Thursday, June 05, 2008

A Disgrace To A Liberal Party?

I thought this was a liberal party, that supported the right of people to protest. Even when you disagree with them.

Especially when you disagree with them.

Doesn't seem to be happening here ......


Bernard Salmon said...

Er, where do I say that they don't have the right to protest? I think the subject of their protest is illiberal nonsense, but they certainly have the right to do so.

Chris Black said...

Well, you wrote:

"This seems to me to be exceptionally small-minded, populist, illiberal nonsense. Tom Brake and Cllr McCoy are a disgrace to a liberal party and should be ashamed of themselves."

That didn't really convey me your affirmation of her right to protest.

Would you prefer that people who are against the use of soft drugs should leave the party?

Bernard Salmon said...

"That didn't really convey me your affirmation of her right to protest."
I think you are reading far more into that statement than is there.

As to your question about people against the use of soft drugs, the answer is of course not. You can believe that something is wrong (eg soft drugs) but believe that it should be people's own decision as to whether they take part in such activities.
The issue here is whether people who call themselves liberals should be protesting against a perfectly legal business, selling things associated with a product we as a party believe should be legal.
Would Cllr McCoy and Tom Brake be protesting against the shop if it had become a gay bookshop? Many of the school's might well have similar concerns about their children walking past such an establishment.
Or what if it was an off licence? Another entirely legal product, but one which is certainly associated with health problems, more so than cannabis.
It may be that they would still be protesting, but I'm not sure they could really call themselves liberals.

Jock Coats said...

Would you prefer that people who are against the use of soft drugs should leave the party?

I second Bernard's response to that - you can be personally against lots of things but respect the right of others to make up their own minds. Colin Blakemore for example, he of the recent scale of harm research, seems to be against the war on drugs but not in favour of people using them.

Bernard - I do recall a protest, albeit probably not as big as this one owing to the rather smaller location, that a gay youth club was going to be promoting/glamourizing activities that at the time would have landed their underaged clients in more chokey than possession of cannabis at class B potentially. Am I glad that club was promoting disrespect for the criminal law - you betcha! And now that law is gone.

One of the problems with this of course is that while what this shop sells are all legal, because the "real deal" is illegal, its distribution is uncontrolled and makes it more likely that a youngster thinking cannabis must be cool because the shop sells things related to its consumption might fall into the hands of an unscrupulous dealer with every incentive to push the stuff onto those kids.

The liberal happy medium in this protest therefore might be to seek to persuade the wannabe protestors that if the real drugs were legalized and regulated that shop might well have to be licensed and sited away from a school. So the campaign against the shop as it stands could be a campaign in favour of more freedom for adults and more protection for kids from the influences of drugs culture.

In the great scheme of things, I reckon studying Byron and Shelley, or half of the contents of the kids' iPods, are probably just as influential in teaching kids that drusg can be cool!

Anonymous said...

So what would you think if a Lib Dem MP would arrange a protest against homosexuals? Or against single mothers? Etc. Of course they have the right to arrange such protests, but are they anymore liberal, if they do?

Anonymous said...

I am not sure that Mr Salmon is displaying any of the liberal values of tolerance and understanding by condemning my action without first informing himself of the background to the issue. I agree that de criminalising some drugs would enable greater control over their supply including places like this, which under regulation probably wouldn't be permitted so close to two schools. I have been using the issue to gently open up the idea with my residents. However, as Chris Black is obviously aware there is often a conflict as a councillor between representing your residents, and your own personal/party views. Trying to explain the nuances of this issue when I have an aggressive Tory leaning local press more than happy to portray me as 'soft on drugs' for not taking up the issue would probably lead to me losing my seat. Being a local councillor isn't just about party politics.

Bernard Salmon said...

Jayne, that really isn't good enough. You say I'm not showing the values of tolerance. I'm not the one who's trying to close down a perfectly legal business. You also say I didn't bother to inform myself about the situation. Wrong - I checked out various websites, including Your High's own site and came to the conclusion this business wasn't doing any particular harm, which is surely what the test any liberal should be applying in a situation like this. You say you're just representing your constituents. Would you be protesting if the shop in question had become a gay bookshop and parents were up in arms about that? If not, what's the difference? And you certainly haven't expressed any personal reservations about the protest - quite the contrary. I certainly wouldn't have any problem with you giving advice and information to your constituents on how to protest, but you're endorsing their protest, which is quite a different matter. I could also ask to what extent you're representing those constituents who might support the shop.
You say that you would lose your seat because of the aggressive Tory press labelling you soft on drugs. Well, you could always try explaining your stance in leaflets you produce yourself. You could maybe call the leaflets something like 'Focus'.
And finally, you say that being a local councillor isn't just about party politics. I agree. It's about standing up for values you believe in, not just acting as a megaphone for whichever group can shout loudest. I'm not convinced by what you've said that that standing up for liberal values is something that is terribly important to you.

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