Of all the right-of-centre think tanks the libertarian-leaning Adam Smith Institute has always been a bit more spikey and willing to push the envelope than rival think tanks in Westminster wonk-land.
In economics the ASI was the mid-wife of Thatcher’s privatisation strategies which were exported around the world (the separate consulting arm spun-off from the institute advises foreign governments worldwide to this day). In the last decade it has (to little avail) been putting the case for not just lower taxes, but flatter and simpler taxes. Until now the wider libertarian social agenda was seemingly off limits and left to the various pressure groups and single-issue campaigns.
Madsen Pirie has never dodged the drugs liberalisation question in the past but the ASI has never pushed the policy until now. Madsen Pirie told Guido he felt that the “war on drugs" approach had now been tested to destruction and that the political environment was more “convivial" to drug liberalisation. Guido asked him “Do you mean that because we have a former self-confessed coke-head in the White House and a former stoner heading for Downing Street we might see change?" Diplomatically he replied “Well, it is fair to say, this generation of ministers will be more familiar with the issues."
Zero Base Policy has 32 other manifesto recommendations…
UPDATE : Claudia Rubin from the Release campaign says
the last significant drug policy measure in the UK was implemented by Margaret Thatcher with the introduction of the needle exchange programme and it is fitting therefore that the ASI should be taking this view. Were he to become Prime Minister next year, David Cameron could mark 40 years of the failure of prohibition by doing something really necessary and sensible.
Phillip Oppenheim, a former Conservative Treasury minister in charge of Customs says in an interview out today that in office he tried to push government policy in a progressive direction. There is nothing progressive about locking people up for smoking weed…
Published on Order Order here.