Oh dear. Iain Dale seems to getting a little bit hot under the collar about Chris Huhne's press release calling for the reclassification of cannabis.
Iain quotes something from a Lib Dem conference six years ago (apparently Iain thinks policy is carved in tablets of stone that must remain in place for several decades), where the party appeared to be arguing mainly for the de-criminalisation of drugs under certain circumstances.
Obviously Iain is unaware that since 2002, leadership of the party has changed (Kennedy, Ming and now Clegg), and with a change of leadership a change of priorities and focus. Are we to assume that Tory policies from 2002 are still in place ? Whatever would we be accused of if we quoted what the Tories planned to do from 6 years when Duncan-Smith was leader of the Tories ?
The problem is, for Iain, that this has happened before. We had something of a spat in the press in 2004/2005 when he wrote accusing the Lib Dems of wanting to impose a tourist tax, with Iain at that time quoting from a conference motion on tourism. unfortunately Iain didn't read the bit at the bottom of the web page which made clear that policy motions are superceded by newer motions, and Lib Dem policy on tourism had actually been superceded by a new motion since the one he quoted.
In much the same way as policy motions and party leaders move on, so does opinion and medical evidence. As Chris Huhne says in the press release quoted by Iain,
“The advisory council must take on board the increasing reports of the mental health effects of high strength cannabis, but ministers must be guided by the science and the evidence as assessed by the council.”
So what is the problem Iain ? Surely, in the light of new evidence, in the wake of a new leader being elected, with the passing of 6 years, a political party is entitled to change its mind. Perhaps the party was wrong in 2002. Perhaps all political parties could learn a lesson from admitting they made a mistake.
In 2003 the Tories were all gung ho for war in Iraq, more so than Labour. Prior to that we had "back to basics", Black Wednesday, Section 28, indeed any number of things the Tories did wrong. They now try and dismiss their links to these things and say that was the "old" Conservative Party, not the new one with a tree as the logo. So have the Tories moved on Iain ? Aren't all partied entitled to move on ?