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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 October 2006, 11:19 GMT 12:19 UK
Drugs worse than drink say Tories
Cannabis plant
Tory activists voted on the issue using interactive keypads
Conservative activists have voted overwhelmingly against a motion claiming that alcohol does more harm than drugs.

Members defeated the move by 63% to 37% following emotional appeals from the father of two drug addict sons and a recovering alcoholic.

Ex-newspaper editor Rosie Boycott urged people not to underestimate the death and destruction alcohol could cause.

But the conference was also told drug dealers were controlling Glasgow.

That warning came from Jim Doherty, who runs the Gallowgate Family Support Group in Glasgow's East End.

The pair made their heartfelt appeals during a "hot topic" debate at the Conservative party conference in Bournemouth.

Violence warning

Ms Boycott, a reformed alcoholic who edited the Daily Express and The Independent newspapers, argued that alcoholism was not something she would wish on her worst enemy.

She said it resulted in family breakdown, caused suffering to people around those affected, fuelled murders and was responsible for countless work days lost to hangovers.

We are burying young people - we're burying 13-year-olds who have over-dosed
Jim Doherty
Gallowgate Family Support Group

Ms Boycott, who ran a campaign calling for personal use of cannabis to be decriminalised, said: "The violence that comes from alcohol is huge.

"If my teenage daughter was in a back alley and she bumped into six young men who'd either consumed 25 cans of Special Brew or smoked a few joints which would I rather happen?

"I have to say I'd rather she met the guys who smoked the joints because the chances are they'd just fall over rather than try to rape her or mug her."

Mr Doherty said two of his sons had become drug addicts.

"I believe drugs are causing more harm than alcohol," he said. "We are burying young people - we're burying 13-year-olds who have over-dosed.

"Drug dealers control our communities - the scum that are making a living out of people's misery."

Ecstasy warning

Mr Doherty's stance was backed by a police officer who claimed he had seen too many people's lives taken from them by crack cocaine.

A child forensic psychologist said she could foresee the use of ecstasy resulting in "a lot of people with early on-set Alzheimer's" in 40 years time.

"You can take a teeny weenie bit of ecstasy and it can leave a sodding great footprint on your brain," she said.

However, one representative from Somerset, said binge drinking was the real problem in rural areas like his.

And compere Dr David Bull said as a former accident and emergency doctor his caseload "was alcohol related rather than drug related".

The result of the interactive vote will not affect party policy.

On Wednesday activists will be asked to give their views on the last "hot topic", entitled "global companies are a force for good".


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