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The good, the bad and the vague: assessing emerging Conservative drug policy

Watson, John


John Watson


New Labour came to power promising to offer a new, evidence based approach towards drug policy. However, despite early promise, the latter years of the Labour government descended towards tabloid led criminal justice populism. During the same period, the Conservative opposition often gave contradictory messages on policy, although they increasingly appeared to veer towards a hard-line, abstinence based approach. In power they have moved quickly to produce a drugs strategy that promises a move towards a 'recovery' agenda. This article reviews and evaluates the evolving Conservative Party policies on drugs misuse and explores whether the strategy lives up to its ambitious rhetoric and its stated aim to follow evidence based policies. It finds a mixture of laudable aims; vague and sometimes contradictory statements; proposals that are unsupported, and sometimes contraindicated, by evidence; and policy goals that are often at risk of being undermined by a wider policy agenda that threatens to marginalize people with drug problems still further. © The Author(s) 2012.


Watson, J. (2013). The good, the bad and the vague: assessing emerging Conservative drug policy. Critical social policy : CSP, 33(2), 285-304.

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date Sep 6, 2012
Publication Date May 1, 2013
Journal Critical social policy
Print ISSN 0261-0183
Electronic ISSN 1461-703X
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 33
Issue 2
Pages 285-304
Keywords Abstinence; Conservative; Drugs policy; Evidence; Harm reduction; Inequality; Stigma
Public URL
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