Today was a great day for me.
Politics is rarely about instant victories. Success is measured in the micro-surgery of thousands of small events. My campaign for a European Convention on drugs started five years ago with a meeting with the International Red Cross / Red Crescent societies. With the help of an international think tank I presented a report to the Social & Health Committee of the Council of Europe.
I traipsed around Europe talking to dozens of politicians seeking common ground on drugs on which a consensus could be built. In October two years ago my report was passed without opposition by the Council of Europe. It was then approved in principle by the Council of Ministers. The body that has to create and introduce the Convention is the Pompidou Group. I spoke to their meeting in Warsaw last November. There is now a strong bow wave of support building up.
The Pompidou Group produced a magnificent detailed feasibility study with authoritative details of the advantages and possible problems ahead. Today in Strasbourg, two other expert bodies submitted their assessments of the feasibility study. Both were enthusiastic and made suggestions for improving the Convention. So far, so promising. The next hurdle is to gain support from a majority of the countries that make up the Pompidou Group. The omens are good The process will continue for at least two more years.
I am now convinced that the Convention will become a reality. At worst it could be a bureaucratic irrelevance. At best it could improve drug policies, save ten of thousands of lives and avoid the waste of the spending of £billions on failing policies.
The work is almost all behind the scenes. Often the less attention a campaign has the greater chance of success. It will be a long haul. It is the biggest job I've ever tackled in politics. I need four more years to complete it. Voters please note.
Who will accept the prize?
There was intrigued speculation in Strasbourg today. The British Labour Party had won the second European Prize for gender equality. The Male Portuguese Leader of his delegationwas lined up to accept the first prize. Would the Leader of the British delegation follow suit?
That's John Prescott.
His recent comments about Harriet Harman's policy on gender equality might have been a tad embarrassing. The Welsh Baroness Anita Gale was recruited to accept the prize was for Labour's positive discrimination for women candidates.
Anita was an appropriate recipient because the Labour Party in Wales has been more successful than the UK party in getting women elected.
Today I heard about a daring project housing project with an inspired name.
It's in Marseilles and has homes for the elderly cheek by jowl with homes for the very young. It a bold idealistic concept. I wish it well. There will be inevitable problems. It has a great start with its title.
It's called Osmosis.