Source: Eastern Daily Press

Pub date: Saturday, April 30, 2005

Subj: Size Isn't Everything (extract)

Author: Mark Nicholls


Cited: Legalise Cannabis Alliance

         Don Barnard


A wasted vote? Certainly not, say the General Election candidates fighting the Norwich South seat for the smaller parties. MARK NICHOLLS caught up with four of them on the campaign trail.


It's 6pm on a sunny April evening in the centre of Norwich. Most of the shoppers have left and so have a good number of the people who work in the city centre stores.


Not much to go at for Don Barnard, candidate for the Legalise Cannabis Alliance (LCA) in the Norwich South constituency.


Yet he hands out leaflets with his supporters, advocating his party's policies as he attempts to engage passers-by in discussion.


One man stops, but there's no profit in it for Mr Barnard as the voter reveals he lives in the South Norfolk area.


Mr Barnard, 63, has picked a tough constituency to fight. There are eight candidates toughing it out for Norwich South: Labour, Liberal Democrat, Conservative, Green and the three other smaller parties of the Workers Revolutionary Party, English Democrats and UKIP.


He's up against Home Secretary Charles Clarke, and therein lies the point.


"We do not anticipate forming a government this time around," he concedes with an ironic grin and a rasp through smoking cigarettes and the drug he advocates the legalisation of.


For the smaller parties, it's about raising their profile and where better to do that than in a constituency where they will have the attention of the regional and national media who will be watching what happens to the Home Secretary who is defending a majority of 8816.


A single issue party, the LCA want to promote the benefits of Cannabis as a plant for its industrial, commercial and medical uses. And if they can smoke some along the way, all well and good they say.


"We believe cannabis is one of the safest and most valuable commodities on the planet. I want to see it used for all its potential uses, for social as well as medical," he said.


"I have not had a bad response on the street, but have had some extremely abusive telephone calls."


And a wasted vote?


"If someone votes for me," said Mr Barnard, "they will get a person that represents them in Parliament, not someone who concerned with protecting their own party interests.


"I am not sure how many people will vote for me, I intend to beat the last person that stood for us a here and get 5pc of the vote so as I can get my deposit back and give it to someone else to stand next time."


To top the LCA's 2001 standing, he'll need 621 crosses in boxes for a party basking in the glow of achieving its first party political broadcast this week, albeit on Welsh TV.