As a delegate at the last NUS conference, I was looking forward to the chance to vote for a policy motion that originated with Liberals at York University committing the NUS to lobby the government for drug policy reform, broadly in line with Liberal Democrat values on the subject.
Unfortunately, the NUS conference suffers a chronic lack of time, and the motion was not debated. A procedural motion submitted just in time sent most of the undebated motions to the National Executive Council, the NUS exec. Today they met and news has just reached me that the motion (421) has passed.
This is an excellent day for students, liberals, the NUS, all of us, really. It’s a great example of what Liberals can achieve by working with the NUS on shared aims. I hope that we can build on this by getting more of us elected as delegates for future conferences. If you are interested in doing that and go to either a university or college, but don’t know how to go about it, feel free to get in touch with me and I’ll help you sort it through.
The full text of the motion is as follows:
Evidence Based Drug Policy
Conference Believes: Drugs can have serious consequences for the individual user and society in general. The misuses of drugs can blight the lives of individuals and families and the [sp]
Conference Further Believes: It is right and proper that the state should intervene to regulate and control the use of such substances. There is a need for evidence-based policy making on drugs with a clear focus on prevention and harm-reduction.
Conference Resolves: To lobby the government to immediately establish an independent panel tasked with performing an impact assessment of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and properly evaluating economically and scientifically, the present legal frameworks for a strictly controlled and regulated cannabis market. To lobby for any resources consequently released to be reinvested in effective education, treatment and rehabilitation programmes and for the widespread provision of the highest quality evidence-based medical, psychological and social services for those affected by drugs problems, including heroin maintenance clinics for the most problematic and vulnerable users.
Well Yellows, it’s time to start thinking about the next election. I think it’s reasonable to assume that we’ll get somewhere in the region of 15 - 20% of the national vote share and our vote will be more regionalised than in 2010.
I tried to come up with a list of constituencies to focus on in 2015 and decided the clue was in the number - 20:15. We pick 20 of our most vulnerable seats and 15 of the seats most vulnerable to us and focus our resources and activists in them. That’s not to say that we do no campaigning elsewhere, but we should be very focused overall.
In choosing the 20:15 seats, I didn’t just pick the seats with the smallest majorities, I also took into account the likelihood of the incumbent MP to stand again, which party we’ll be up against and which region the seat’s in - where possible everyone should have a targeted seat within a short journey of them. This is what I came up with:
We defend from the Conservatives: Solihull, Dorset Mid & Poole North, Wells, St Austell & Newquay, Somerton & Frome, Sutton & Cheam, St Ives, Burnley, Chippenham and Eastbourne.
We defend from Labour: Norwich South, Bradford East, Brent Central, Manchester Withington, Burnley, Dunbartonshire East, Birmingham Yardley, Edinburgh West, Redcar, Cardiff Central and Cambridge.
We attack the Conservatives in: Camborne & Redruth, Oxford West & Abingdon, Truro & Falmouth, Newton Abbot, Harrogate & Knaresborough, Watford, Montgomeryshire and Hereford & South Herefordshire.
We attack Labour in: Oldham East & Saddleworth, Ashfield, Sheffield Central, Edinburgh South, Chesterfield, Swansea West and Hampstead & Kilburn.
It may seem unrealistic to try to make multiple gains from Labour but if we don’t try, then the Labour party will know they can invest more resources into taking our vulnerable seats. We have to take the fight to Labour and we can win.
As the map demonstrates, most of the population of Great Britain will have one of these 20:15 super-important constituencies nearby.