably lacks the courage and this is a policy that requires diligent and patient explanation, so probably not something he’s well suited to.
Sajid Javid. Credit is due to the home secretary who finally moved on access to cannabis as medicine but this was probably more to do with asserting his new role in the cabinet. It is remarkable though that he achieved this while Theresa May was PM. Not only is she as regressive as they come on drugs policy, she also has a vested interest in keeping cannabis illegal due to her husband’s financial interest in GW Pharmaceuticals. Sadly though, Sajid is more likely to appeal to ‘hang ’em and flog ’em’ Tories rather than those with intelligence and courage.
Andrea Leadsom. Mrs Leadsom is notable as one of the few Tories who treated the late Paul Flynn and his cannabis campaigning with respect rather than contempt and ridicule but she’s unlikely to be the sort of leader who would take forward such a bold policy. Please prove us wrong Andrea!
Matt Hancock. Forever to be defined by his dishonest testimony on the Leveson Inquiry whilst culture secretary, Hancock doesn’t have the balls for anything radical. He’s already punching above his weight at the Department of Health and his loyalty to the Fleet Street barons is unlikely to persuade him to challenge one of their favourite topics for sensationalism.
Michael Gove. Although strong on intellect and fully capable of radical policy, Gove is in serious deficit on sincerity and integrity. With Mrs Gove (Sarah Vine) as a rampaging Daily Mail hack, probably writing about a cannabis crazed axe murderer right now, this is probably a step too far for him and his natural constituency is older people, certainly in attitude if not in years.
Jeremy Hunt. Definitely the choice for conservative Conservatives, Mr Hunt probably understands the arguments but sees this as a policy for the next generation. Undoubtedly a decent man, a one nation Tory, made of stronger stuff than first appears but unlikely to want to put his name to such a controversial policy.
Kit Malthouse. One would have hoped that Malthouse’s previous role as London Deputy Mayor for Policing would have given him an insight into drugs policy but it’s a subject he seems strangely silent on. He apparently has no record of any comment on the subject at all. So he may be a dark horse but almost certainly one that won’t be anywhere near the finishing line.
Mark Harper. As an ex-Home Office minister it’s unlikely that Harper is progressive on drugs policy and it certainly isn’t a subject that he has any record on. He’s unlikely to be in favour of cannabis law reform but also unlikely to get anywhere in the leadership race. Hardly a reformer, more of a classic Tory stuffed shirt.
James Cleverly. Clever by name but not too clever in practice, James has confessed to smoking weed in his youth but of course it was all a ‘dreadful mistake’. He showed a terrible lack of understanding as one of the MPs to eagerly jump on the bandwagon of ‘middle class cocaine users being responsible for knife crime’. Not much hope of any insight, intelligence or courage here.