LONDON — A Labour grandee has urged Keir Starmer to launch an inquiry into the decriminalization of drugs, in a split with current party policy.
Labour peer and former U.K. Home Secretary David Blunkett told an episode of POLITICO’s Westminster Insider podcast that there should be an “open debate” about how victims of drugs are treated.
Starmer, a former senior prosecutor, has made repeatedly clear that he is not in favor of changing the law to decriminalize drugs.
“I don’t think we should decriminalize drugs,” the Labour leader said last month. “I’ve seen first hand the damage that drug taking has and does to people’s lives.”
He added: “We are not in the business of decriminalizing drugs.”
When Blunkett was home secretary in the early 2000s, he downgraded cannabis from a Class B to Class C drug. It was later upgraded back to B.
Blunkett told Westminster Insider he thinks that U-turn was wrong, but that “it was marginal” given the arrival on the market of stronger forms of cannabis.
He added: “I’m not in favor of legalizing. Decriminalization is an interesting alternative. It’s not the same thing as legalization. But these are such delicate political matters.”
When asked if drugs should be decriminalized, he said: “I think there’s an argument for it.”
Blunkett made clear he had never been asked to give Starmer his advice on home affairs, but added: “If I were to do so, it would be … to be very cautious, to take your time, to have a proper, fully-funded inquiry, to take the examples of what’s changing across the world and properly examine whether they’ve created greater danger or whether they’ve made more sense and people are behaving sensibly.’”