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Praise where Praise is due – is Nigel Farage coming out of the Libertarian closet on drugs?

Tom Winnifrith
Wednesday 12 February 2014

Perhaps the UKIP leader is a libertarian after all? You know that I regard his utterances on immigration as truly awful and UKIP’s economic policies do not stack up – scrapping foreign aid and ending EU contributions saves £16 billion. You cannot re-use that n times to spend, spend, spend and also cut the £100 billion deficit. But he has today written a brave and good piece in the Indy on drugs. Well done Nigel. We have just swapped emails on this matter - praise where praise is due.

Farage starts with a long grumble about dirty tricks and the anti-democratic nature of by-elections. There is one looming on Thursday in some grim Northern shit hole and Labour won before it started by tying up the postal votes. The system does not work. I agree with Nigel. Moreover the contempt with which Labour regard the “poor” vote as its own is – as Nigel says – pretty lamentable.

But Farage’s more interesting point is on drugs. He writes:

Last week, Nick Clegg returned from a trip to South America. Goodness knows what he smoked out there, because he actually made a couple of smart points. First, the  so-called War on Drugs isn’t working. Second, we should appoint a royal commission to look into the alternatives.

The fact is our current approach to drugs is neither practical nor effective. I strongly believe in promoting individual freedom – but I also strongly believe in reducing the public harm caused by drugs. As a parent as much as a politician, I say we have to accept that current policy has not achieved the reductions in crime or consumption that we’d hoped for. I know he slagged me off in this newspaper yesterday, but on this one I agree with Nick


Come on Nigel (and Nick) you are almost there saying what all politicians know to be true but just cannot be brave enough to admit. Prohibition NEVER works. We all know that with drugs illegal our kids will end up taking them anyway. They will do so in unsafe circumstances, paying way too much for basic commodities to criminals. That is always the way with prohibition – we do not need a Royal Commission to tell us that do we?

As a libertarian (as I think part of Farage might just be) I know that what I put into my own body should be my call and my call alone, not that of the State. But this is not just an ideological matter for me but a recognition that our anti-liberal laws do not work. They create crime, push up prices and so waste state resources and make criminals rich.

Legalise all drugs, sell them in shops, taxed like cigarettes and the price plunges, the criminals are pushed out of the system, the drug taking process becomes cleaner and safer and the Government secures a mammoth new revenue stream. It is not rocket science and in his heart I think Farage knows it. Clegg might even accept it too. Now why not be brave enough to stop talking Royal Commissions and just state it and push for policy change.

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About Tom Winnifrith
Tom Winnifrith is the editor of When he is not harvesting olives in Greece, he is (planning to) raise goats in Wales.
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