Ludo Thierry

Scottish Government may be purring gently but is showing its claws ever so slightly.

The Westminster govt have recently announced that they are holding a UK wide conference to discuss drug abuse/misuse and have arranged it for Glasgow on Feb 27th. They deliberately played silly beggers though and didn’t include the Scottish Govt (or Welsh Govt, Irish Exec, or any other relevant authority) to participate in the organisation and agenda setting.

The Westminster Home Secretary isn’t attending and the Westminster minister chairing is Kit Malthouse – his brief, clearly, being to maintain Westminster/Whitehall ‘control’ of drug policy and to stymie the efforts of the Scottish Govt (and various Police Authorities south of the border) to press for immediate trials of Supervised Consumption Rooms and rapid transfer of Scottish drug policy to Scotland etc. (With similar calls from some in Wales etc).

Anyhow – The Scottish Govt have shown real intelligence and have organised a pre-conference Conference in the same venue, but the day before! – Essentially, turning Kit Malthouse’s deliberately minimal conference into a 2 day rather more maximal Conference – where on Day 1 the Scottish Govt are ensuring that all the stuff Westminster don’t want aired – now can be aired – and how!!

The Scottish Govt have arranged for the model of a Supervised Drug Consumption Room to be part of the Conference (I believe the City of Bristol had this model made to support its own active demands for a SDCR in Bristol).

Given all her pops at the Scottish Govt about drug issues in Scotland even super-whining tory MSP Annie Wells has had to welcome the SNP Scottish Govt Conference through gritted teeth.

A clever case of challenging Westminster by the simple act of being highly helpful and super-cooperative – smart stuff!

Link and snippets below:

The Scottish government is to hold a drugs summit in Glasgow the day before a UK government conference on the same issue in the same venue.

The UK government confirmed last month it would be holding a summit at the Scottish Events Campus on 27 February aimed at tackling problem drug use.

Plans for a separate conference at the campus on 26 February were announced by the Scottish government on Thursday.

It said the event would “better highlight the problem in Scotland”.

The Scottish government has been calling for the introduction of consumption rooms where addicts can safely inject, and for control over drugs policy to be devolved from Westminster to Holyrood – but the proposals have so far been rejected by the UK government.

Instead, it said it would be holding a major summit that would bring together health professionals, politicians and senior police officers from Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland to examine ways of reducing the number of drug deaths across the UK.

At the time, the Scottish government claimed that the summit had been set up without any consultation – and it has now announced its own event which will be co-hosted by Glasgow City Council.

It said the discussions would “help inform Scottish input” to the UK Drugs Summit the next day, with public health minister Joe Fitzpatrick saying the agenda would be led by people with “lived experience” of drug abuse.

“The UK event, while welcome, simply does not have the voices of people with lived experience in Scotland at its heart. We’ve pressed the UK government to extend their event to accommodate this, but this has not yet been forthcoming.”

The Scottish conference will also include training in the use of Naloxone, which reverses the effect of an opioid overdose, and a demonstration model of a drug consumption facility.

Scottish Conservative health spokeswoman Annie Wells has previously said she is “open” to the idea of consumption rooms.

Responding to the Scottish government announcement, she said any opportunity to discuss how to tackle Scotland’s drug crisis was welcome.

Clearly a case of ‘pooling and sharing’ – Better Together, anyone?