Diary: Councillor reaches new high with cannabis tourism drive


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The Independent Online

Ben Duncan, a Green Party councillor and member of the Sussex Police Authority, has thought of a way to get Brighton's tourist trade on to a new high.

In the wake of a ruling by a Dutch judge, which means that foreign visitors can no longer get stoned in Amsterdam's cafés without fear of arrest, he has suggested that overseas potheads should be invited to come to Brighton and inhale more than just the sea air.

"Cannabis use can be harmful, but all analysis shows that it's much less likely to harm you than, say, driving a car, or crossing a road," Cllr Duncan argued on his blog. "While there are cases of ill health caused by cannabis these are best dealt with by bringing the use of cannabis "into the open". So what about it? Brighton, the liberal, tolerant, tourist capital of Europe?"

The question is worth asking as a public health measure and for the sake of Brighton's economy, he added. But "I expect to be misunderstood so I predict the following headline soon: 'Green Councillor calls for Brighton to be the Pot Capital of Europe'." If he gets drummed out of politics, he could think about a career as a headline writer.

A question of yahoo's who

During yesterday's angry exchanges in the Commons, that priceless Tory backbench MP Jacob Rees-Mogg denounced Ed Miliband as a "socialist yahoo". Some people foolishly thought he was accusing the Labour leader of being an internet search engine. That is obviously wrong. The internet is a contemporary phenomenon. Mr Rees-Mogg does not live in the 21st century in any meaningful way. His cultural reference was to Part IV of Gulliver's Travels, in which the hero arrives in a land ruled by intelligent horses, where the humans, or "yahoos", are like animals. In other words, he accused Ed Miliband of being uncouth but human.

That's enough for one Knight

Just because the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats are in bed together in Whitehall does not mean that they have all learnt to love one another. Stephen Knight is a prominent Lib Dem councillor in London, leader of their group on Richmond Council and second on their candidates' list for the London Assembly. He tweeted yesterday: "This Lib Dem's second preference vote certainly isn't going to the Tories! #sackboris."

Operation Lennon? Just imagine that

The military like to give their troop deployments names. Banner, Telic, Herrick, and Ellamy are what they call their operations in, respectively, Northern Ireland, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. But there is no name for the deployment 8,000 miles away in the Falkland Islands, where there have been troops stationed for 30 years. The Labour MP Madeleine Moon,who has recently visited the islands, said yesterday: "The service personnel think giving it an operational name would raise public awareness and remind people we have men and women based in the Falklands. It's pretty tough for them down there. Operational names are important to people in the military; it's about recognition of their contribution to something they consider to be of high value."

But she also acknowledged that it would not be a good idea to inflame opinion in Argentina, where the 30th anniversary of the war is not being forgotten.

Yesterday, Argentina's ambassador to London, Alicia Castro, grabbed her chance at the end of a meeting about human rights at Lancaster House to tackle William Hague about the islands they call "Las Malvinas". She urged him to "give peace a chance".

On that basis, why don't they call the Falklands mission Operation Lennon? If Buenos Aires complains, London can say it was their idea.

When Gorman gushed about Tom

The news that Teresa Gorman, the 81-year-old former MP for Billericay, has announced that she is backing the UK Independence Party, is an excuse to retell a story from 20 years ago, when Tom Bradby, the ITN political editor, first appeared in the Commons as a handsome young producer. In that role, he approached Gorman, who at the time was undergoing hormone replacement therapy. She was so charmed that she called one of ITN's political correspondents and commanded: "Have that boy scrubbed and sent to my room!"