THE STUC at its annual congress last week passed a hugely important motion calling for “trade unions to work with the Scottish Government to secure responsibility for drug policy from Westminster” as well as ask an “incoming Labour government” to devolve drug policy (The National, Apr 20).

Let’s get real! The Labour Party do not exist any more – whether at Holyrood or Westminster. It’s the Scottish Keir Starmer party and the London-centric Keir Starmer party.

If evidence is needed, then ask members of the Islington North Constituency Labour Party who are ruthlessly being denied access to democracy – no you may not choose to put forward to the electorate a noble, generous and honest man who has won every election since 1983.

Starmer is treading the boards across Scotland gleefully slapping the faces of party members who democratically elected Scottish leader Richard Leonard. Perhaps this is what should be expected of a ruthless and ambitious north London prosecco lawyer inhabiting a policy-free zone.

Meantime in Edinburgh, we are told by Starmer and Anas Sarwar (who I respect) that Labour are election-ready. Really? We are being sold a cynical pup. None of the six CLPs has chosen a candidate!

Meanwhile, the STUC is naive if it believes for one minute that Starmer has any appetite for supporting any evidence-based drugs policy.

Don’t take it from me though; Ant Lehane, formerly secretariat to the moribund and flailing Labour Campaign for Drug Policy Reform, hit the nail on the head following one of Starmer’s opportunistic visits to Scotland: “For a man of specifics and details, his answer was muddled. He clearly confused questions related to drug possession and criminalisation – such as racial disproportionality in stop and search – with the complex issues related to organised crime, criminal gangs and county lines.”

I wish there was space herein to address the myriad issues arising from devolution of drugs policy. It is complex beyond belief. But a few short points. Already health, justice and policing are delegated matters.

Scottish Legal News reported last month from a report from the respected Scottish Drugs Forum: “To make progress on decriminalisation, policymakers, the media and the general public need to be fully informed and have a shared understanding of what the specifics of any policy change are and the impact for individuals and society as a whole.”

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That is not a position that can be reached at Holyrood or Westminster where Starmer holds influence and/or sway.

The SNP government, though, stands accused of lacking the political will to make progress despite there being 1339 drug misuse deaths during 2020 and 1330 during 2021. They should be grasping the nettle by supporting and charging ahead with evidence-based overdose prevention centres. Let Westminster go to the courts – or will they really send police in to arrest drug users injecting more safely or put doctors and other drug workers in handcuffs?

Also, Stephen Boyle, the Auditor General for Scotland, said last year that an “overarching” and “transparent” plan was needed on drug and alcohol misuse services, with the current approach “fragmented”.

Last Tuesday, when Humza Yousaf set out his vision for his period in government, there were 13 words on Scotland’s drugs crisis.

I suspect not in my lifetime but eventually, all drugs scheduled under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016 will be legally regulated – discuss!

Douglas McBean

Lapsed Labour Party member