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Power, Influence and Strategy

Weekly blog continuing into month 3 – becoming almost habitual and at times cathartic.

Having made the rookie consultant error of not thinking about next assignments when in the middle of a busy period I have found myself with a bit more time on my hands over the last week or so. Been good to re-charge, think and read a bit. Just finished ‘Drug Policy Constellations’ by Alex Stevens who will be well known to many here. Despite being an academic text it’s really accessible and presents a thorough review of how drug policies are formed through the interactions of: individuals, agencies but more importantly power bases. Fascinating examples of how progressive legislative changes that were essentially forced into existence and then squashed when the ‘establishment’ felt the public’s attention was elsewhere. These same established voices within the political, Political and treatment sectors keep alive various ‘zombie policies’ in spite of the evidence against them.

That’s what I took from it anyway – apologies to Alex if the intent was different.

Similar power based constellations would seem to apply in the justice and other health spaces as well – why else would we be predicting a rise in the prison population of some 20k without batting an eyelid. Despite everything we know about the damaging effects of short term imprisonment.

In many ways it seemed a good companion piece to James O’Brien’s “How They Broke Britain” – whilst not using the language of policy actors or constellations the inter-connectedness between politics, media ownership and class position have essentially conspired to promote and sustain the populist culture we find ourselves in.

I then foundmyself aghast to read that the Secretary of State for Education has apologised and paid compensation to an academic for baslessley accusing them of being a HAMAS supporter. Except of course it won’t be the SoS who actually pays……

In more local news in my role as Chair of The Trust for Developing Communities I attended a city-wide presentation of what the organisation and our partners hve been doing in Brighton to reduce Health Inequalities in our most deprived and marginalised communities. It was an inspiring morning and great validation for the work the organisation has been doing for decades now – focusing attention and energies on communities of place and communities of interest has been a powerful way of taking NHS services to where they’re needed rather than expecting people to find their way to the NHS.

Also found ourselves in the stigmatising world of societal attitudes to people who use drugs or who have committed criminal offences – where a fledgling LERO is struggling to get a Bank account because of an offending history. We must surely be able to do better than this as a society.

Music-wise – very much enjoying the debut album by New Dad and looking forward to seeing Lime Garden on Friday night.

Next week of course – I’ll also have to think about work.

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