10 Feb Why CLEAR Will No Longer Be A Political Party.

Voting for cannabis

Standing as a fringe candidate in elections is pointless

At the recent CLEAR Executive Committee meeting a resolution was passed calling for a change in our status from a political party to a lobby group.

This will require the adoption of a revised constitution and a referendum of members will be held shortly in order to vote on a proposed draft.

We want to make this change because the idea of single issue parties standing for Parliament is out of date and ineffective. More importantly, on the issue of cannabis law reform, at least two major parties, the Liberal Democrats and the Greens, now have policies which closely resemble our own. Even UKIP has mooted drugs policies which are far more progressive than the dinosaur Tories. And it has to be said that the Labour Party is simply a disgrace on drugs policy – it doesn’t have one.

A vote for any single issue cannabis law reform party is, therefore, a wasted vote. At best it was only ever a protest vote because no constituency is ever going to elect a cannabis candidate. It would be foolish to do so when there are so many other issues which our failing democracy needs to deal with. In the past, there was some publicity to be gained from fielding candidates but even that has changed. The media no longer has to list all candidates. TV and radio stations just refer to a website. Electoral Commission rules about balance are simply flouted. Our experience of the Corby by-election in 2012 was that the smaller parties were deliberately excluded from hustings meetings. The only real benefit of standing in an election is the free leaflet delivery but nowadays the Royal Mail delivers all leaflets at once so they are probably all thrown in the bin together!

The fact is that single issue parties are now little more than a joke. We have spoken to many MPs, ministers and senior journalists and they all agree that this is no

longer an effective strategy. Also, it is MPs and ministers that we need on our side, so what is the point in antagonising them by being in competition?

In recent years we have also seen other significant disadvantages to being a political party. Some of the media get nervous, precisely because of those rules requiring balance and even though they are ignored, what is the point in making life difficult for ourselves? And the cost of running, even a very modest campaign, is now enormous. Whilst it is great fun being involved in an election campaign, it is a waste of money. We are not going to fritter away members’ and donors’ money when there are far more effective ways to spend it.

Most important of all, CLEAR has made more progress in the cannabis campaign in the past year than has been made in the whole 44 years since the introduction of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. We are now working in the very heart of government and we are on the threshold of a breakthrough, certainly on medicinal access. Never a week goes by now without some contact with a minister’s office. That is a sea change to the ineffective, rather embarrassing campaigns of the past.

In the forthcoming election we will be offering both the Liberal Democrats and the Greens an opportunity to communicate with our followers. We certainly recommend that you give your vote to one of them. Although there are decent MPs of integrity in both main parties, the Tory and Labour frontbenches cannot be trusted. They are cynical, self-serving confidence tricksters. They never have taken any notice of the clamour for cannabis law reform and they never will. They are in the pockets of the alcohol industry and the dishonest tabloid press which is interested in nothing except sensationalism and scare stories.

So please, vote LibDem or Green. Neither Labour nor the Tories deserve your vote.