Norman Baker’s Departure from Home Office ‘Won’t Distract Lib Dem’s Drug Reform Policy’
Norman Baker, Liberal Democrat MP for Lewes, resigned yesterday as Home Office Minister for Crime and Prevention after four and half years in office, and has been replaced by fellow Lib Dem, Lynn Featherstone.
Baker has recently been in the media lime light with the release of the Coalition’s Comparative Study on Drug Policy, October 30th, which he spear-headed, along with the House of Commons debate on the matter that took place the same day.
The only Lib Dem politician in the Home Office for four and half years, Baker explained to the Independent that he has had to work twice as hard to get things through, and he now needs a break to spend time in his constituency in the lead up to the elections. He said:
‘It has become difficult because, clearly, I want to achieve in the Home Office what I can for the Lib Dems, and I have been able to achieve quite a lot. For example, the Drugs Policy (report) last week, which is the first time in 43 years we have had an evidence based drug report. Work on FGL, and animal experiments and anti social behaviour and so on but clearly it was like walking through mud.’
The Conservatives have been accused of binning the report released last week and Baker goes onto explain how tough it have been to work with Home Secretary Theresa May:
‘I have a lot of time for the Home Secretary. I think she is a formidable, intelligent, competent Home Secretary, and I respect and admire her for that. The difficulty is, is that she believes she is running a Conservative department and a Conservative Government, and the Lib Dems are almost there by Default, and that didn’t make for good Coalition relations.’
What does this mean for the Lib Dem’s drug reform direction? PsypressUK asked Danny Kushlick, Director of Transform Drug Policy Foundation:
‘His departure won’t distract from the Lib Dem’s drug police for two reasons. Firstly, this push to take a position has been in place for over a year. Secondly, the response they have from the media, and in general, for taking such a proactive and progressive response has been incredibly supportive, so much so that any inter coalition conflict will not disrupt this.’
In the lead up to the General Election next year it is likely that the drugs question will not only be a defining feature of Lib Dem policy, but also Theresa May’s. Her commitment to criminalisation looks increasingly untenable.