- Removing the 10p rate of tax – Evan said that this was a disgraceful move, something the chancellor had tried to hide. He admonished those Labour MPs who had taken over a year to realise the consequence of this move, namely, doubling the tax rate for the poorest. He criticised our obsession with lower taxes, an obsession which focused purely on cutting the rate of income tax, without considering the unfair council tax, which we were committed to scrapping. He reflected that this was the opposite of what he thought Labour stood for. We want fairer taxes not more taxes, whilst both Labour and Tories are more interested in cutting Inheritance Tax which benefits only the top 5%.
- Reclassifying cannabis - He thought this was crazy, he had heard many government ministers arguing that they must ensure policies were based on evidence, having asked for advice, then would follow it. The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs had demonstrated quite clearly that there was no basis on which to reclassify back into class b,this would be counter productive, when the evidence is that when it was reclassified use fell. There was no basis for the criminalisation of 30% or more of young people in order to "send out a signal", what matters is what works to protect the health of people. (Go Evan Harris!) He further referred to the fact that there was much lower use in Holland where cannabis had been decriminalised.
Tory Cheryl Gillan supported Gordon Brown and argued that ACPO supports a return to class B, Evan's retort was brilliant - The police want 42 days detention, fortunately the police don’t run the country, politicians run the country!
- Should Gordon Brown accept the Olympic Torch - Evan's position was that just because we are part of the chain didn't mean we shouldn’t make a point, the Chinese reneged on their pledge on the development of society, including democracy and human rights. On that basis Gordon Brown should dissociate himself and as Nick Clegg as argued, shouldn’t go. He pointed out that fortunately Gordon Brown was not representing the country as an athlete otherwise he would still be on the starting block when the others had finished the race!
- Zimbabwe - not optimistic that this will end well, Mugabe would not call for a run off unless he thought he was going to win, it was already evident that there was interference in the process therefore Mugabe will not give up.
But, unfortunately my review, whilst reflecting what Evan said, cannot do justice to the way he came across and was received by the audience. We are truly fortunate that we have so many first class performers on our frontbench, who, when given the opportunity to champion our policies do such a great job.