The SSP and Tommy Sheridan in particular have been viciously attacked by the mass-circulation Daily Record. Our crime was to oppose the hypocrisy of their 'anti-drugs' campaign. Kevin Williamson, an SSP drugs spokesperson and supporter of the ISM, replies to the smears.

An open letter to the Daily Record

Kevin Williamson, Scottish Socialist Party

There's no doubt that heroin addiction is one of the biggest problems our
society has to deal with. The recorded deaths from overdoses are still at
record highs. Something has to be done and has to be done FAST.
The Daily Record solution is to demand that drug dealers get locked up and
their homes get taken from them. This is a farcical approach to tackling a
complex problem - and one that has failed in every country where it has been
tried.

A radical new approach is needed. One that has been tried elsewhere and
which has proven that it has a real chance of success.
How many Daily Record readers realise that last year Portugal joined Spain
and Italy in decriminalising the use of and possession of both cannabis and
heroin?

This was done so that drug users could be treated as people who need advice
and help rather than as criminals, allowing police to concentrate their
efforts on catching the heroin-importing Mr Bigs.

How many Daily Record readers realise that since Holland legalised the
growing and sale of small amounts of cannabis, the average age of heroin
addicts has continually gotten older - and is now 39.

Meanwhile, in Scotland where cannabis is illegally sold alongside heroin in
our communities the average age of heroin addicts is just 24 and falling.
How many Daily Record readers realise that in Switzerland over 1000 addicts
are prescribed heroin on a daily basis? None of these have died from
overdoses nor have they been involved in property crime to feed their
addiction.

A national referendum in Switzerland in 1997 voted overwhelmingly to
continue prescribing heroin to addicts because people know its working.
Do Daily Record readers realise that according to the Scottish Drugs Forum
such a project would actually SAVE the taxpayer £3 (from police and courts
budgets) for every £1 the scheme costs to run? Plus cut property crime by
over 50 per cent?

Think about it.

You won't read about any of these initiatives in the Daily Record. Why?
Because the Daily Record is part of the problem rather than part of the
solution.

They attack any politician who wants to change Britain's unworkable drug
laws - then cynically call a march against the evil of drugs a few weeks
before a general election knowing that the politicians will fall in line for
fear of being seen as soft on drugs.

The four main parties ARE soft on heroin addiction because their policies
have failed time and time again. The Daily Record is equally clueless.
If these people really want to see heroin addiction tackled effectively then
they would support the SSP's call for decriminalising drug use, licensing
the sale of cannabis, and putting heroin on prescription.

These last two policies, when combined with providing the necessary detox,
rehab and advice centres are the ones the big drug dealers fear most.
These policies would put them out of business for good. That's what we want.
Not marches which are used to cynically sell newspapers and let off a bit of
steam.

These measures are absolutely vital NOW. But even they won't stop a future
generation from being attracted to drug abuse.
To counter that we need to give young people a future that is attractive.
One where they are guaranteed decent jobs with proper training and rates of
pay.

And we need to create communities which have quality housing designed by
local people, with excellent sports and recreational facilities that are
affordable to all.

The political parties and newspapers who genuinely campaign for these
necessary initiatives are the only ones serious about tackling heroin
addiction.

Think about it.