Dealing with drugs
Much crime is associated with drugs. In 1998 128,000 arrests
were made for drugs offences, of which 98,000 involved cannabis
only. Many drugs offences, like possession of cannabis for personal
use, have no victims. Prohibition has failed and crime associ-ated
with addictive drug use could be reduced if addicts were given the
Possession and supply
The possession, use and supply of cannabis through home-cultivation
and licensed 'coffee shops' should be legalised. This would cut
out drug dealers who are keen to move customers on to addictive
drugs. It would also stop the police misusing cannabis laws. The
possession of other drugs for personal use should be decriminalised.
Their supply should remain illegal until a specially convened Drugs
Commission considers whether to legalise each drug, and if so, how
best to regulate its supply.
Cutting drug addiction
GPs should be allowed to prescribe maintenance doses of heroin
to stabilise addicts' habits and move them onto rehabilitation programmes.
The commercial promotion of drugs, including tobacco and alcohol,
should be banned.
A voice for all
The Westminster electoral system is grossly unfair. A minority
of voters can elect a government with a massive majority. Elections
can be won or lost in a few dozen marginal seats. The two biggest
parties chase the same sterile centre ground, afraid to upset the
big business donors who dominate the political system. No wonder
turnout is plummeting.
We need a political system that brings power back to the people
and gives a voice to all.
Proportional representation should be introduced at all levels
of government. The Additional Member System (AMS) is best for Westminster
because it retains a constituency system. Local Authorities should
consult their electorates on whether to adopt AMS or the Single
Transferable Vote system.
A just basis for politics
The voting age should be reduced to 16. Parliaments should last
for a fixed term of four years so the ruling party can no longer
fix election dates to suit itself. The House of Lords should be
replaced by a chamber fully elected by proportional representation.
Institutional and large private political donations should be
banned and replaced by state funding of parties in proportion to
the votes they received at the previous election. The national limits
for General Election campaign expenditure should be radically reduced.
The Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and Greater London Authority
should assume greater powers, leading to full independence for Scotland
and Wales should they approve it by referendum.
Regional assemblies in England, elected by proportional representation,
should take over the powers currently exercised by the regional
quangos and government offices. Initially they should be funded
by direct grant. Tax-raising powers may replace this in time.
A new mandate for local government
Local authorities should be free to retain the committee system.
Local cabinets, established by the Local Government Act 2000, should
be prevented from conducting routine business in secret. Local authorities
should be given the freedom to set their own levels of spending
and taxation and to borrow money for capital projects.
Britain is a rich man's club, with one set of rules for those
on the inside and another for the rest. Millions of people face
routine discrimination in their daily lives while a powerful elite
manipulate the system. We need a rigorous programme of reform. People's
rights and responsibilities should be clearly defined in a written
Legislating for freedom
We need a Bill which collates and strengthens existing legislation
banning discrimination against individ-uals on the grounds of gender,
race, ethnic origin, nationality, age, sexuality, religion or disability.
It would incorpo-rate the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child,
extend the right of civil marriage to same-sex couples and amend
the provisions of the Disability Discrimination Act to establish
an adequate compliance mechanism.
The Government's Freedom of Information Act is weak. It allows
ministers to withhold information without explanation. The Act must
be amended to define in advance what categories of information may
A Constitutional Commission should be set up to draft a written
constitution. The Church of England should be disestablished. This
would end the privileges it enjoys and the interference of government
in its affairs. The Monarchy should no longer have a formal legislative,
executive or judicial role, though the royal family could continue
in a ceremonial capacity.