Legalise All Drugs and Let Me Have a Quiet Life

Legalise All Drugs and Let Me Have a Quiet Life
Posted by FoM on April 27, 2002 at 17:27:32 PT
By Colin Brown
Source: Independent UK
Mo Mowlam kicks off her shoes and relaxes on the sofa when the tape recorder is switched off. Some MPs said she could have become the next prime minister, she concedes. But look what it has done to Tony: "I wouldn't have wanted it."Leaks of her new book Momentum (Hodder and Stoughton) focused on her call for Tony Blair to axe Gordon Brown to end their damaging feud over the leadership. I spotted a line in it, calling for the legalisation of all drugs, including ecstasy, heroin and cocaine. Is she serious?
In her last job in government, she was responsible for drugs policy and says became convinced after trips to Colombia, the cocaine capital, that prohibition was useless. "The thing that hit me was the money that drives it," she said. "I don't think we can stop it and there are a number of people in other countries, and police and social workers, who agree with me. We have to face up to the reality."She would tax drugs and use the money to help reduce addiction. In the autumn she will be fund raising in the US for her new charity – "Mo-mo" homes for ex-addicts.There was a time when ''St Mo'' was most popular politician in Britain. Her new book recalls how she discussed with Peter Kilfoyle how Blair was ''destroying'' the party and she was the only one who could run against him.That was before her own long slide from favour in Downing Street, which may be timed from the moment she eclipsed Tony Blair's keynote speech at the party conference simply by walking on to the platform.She is happier without the stress, she says. This is not wholly convincing. Those who remember her arrival at the Commons – before the illness with a brain tumour took its toll – still remember the bruises as she elbowed people out of the way to get close to the leadership under Neil Kinnock.Ambition was never lacking in our Mo.We are sitting drinking Pouilly Fumé in the garden room at her Victorian house in Hackney. I'm not sure she would not swap it for the flat at Number Ten if she had had the chance. Her husband, Jon, is in the bath upstairs, after an afternoon happily painting in his shed down the garden.She is happier than a year ago, when she was running a Whitehall department and enduring a whispering campaign that she now feels must have been sanctioned by Blair. In her final days as the Northern Ireland Secretary, she believes the security services were also trying to undermine her for being too close to the Sinn Fein leadership."When they were getting at me, the security forces reported private conversations that they had tapped in which I called Martin McGuinness 'babe'. I call everyone babe, darlin', honey – although I wouldn't call Ian Paisley darlin' or hun."There is a risk portraying her as ''St Mo the Martyr''. She accuses Blair of acting in a presidential manner, and sidelining her when she was at Northern Ireland, but he tried to keep her in the Government, offering her Frank Dobson's post as Health Secretary, which she turned down."Yes – but I don't say he pushed me out. He tried to find something for me to do. What I wanted to do was the MoD, because I wanted eventually to go to the Foreign Office. He tried hard to get me to do the London Mayor, which he thought would be a good job. I thought because of the lack of funding and real power it would be a non-job. We disagreed on that.''She has been offered a seat in the House of Lords. "I'm thinking about it," she smiles.Was Blair a good Prime Minister? "Yes," she says without hesitation. "If he goes into Iraq, it would be question mark over his tactical decision-making because it would be catastrophic."She insists she is not anti-Brown. "I think Gordon and Tony have to find a way to work, because those kind of divisions don't make for good government. If they can't – and they may not be able to because it's been going on for years – he must try to find some way of moving him. If that means biting the bullet, he must bite it."The most likely move by Brown is for Blair's job. Surely, she would not want Gordon to be the next leader? "Why not?" she says. "I haven't made up my mind between Charles Clarke [party chairman], David Blunkett and Brown, who I think will be the three front-runners. I keep being asked who I would support. I haven't made up my mind yet, but I think each of them would do a good job. I think Brown has got great skills."She is now embarking on a two-month tour promoting her book in towns and cities across the land. ''It will be like a general election campaign,'' she says. She seems to relish the prospect. Biography Born:  September 18, 1949 Education: Coundon, Court comprehensive school, Coventry; Durham University; University of Iowa. Career:  lecturer, Florida State University, 1977-8; Newcastle University 1979-83; senior administrator, Northern College, Barnsley 1984-87. Political Career:  MP for Redcar, 1983-2001. Shadow national heritage secretary, 1993-4; shadow Ulster Secretary, 1994-97; Ulster Secretary, 1997-99; Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, 1999-2000. Related Article: Mowlam: Legalise All Drugs Mo Mowlam has called for all recreational drugs ­ including cocaine, ecstasy and heroin ­ to be legalised and taxed. The former cabinet minister, who was responsible for anti-drugs policy, says prohibition is not working. Speaking to The Independent on Sunday before the launch of her autobiography, she said: "I am arguing for legalising all drugs because I don't think there is any other way. You have to take the financial nexus out of it. If you can do that, you can pay people to produce it, as they do with tobacco, and tax it. "I think that is the most effective way because in the end I don't think you could ever stop it. "If the kids get hold of it because it's a high, they will get hold of it. Why not regulate it, take the tax from it and deal with addiction?" Ms Mowlam says that she became convinced from anti-drugs visits to Colombia that cutting supply was not enough on its own. "The thing that hit me was the money that drives it. The money will go where they can make it. That is the problem. "I don't think we can stop it, and there are a number of people in other countries who agree with me, and police and social workers who agree with me. We have to face up to the reality." Complete Title: Legalise All Drugs! Support Tony! Back Gordon! Oh, and Let Me Have a Quiet LifeSource: Independent (UK)Author: Colin BrownPublished: April 28, 2002Copyright: 2002 Independent Newspapers (UK) Ltd.Contact: letters Related Articles:Cannabis Campaigners Call for More Reform Seeks Cannabis Law Change
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