I was on my way to bed when I stumbled across these two articles, both of which I think are prime examples of how the Liberal Democrats, uniquely of the main parties, are prepared to stick their necks out at conference to back radical but effective policy solutions to problems facing this country.
The first story is about brilliant proposals to do with ensuring the media acts responsibly and does not abuse its position of influence and power:
"An emergency motion, due to be published on Wednesday and discussed at [the Liberal Democrat] party conference next week, calls for the fines to be large enough to act as a real deterrent, and change the culture of newspapers in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal at News International.
The fines would be imposed on newspapers that breached the terms of a new newspaper code. They would also be required to put corrections in more prominent positions than at present.
In line with proposals from the information commissioner, the Lib Dems are also proposing that reporters found guilty of breaching the Data Protection Act on unlawfully obtaining material should be subject to custodial sentences. A previous attempt to make journalists liable to prison sentences was blocked following strong private lobbying by newspaper groups.
Nick Clegg's party is also proposing that competition authorities should be able to intervene on issues of media plurality not just at the point of a takeover, but also when a newspaper group is gradually increasing its shareholding in a company or its market share."The second story is to do with tackling the huge drug problem we face as a society by using evidence based methods which actually work rather than the failed ideological ones which successive governments have pursued for decades out of fear of negative tabloid reactions:
"Experts have backed calls to be made at the Liberal Democratsconference this weekend for the decriminalisation of all drugs, saying it would not lead to a surge in drug use.
The UK Drugs Policy Commission, which includes Professor Colin Blakemore, former chief executive of the Medical Research Council, and Dame Ruth Runciman, former chair of the Mental Health Act Commission, among its membership, says it backs the broad thrust of the Lib Dem motion to be debated on Sunday.
The motion calls for all criminal penalties for personal possession to be scrapped, the introduction of a regulated market in cannabis, and the expansion of heroin maintenance clinics for the most fervent users."I'm always proud to be a Lib Dem but that's especially true at times like this.