Tories urge Cameron to surrender the war on drugs

The Conservatives should go into the general election pledging a partial decriminalisation of drugs, an influential Tory group has suggested.

Bright Blue, which counts Theresa May, Francis Maude, Andrew Mitchell and David Willetts among its members, said the war on drugs had clearly failed and that the Tories could tempt young and ethnic minority voters to the party with a radical proposal on drugs.

"What is clear is that much more needs to be done on the development of drugs policy in the UK as the current situation is both economically and socially damaging," director Ryan Shorthouse told the Independent.

"We believe that the Conservatives at the next election need to be seen to be taking on the big, difficult issues facing society and not be distracted by the Ukip agenda of Europe and immigration."

The call was the most controversial proposal in a policy document which also suggested scrapping universal winter fuel payments, excluding students and highly skilled workers from the immigration target, ensuring new teachers have at least a 2:1 degree and abandoning automatic pay rises for doctors and nurses.

The push for drug liberalisation comes as part of a global trend toward a more liberal stance on narcotics, following half a century of expensive and broadly ineffective efforts to wipe out the drug trade.

The Liberal Democrats and the home affairs committee have called for a royal commission on drug policy and for more thorough assessments of experiments with legalisation overseas, including in various US states.

Some individual Labour MPs support those calls, but the party leadership remains dead-set against reform.

David Cameron once personally advocated a more liberal approach to drugs but as prime minister he has refused to budge.