Advocating the decriminalisation of drugs will do serious damage to UKIP
Nick Herbert's Twitter feed alerts me to listen to last night's edition of Radio 4's Any Questions.
The shadow Defra secretary was on the panel alongside erstwhile UKIP leader Nigel Farage, that party's only capable media performer and recognisable face and, of course, one of the candidates challenging John Bercow in Buckingham at the general election.
The subject of mephedrone came up and Farage picked up the ball and ran with it all the way to advocating decriminalisation of all drugs and selling them in Boots.
Here's what he said:
"Prohibition in this whole area simply isn't working... Whilst people may find this distasteful, I think we need a proper full Royal Commission on this whole area of drugs... Let's find out through a Royal Commission whether perhaps we should decriminalise drugs, whether we should license them, license the users and sell them at Boots... I think there is an argument that says that if we decriminalised it, we'd make the lives of millions of people far better than they are today."
Click here to listen for yourself, 16 minutes and 40 seconds in.
I cannot see how advancing such a policy is going to be electorally advantageous for UKIP; indeed, I think it will do them serious damage.
I would venture that the ultra-libertarian section of the electorate to whom this policy appeals is massively outweighed by the more conservative-minded pool of voters from which UKIP has generally drawn its support.
Next time someone tells you on the doorstep that they are thinking of voting UKIP, drawing their attention to this ought to make most of them think again. And I certainly can't imagine many voters in the sleepy villages of the Buckingham constituency giving this policy the thumbs-up. What an Easter gift for John Bercow (not that I believe for a moment that he needs it - I have every confidence he will be returned with a very healthy majority).