Nick Clegg has accused the home secretary Theresa May, of attempting to delete sentences from a Whitehall report after it concluded that there was no link between tough laws and the levels of illegal drug use.
The former deputy prime minister also said senior Conservatives such as David Cameron and George Osborne have failed to act on drug reform because they saw the issue as a ‘naughty recreational secret’ at Notting Hill dinner parties instead of a public health crisis.
In an interview with the Guardian before a major UN conference on the global drug problem Clegg said the Conservative government was failing to listen to warnings that the war on drugs had failed.
The Liberal Democrat MP and former party leader who sits on the Global Commission on Drugs Policy called for sweeping changes that would take the control of cannabis out of the hands of criminals and also ensure that the users of harder drugs receive health treatment rather than jail sentences.
When the prime minister first became an MP he appeared open-minded to drug reform but Clegg said he showed no interest in the issue when the pair worked together during the previous coalition government.
‘I think part of the problem is that for some of them when you say drugs to them they think of Notting Hill dinner parties.
They think it is all a slightly naughty recreational secret.
They don’t think of whole countries like Colombia – that has been brought to its knees.
The party’s result at the general election one year later was even worse than the rebels had feared: the party lost 49 of the 57 seats it had won in 2010 – and its vote share plummeted by nearly two-thirds. The party had not been in such bad shape since the 1960s. In retrospect it is easy to argue that the party needed to be warned of the scale of the approaching catastrophe. But the defeat is not easily explained away.
How did an intellectually vibrant centrist party that was on course to become a permanent feature of a new British coalition politics fail so totally? Inside the crippled party everyone is now asking the questions that were avoided at the time of the failed coup. They are attempting to determine whether the brutal result was caused by individual mistakes – fear of a Labour-SNP coalition – or a fundamental misjudgment in the party’s decision to enter government with the Conservatives in 2010.