I have always had a degree of admiration for Kenny MacAskill. He always struck me as someone who was not afraid to tackle the kind of issues that politicians normally skirt around. It is, therefore, not too surprising to find him putting his head above the parapet on the issue of reforming drug legislation.
Only those with their heads stubbornly buried in the sand will dispute that such reform is necessary. The “war on drugs” has been a decades-long squandering of resources for no discernible social gain. But for the resistance of vested interests, there would have been a total rethink long ere now. There is always a tipping point in such matters. It would be gratifying to think that McAskill’s intervention might prompt other senior figures to speak out.
But there is another point being made here. Kenny McAskill also highlights the need for control over drugs legislation in Scotland to be brought home. We have now moved past the stage where we had to argue the merits of devolving powers. The onus now is on the UK Government to justify the withholding of powers that should logically and rightfully be vested in the Scottish Parliament. Increasingly, the British establishment’s insistence on denying power to Scotland’s parliament looks perverse and obtuse. Where people used to wonder whether devolution of particular powers was a good idea, more and more they are coming to question why, when Scotland has its own democratically elected parliament in Edinburgh, those powers are still in the hands of British politicians in London.