Monday, 9 June 2008

More on the 'Your High' controversy

I wasn't intending to return to the controversy over the Your High protest in Wallington, but I see Jayne McCoy responded to the posting over on Chris Black's blog. I've responded to that there, but I thought it might be instructive to post Jayne's views here, and my response to her.

Jayne's reply:
I am not sure that Mr Salmon is displaying any of the liberal values of tolerance and understanding by condemning my action without first informing himself of the background to the issue. I agree that de criminalising some drugs would enable greater control over their supply including places like this, which under regulation probably wouldn't be permitted so close to two schools. I have been using the issue to gently open up the idea with my residents. However, as Chris Black is obviously aware there is often a conflict as a councillor between representing your residents, and your own personal/party views. Trying to explain the nuances of this issue when I have an aggressive Tory leaning local press more than happy to portray me as 'soft on drugs' for not taking up the issue would probably lead to me losing my seat. Being a local councillor isn't just about party politics.

My response:
Jayne, that really isn't good enough. You say I'm not showing the values of tolerance. I'm not the one who's trying to close down a perfectly legal business. You also say I didn't bother to inform myself about the situation. Wrong - I checked out various websites, including Your High's own site and came to the conclusion this business wasn't doing any particular harm, which is surely what the test any liberal should be applying in a situation like this. You say you're just representing your constituents. Would you be protesting if the shop in question had become a gay bookshop and parents were up in arms about that? If not, what's the difference? And you certainly haven't expressed any personal reservations about the protest - quite the contrary. I certainly wouldn't have any problem with you giving advice and information to your constituents on how to protest, but you're endorsing their protest, which is quite a different matter. I could also ask to what extent you're representing those constituents who might support the shop.You say that you would lose your seat because of the aggressive Tory press labelling you soft on drugs. Well, you could always try explaining your stance in leaflets you produce yourself. You could maybe call the leaflets something like 'Focus'.And finally, you say that being a local councillor isn't just about party politics. I agree. It's about standing up for values you believe in, not just acting as a megaphone for whichever group can shout loudest. I'm not convinced by what you've said that that standing up for liberal values is something that is terribly important to you.

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