Friday, 22 January 2016

My thoughts on by-elections from 21/01/16 and why the Psychoactive Substances Bill is not a good move

Readers, the results of yesterday's local by-elections featuring Green Party candidates were as follows:

St Helens MBC, Thatto Heath: Labour 964 (71.1%, -3.8%), UKIP 182 (13.4%),Conservative 147 (10.8%, +3.7%), Green 62 (4.6%, -3.0%). All changes are since 2012.

Southwark LBC, Faraday: Lab 1072 (60.9%, -0.6%), Liberal Democrats 255 (14.7%, +8.5%), Green 138 (7.8%, -3.8%), Con 117 (6.6%, -2.8%), UKIP 93 (5.3%), Independent (Dean Porter) 47 (2.7%), All People's Party 38 (2.2%, -4.5%).

Thanet DC, Newington: Lab 288 (37.7%, +1.3%), UKIP 229 (30.0%, -14.2%), Con 156 (20.4%, +0.9%), Independent (Alan Hodder) 49 (6.4%), Green 20 (2.6%), Lib Dem 12 (1.6%), Independent (Graham Birchall) 10 (1.3%). Labour gain from UKIP.

South Lanarkshire UA, Hamilton North & East (1st preference votes): SNP 1089 (42.9%, +2.4%), Lab 855 (33.6%, -9.4%), Con 469 (18.5%, +8.4%), Green 83 (3.3%, +0.1%), Lib Dem 45 (1.8%). SNP elected at stage 5; changes are since 2012.

Not a particularly good night for the Green Party, even though we beat the Liberal Democrats in both the South Lanarkshire and Thanet local by-elections. The Newington by-election in Thanet is particularly notable because UKIP have already lost majority control of their only council, and Labour's win of a UKIP-held council seat strikes another crucial blow at the already split administration (several 'Independent' councillors in Thanet were once part of UKIP).

On another note, the Psychoactive Substances Bill, which will effectively ban 'legal highs' (by giving police powers to seize legal highs on a scheduled list, is coming close to law despite objections from even a few Conservative MPs, most notably ex-minister Crispin Blunt (MP for Reigate) over the inclusion of poppers, who was joined on that vote by David Davis (MP for Haltemprice & Howden). It is already well-known that the war on drugs is not working, and this bill will make that whole situation worse if passed. In addition, police cuts are being planned across Britain and this will distract police manpower and resources from tackling more serious crime. It is much better to keep legal highs legal but regulated and under control, and to educate people about the potential dangers of legal highs.

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