An open letter to my MP, John Spellar

John Spellar MPDear John,

I would like to first open this open letter posted on my blog by quoting you. This was your comment yesterday, which you have published on your own website.

“Alan Johnson is right and there is an important democratic principle at stake.  Advisers and officials can give their views and ignore public opinion, but Ministers and MPs are answerable to the voters.  Outside advice is useful, but ultimately we have to answer to the public and I think the public are clear in their opposition to a free for all on drugs.  If someone has a different view they should put themselves up for election.”

Sadly John, it seems you have misunderstood some major points here. Terrifyingly, not only failing to understand the principles of democracy but the principles of science and the roles and responsibilities of a member of parliament.

First of all, I’m amazed and furious at your terrible distortions of the facts of this particular case. You claim that “the public are clear in their opposition to a free for all on drugs”, and I’m sure they are as whole; but I don’t remember anyone calling for a free for all on drugs. Do you? At no point did David Nutt or any member of the Advisory Council for the Misuse of Drugs say that there should be a free for all. Was this a deliberate move on your behalf to try and distort the story, or were you genuinely confused about the issue? If it’s the the first, then shame on you. If it is the second then why comment before understanding the situation? This isn’t the behaviour or standards I expect of a member of what is supposedly The Mother of All Parliaments.

This is the crux of the problem though isn’t it John? The issue is the distortion of facts to gain political traction, and here you are, caught at it. Again.

You might not like what you are about to hear, but let’s make the facts perfectly clear. The drug classification system is flawed as a result of political influence into scientific fact. The classifications are arbitrary. They do not represent relative risk compared to use, and they do not represent all addictive drugs that are available in the market. Why aren’t legal drugs included, such as tobacco or alcohol?

After all, tobacco which raised £10 billion in revenue in 2007-2008 for the UK government is dangerous. 440,000 people were hospitalised in 2007/2008 by smoking related diseases, and 33,000 people were killed by them. What price on life is that John? Of course, as someone who has been in your company whilst smoking, and as someone who in fact voted against the smoking ban, I find your belief about drugs to be highly hypocritical at best. How can you support smoking, which kills 33,000 people directly every year, yet be against the correct classification of drugs so their dangers are accurately represented to those who should chose to partake in them, illegally or otherwise? This isn’t promoting illegal use, its correctly identifying the dangers represented to the electorate, to the people. I mean I know this particular Government hasn’t got the greatest track record with making accurate claims, but you’d think they’d try and realise the kind of politics the people want, especially so close to an election where you need to pretend you are going to do something in order to gain votes (page 83, Chapter 7 – International Policy, in particular the referendum on the Lisbon Treaty… remember that promise?).

How about alcohol? 8,724 deaths in 2007 from alcohol. Nearly 9000 people died as a direct result of alcohol in the UK. Thats about double the figure compared to 15 years previously. Nearly half of all violent incidents in this country are believed to have been perpetrated by those under the influence of alcohol. How do you willingly ignore this information John? How?

Thats nearly 42,000 people. Thats almost half of your parliamentary constituency, dead. Is that really justifiable. You voted for it John, even when you do not even turn up to vote on the 2nd reading of the licensing laws that gave us 24 hour drinking. That is consent by absentia. Does the death of the few out way the tax take for the many?

Meanwhile, how about some statistics about these drugs. Well, how about your own colleague from Crosby, Liverpool. Claire Curtis-Thomas MP asked how many direct cannabis related deaths there were in her constituency, and in the Merseyside area. The answer. None. Not a single one. Ask this of the ONS for the entire country in Parliament please John. I emplore you. The answer will be 0.

In fact, a study by Keele University is mentioned on that page by a commenter. I’ve read it myself and his comments are correct. They found no correlation between mental illness and cannabis, and any correlation that has been found has shown that at worst it exacerbates an underlying condition, and does not cause it. Alcohol causes liver disease. Tobacco causes lung cancer, yet Government after Government continue to allow this because of the tax take. Its not about freedoms, you are taking them away piece by piece. Its about the tax, and don’t suggest otherwise John. You can’t justify it.

How about the National Office of Statistics figures that show those who smoke and drink heavily are more likely to have “neurotic disorder or anti-social personality disorder”. These statistics tell me that drinking and smoking are essentially gateway drugs. That those who drink and smoke are most likely to take part in further activities.

We are part of a supposed representative democracy. Your comment that if someone has a different view they should put themselves up for election is at best asinine and at worst dangerously representative of the lack of democracy that the Labour Party now presents to the people. You John, yes you, are elected by the people to represent the people and represent their views and beliefs. Your view point isn’t what we choose you for. We pick you because you seem to best represent the beliefs of the electorate in the place you choose to represent in parliament.

This argument is about accurately reflecting the dangers of drugs. You have lied to distort the facts of the situation by suggesting there was a call for a drugs free for all. Abject, blatant lies John. There never was. The call was to show accurately the dangers. 23 deaths last year from Ketamine, and it is a Class C drug still. It is far, far more dangerous than cannabis, yet it remains lower in the scale. What hypocrisy! This is the problem that Nutt was trying to highlight and you chose to ignore it based upon the wills of the right wing press and their demonisations.

Sadly you continue to support the lie about the dangers of cannabis, whilst wanting to keep the right to smoke, and increasing the licensing hours which has seen a massive increase in drinking problems. Stop being a hypocrite, and denying us some freedoms whilst giving us others. Some drugs, some incredibly dangerous ones are seemingly acceptable to you, but not others.

Through my research to write this article, I realised that whilst I’ve been a Labour supporter all my life and voted for you as a national politician representing the party I supported, you in fact are not representing me in the slightest and your votes represent the party whip. You’ve helped me to realise John, that the Labour party I believed in is no longer the Labour Party. You might have the name, but you certainly do not have the principles and beliefs of those that founded the party to represent the people. You don’t represent me, and I certainly believe you don’t represent your constituents either. Just look these votes in Parliament.
You were against protesting outside Parliament, your failed to vote against the corporal punishment of children by their parents (consent in absentia), your opposition to the Freedom of Information Act, you were against your own parties election manifesto promise to have a vote on the Lisbon Treaty, which was handy because your party broke the promise anyway. you were in favour of the introduction of ID cards, you were for the invasion of Iraq, and yet didn’t believe it necessary to have an inquiry into the decisions made. You wanted rid of juries in inquiries also. You wanted rid of enshrined right to a trial in front of 12 of your own peers too John. You didn’t want people tried in front of a jury, and you are against the belief that 16 year olds, that are expected to pay tax if working, and contribute to this country like any other person, should have the right to vote.

These are things we are exactly opposite to each other on.

It’s these thoroughly downright distortions, hypocritical stances, plus an investigation into your voting habits that make me realise that you do not represent me, and I certainly believe you fail to represent Warley’s constituents. You’re supposed to reflect their views, you aren’t supposed to take this vote as a mandate to give your own views and represent them as your constituents. You have to, whether you like the fact or not, say what your electorates want you to say. That is democracy John, and you fail to understand it.

I’m afraid to say this John, and I’m sorry, but you no longer represent me, or what I believe the Labour Party represent, so I can longer support you as the Member of Parliament for the Warley constituency. You’re out of touch, and out of your depth.

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About plkrtn
Lostpedia SysOp, blogger, occasional writer for TVOvermind and consumer technology geek.

3 Responses to An open letter to my MP, John Spellar

  1. Dadio says:

    Well, it would be difficult to argue with that “dear John”.
    There is considerable evidence that prohibition, does not work, isn’t it about time we looked at de-criminilalising the use of drugs. It might even be time to consider. Their legalisation. With the revenue potential, not olny could you take out the criminal aspects you may be able to deal with the treasury debt issues.
    I will be watching with interest.

    • plkrtn says:

      The government have to learn a simple lesson. It is easily taught by looking at the lesson’s the Americans taught us in 1919 by the passing of the Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and the Portuguese decriminalisation of drugs
      1. Prohibition drives demand. It does not quell it.
      2. Prohibtion leads to organized crime, protection rackets, gang crime.
      3. These gangs get very rich, and do not pay tax on their cash. In fact, tax evasion can be the only way to capture some of these gang leaders.
      4. That the decriminalisation of these things actually reduces their usage. Portugal has the lowest marijuana use out of the entire EU for over-15s.
      5. The money saved on trying to prosecute and arrest the user could be used for free drug treatments, and police time could be better spent on chasing the dealers themselves.
      6. There are plenty of heroin plants in a certain country. This is what drives that war ultimately. It has been evidenced that a more liberal attitude to the user means a reduction in intake in the country.
      7. With tax needing to increase, it is a sensible and viable thought that the legalisation of drugs would lead to cleaner, safer drugs not contaminated by criminal profit making. It could give the country not only safer drugs not fueled by the drug trade, but a much needed source of tax when the public are highly resistent to increases in general taxation.

      The facts are clear. Its just unfortunate that the US hard line policy is that which dictates policy here, and not that of our European cousins.

  2. Sarah says:

    Well, Paul, that’s bloody brilliant.

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