We live in a representative democracy. The ballot box is the ultimate test of leadership. Who are these “community leaders”?
Throughout the trial, local councillors (individually and as a body) have in the main been regrettably silent on the issue. It is no coincidence that the ward most associated with street drug dealing (Coldharbour) also had one of the lowest turnouts in the country in the May council elections (just 14%).
But some councillors are members of the Community Police Consultative Group, which is supportive of the trial.
Lambeth is represented by three MP’s. Only one of them has been vocal in opposing the trial - Kate Hoey (Labour, Vauxhall). She has a long-standing, personal opposition to any relaxation of the law in relation to cannabis. This is perfectly legitimate: MP’s are elected representatives, not mandated delegates. But we do not accept that she speaks for the people of Lambeth on this issue. We regret that, in her many media appearances, she has chosen to deploy many of the assertions set out above, to the detriment of Lambeth’s reputation. Lambeth desperately needs investment, regeneration, jobs and new opportunities, which the media depictions of recent months do little to encourage.
Ms Hoey has been supported in her media campaign by two or three local service providers. In their respective, valued roles they have important insights to contribute. But, as service providers, they can no more claim to be “community leaders” than the manager of the local supermarket.