Everyone Vs. Peter Reynolds (Lol)

March 30, 2012

in Opinion, Personal

Peter Reynolds campaigning in the Corby by-electionYou know, when I see political scandals unfolding on a news cycle and people say, “I’m not resigning, I’m not resigning, ok, I’m resigning”, I’ve often wondered what made them turn around and realise the game was up. What would happen, I wondered, if they just stuck it out and refused to recognise the lack of public support? Well, now I know, and the result isn’t pretty.

We left the saga of Peter Reynolds, dear reader, many weeks ago when Peter Reynolds was threatening to sue me for lying about him. What lies these were were never specified, but I got harrassing messages fishing for my address anyway. I asked for legal advice, got “this is total bollocks” back, and got on with, you know, that drug law reform organisation I work for, and that degree I do.

It seems that Peter Reynolds also got on with running a serious cannabis law reform campaign, uniting users and activists in a solid front against the forces of prohibition- lol, jk, he totally wrote this about me to ElectroPig™ Von FökkenGrüüven, who published this piece on my blog about his efforts to mobilise a cannabis information roadshow and presumably asked Peter Reynolds if he could do the same thing:

With respect EVF, anything written by Sarah McCulloch is toxic. She is a schemer, a liar and an enemy of the cause.

CLEAR and I would be happy to support your initiative but we wouldn’t go anywhere near anything this woman does. She is an embarrassment to everyone in Britain who shares our cause.

Kind regards,

Peter Reynolds

Nice to see that calm, professional manner that everyone so admires. I’m the embarrassment, obvs, not the guy who told a woman objecting to his posting a picture of a woman naked but for strategically placed cannabis, “Oh Rachel, or is it Anne Widdecombe! Don’t be so hard on me and then I won’t be on you. ;)”

Anyways, it seems that things came to a head when the Mail on Sunday asked Peter Reynolds to write an article on cannabis prohibition for them and what he actually did last Friday was write an article about how cannabis is bad for you and attacking UK420, the largest home-growing discussion board in the UK with over 50,000 users. And when Chris Bovey and Greg de Hoedt (Cannabis Cure UK) objected, he called them trolls, liars, lalala. So they tabled a motion of no confidence:

In view of the detrimental controversy surrounding remarks made by Peter Reynolds and his dictatorial leadership style, we feel it would be in the best interests of CLEAR for Peter Reynolds to stand down as leader. Therefore we propose a vote of no confidence in Peter Reynolds and further propose an interim leader(s) should be appointed by the Executive and ballot of the membership should be called to appoint a new Executive and leader as soon as possible.

Proposed by Chris Bovey
Seconded by Greg de Hoedt

Aha! An opportunity for Peter Reynolds to face down his critics. His trolling, tiny band of critics who were just stopping Peter Reynolds from proclaiming THE TRUTH by using as many different puns on the word “clear” as possible. Brilliant opportunity to reclaim the agenda of the cannabis movement, rally the troops behind you, and boldly strike forth against the real enemies, the prohibitionists. Or you could actually just unilaterally suspend the two motion proposers and announce that their motion against you is therefore invalid because you suspended them. That’ll work. Chris Bovey later commented:

Chris Bovey comments on Peter Reynolds
And then, hugely but genuinely coincidentally, the Clear website broke. Someone tried to upgrade some software and it all went a bit wrong, it seems. They couldn’t fix it though, because the only person who knows what they’re doing with IT, it turns out, is Chris Bovey – whom Peter Reynolds had just fired. And so they tried to fix it some more, and now the entire website looks like this:

Clear website after they tried to fix it

Oh, and while this was going on Mark Palmer, another member of the Executive, resigned because he didn’t want to deal with Peter Reynolds anymore. With me so far? That leaves Peter Reynolds, Jan Wells, and Derek Williams standing out of an Exec that consisted of eight people two months ago. Des Humphrey, Sanj Choudhary have already been vocal but Chris Bovey released an interview with Politics UK about what’s it’s like on the inside of Clear, and Greg posted two videos pointing out that Peter Reynolds has threatened both himself and eight medicinal cannabis users that we know of, with police and/or court action for criticising him:

Several of those people have got in contact to say that they’re sorry that Peter Reynolds wrote about me the way he did, and I thank them for having the courtesy to do so. It is appreciated. I admit, though, it would’ve been nice if I had got these messages at the time that I was having to defer exams, call solicitors, and spend five hours giving statements to the police (yeah, Peter Reynolds’ blogposts about me probably didn’t disappear because he suddenly developed a sense of perspective…). And I should also point out, among the three suspensions and three voluntary resignations, that if everyone had recognised the writing on the wall in February, instead of resigning as they individually couldn’t take it any more, Peter Reynolds would no longer be leader and the Clear website would not currently have gone the way of the dodo. But these things happen.

Did I say three suspensions and three resignations? Oh yeah. Literally as I started writing this, Derek Williams, probably the only person supporting Peter Reynolds who wasn’t a sock puppet at this point, just resigned. He wrote in his resignation statement here:

My only reason for being involved in CLEAR was to support a serious cannabis law reform campaign, this has now become impossible and it is with great regret that I can no longer be involved. So I resigned today, I am no longer a member of the CLEAR exec.

This does mean now that Peter Reynolds and Jan Wells are now the only members of the Executive left. Maybe. The fact is that the constitution of Clear is legally binding, and so far as I am aware, Greg and Chris were both unconstitutionally (and therefore illegally) suspended from the Party Executive. Peter Reynolds has authority to set policy, not throw people out when it suits him, especially when they happen to be coincidentally trying to remove him as leader. But I have no standing to do anything about that.

I will be very intrigued to see what happens now, I have literally never heard of a situation where the entire ruling body of a membership-based group resigns/is expelled en masse, the website is taken down, an ever increasing number of entirely verifiable stories about the goings on of the party are published for the consumption of thousands (just check out the stats on Greg’s video)… and the leader just thumbs his nose at the situation and declares he’s the best thing that ever happened to it. Really, what? I look forward to his appearance at London 420, at any rate…

What I think is really, really important to realise about the significance about these latest resignations/firings is that they’re not about what Peter Reynolds blogged about two years ago, or his personal views on gay people/women/black people/people who aren’t Tories. It’s not about the sex profiles which he uploaded to the internet and then denied ever having done, or the fact that he’s made up half of his CV. It was about cannabis, the reason that we’re all here talking this – Peter wrote an article that was factually incorrect and which harmed the cannabis cause, and then when people called him on it, claimed they were incompetent because they’re stoners:

Clear website after they tried to fix it
How long can the leader of a cannabis party stay in power while publicly condemning cannabis users for using cannabis?

Also, sign the petition. People are signing it faster than they’re joining Clear!

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Stuart Wyatt March 30, 2012 at 3:07 pm

Brilliant stuff Sarah.

So Mr Reynolds, have you resigned yet? If not, why not?

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a quiet man March 31, 2012 at 4:09 am

I hope peter reynolds stays in his position as he is the only campaigner to actually do anything positive to reform cannabis law. now that your campaign of harassment has been exposed and your fellow anti clear campaigners have been caught red handed hacking and hijacking the clear web site i wonder will the rest of your supporters want anything more to do with you guys. the law around cannabis is wrong but to decide your spite gives you the right to break any law you want and to attack the clear site shows why the cannabis campaign has gone nowhere for the last 20 years you have made fools of yourselves with this shambolic attack on Clear and please dont hide behind the it was not me it was those other guys defense or will you try to blame peter? but as you are the troll in chief of these fools will you stand up and take responsibility ? anyone who has followed this pathetic attempt to stop clear and its message can see your real motives are more about protecting the criminal black market and stopping any real reform now you are exposed how will you twist this i wonder well it matters not you are exposed and peter reynolds will get my vote over idiots like you and your friends every time. it is funny to watch you guys because i never believed for one min that this was anything other than an attack by vested interests, police ,criminals i dont know who you represent but i know its not cannabis users

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sarah March 31, 2012 at 10:06 am

Hello,

I’m not entirely convinced that you’re a real person, but I will offer you the courtesy you did not show me by assuming that you are. I am quite flattered that you consider me the “troll-in-chief” – I actually don’t have time for that because I spend most of my time on drug law reform: you can have a wander around my organisation here to demonstrate this: http://www.revisiondrugs.org.

Now bearing that in mind, I think that you should set aside this narrative of “Everyone in the cannabis movement is jealous of Peter Reynolds because he’s such a brilliant campaigner” and seriously consider the facts:

The first fact is that I am not a cannabis law reformer, I’m a drug law reformer, which means that I don’t spend most of my time campaigning on the personal freedom to use a specific psychoactive drug. I mainly work in drug law and racism. Oh, and I’m Jewish. And a woman. So when I see a supposed “leader” within my movement calling Jews “evil” and making sleazy remarks to women, and saying that we should deport Chinese people legally here and referring to the one ethnic minority member of the Clear Executive as a “paki”, then I have a massive, massive problem with that. How can I spend my days saying we must end the drug war now because it is racist and ignore a man being actively racist within my own movement? The way Peter Reynolds treats minorities is abominable, and that was the source of my original interest – I first posted about his homophobic blogposts that he stood by, and that he defended, and still defends. I’m not a part of the fractious cannabis community, although I would call a lot of them my friends now since this all started.

The second fact is that, because I am not a cannabis law reformer but a drug law reformer, I have a much greater grip on how the drug policy field works in Britain and how Peter Reynolds is perceived within it than people who restrict themselves to reading Clear’s Facebook updates. And perhaps the only side you get is Peter Reynolds’ justifications after the fact for his shunning by different organisations, but the reality is that I get messages pretty much every time I post about Peter Reynolds informing me that most drug policy organisations in Britain have an active policy against ever working with Peter Reynolds, because of the way he treats people, because of his views, and because of his policies on cannabis. Now, they aren’t going to get drawn into this mess taking place in a corner of the internet because they work full-time on making drug law reform a reality, but the fact is that every drug policy NGO has to pool resources and collaborate with others in order for us all to achieve our own ends. Peter Reynolds genuinely seems to believe that he alone can change our drug laws, and posts constantly about doing so, but it wasn’t him that got the Sentencing Guidelines for cannabis changed, it was a decade or more of campaigning by Release and Transform. And he promptly trashed Release (who have at least eight lawyers on staff that I’m aware of) for quietly pointing out that he was completely wrong about what those guidelines had been changed to. This is no mere online campaign, mr. quiet man, this is a decision made by hundreds, if not thousands of people, that they have no desire to have anything to do with Peter Reynolds, and the cannabis campaign will be held back from the family of nations until you get rid of him.

The third fact is that Peter Reynolds is not, in fact, a brilliant campaigner. He doesn’t actually campaign for cannabis law reform, he blogs about it. Who built the Clear website? Chris Bovey. Who set up the original Comment Warriors campaign? Alun Buffry with the LCA. Who started the cannabis roadshows, which has now stopped since he resigned? Des Humphrey. Why hasn’t Clear held any public events, such as holding an election campaign? Or actively starting local groups? Why have hundreds of cannabis clubs started up this year instead of local Clear groups? Because people don’t want anything to do with Peter Reynolds (and I know this because at least six cannabis clubs have emailed me to tell me so). Because he can’t mobilise anyone and doesn’t really want to, he wants to get in the press but because he hasn’t laid that basic groundwork, no-one responds to his press releases, and he’s reduced to promoting his appearance on a former arts college community radio station as if it was somehow is any way comparable to The Independant’s front page headline Transform and Release managed to secure last year calling for the legalisation of all drugs! This isn’t us pulling Peter Reynolds down, it’s Peter Reynolds thinking he’s God’s gift to cannabis law reform and Peter Reynolds being very, very wrong.

And the fourth fact is that, whatever you actually think of the merits of what Peter Reynolds says versus what the people against him say, Peter Reynolds is by any standard an extremely bad leader. The reason you see all this guff in the media about whether this or that latest news item threatens Ed Miliband’s “authority” or not is because party leader govern by popular consent. They have to inspire the party membership to follow them, the party hierarchy to obey them, and then if something goes wrong, they have to act decisively, firmly, and with a good grasp of all the different factors involved. What exactly does it say about Peter Reynolds’ qualities as a leader that Clear basically cannot function anymore because he has been so delegitimised as party leader, but he refuses to stand in a leadership election and (illegally) expels anyone from the party for suggesting it? What does it say about Peter Reynolds’ ability to manage his “cabinet” that he has managed to fire or force to resign eight exec members in just over four months, leaving him with just one, who also wants a leadership election? Were these people trolls before or after he asked them to join the Executive? Could you imagine what would happen if that happened to Ed Miliband?

Fifth fact: Ignore everything, everything everyone has said or established about Peter Reynolds in the last two months, and focus solely on the way he has handled crises. He published a phenomenally bigoted and nasty personal attack on me that, it turns out, was the decisive turning point for most of the remaining Clear Exec members. He posted vindictive statements about other drug policy NGOs on the official Clear website. He called the leader of a student group a “two-faced toad”. He has threatened me with legal action and published this threat to thousands of people. He has called the police on known medicinal cannabis users and threatened cannabis growers with telling the police about them. He has suggested that Greg is incompetent to criticise him because he smokes too much weed. He has dismissed a petition signed by nearly 300 people calling for his resignation as the work of “trolls”. All of these actions were entirely his own, no-one made him do them and in every case there was an alternative option that didn’t involve pissing more people off.

Now consider those facts instead of sending me daft messages about how I am just being spiteful and I’m somehow a tool for the police and organised crime at the same time, and recognise that Peter Reynolds would go down as one of the most incompetant party leaders in UK history if anyone outside our community was paying any attention.

Sarah

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Chris Bovey April 26, 2012 at 9:57 pm

I might add that the former arts college community radio station wants nothing to do with Peter Reynolds, and Lou Collins wouldn’t have asked him on her show had she been aware of his blog and his deplorable attitude towards minority groups, medicinal users and women.

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Big Jim February 7, 2013 at 7:01 pm

Do you not think that this has gone on for too long, and distracts from the causes you should both be pursuing instead? Social media is strange and new (especially to those of *ahem* your generation, where you may have not had the privilege to grow up alongside it before its maturity), where comments and opinions are often misconstrued as fact; a tongue-in-cheek comment may be taken as a threat, etc. I won’t go into it too deeply as I don’t know the facts. This is my point; both sides of this have repeatedly hit out with stories that are more or less based on anecdotal evidence (as far as I can see that is publicly revealed on this blog and elsewhere on his bias), which is dismissable in real terms due to the hindsight and bias such evidence is open to. As such, it seems both sides of this slander campaign is rife with exaggeration, misinformation and selective quotation/references; this seems to me an awful waste of both parties’ energy and time, when you could set aside your differences and align towards a common goal. I may be wrong; Peter may well be a homophobe and a racist (although I argue his stance on Israel is that of anti-Zionism as opposed to anti-Semitism), but as the issue stands of this moment, this has been nothing less than a squabble of back-and-forths revolving around the expectation that a claim to what someone may or may have not said or condoned is enough as evidence – this gets us nowhere. I urge both of you to reconcile your differences and call an end to the slander so you may both concentrate on more worthwhile activist projects. Personal differences and snipes shouldn’t be holding back efforts towards reform of any kind! Thanks.

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sarah February 10, 2013 at 6:36 pm

Hi Jim,

I would struggle to read through any of my articles and see that they are based on is “anecdotal”. Everything I have written has been based on actual writings that are mostly still there today. I invite you to read them again, or look up the definition of anecdotal.

“I won’t go into it too deeply as I don’t know the facts.”

If you do not know the facts, I would advise you against having an opinion.

As for “Peter may well be a homophobe and a racist …, but as the issue stands of this moment, this has been nothing less than a squabble of back-and-forths”:

No. You do not dismiss derogatory and bigoted comments about minorities as “petty squabbling”. End of.

Sarah

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Glyn Wiliams March 31, 2012 at 12:19 pm

Well said Sarah,Obviously Peter Reynolds has totally lost his marbles,I see he is informing on more activists and members alike who take issue with his stance regarding remaining as leader when his position is clearly untenable.Does he seriously believe this will do him any favours,ye would have thought his stints in prison would have taught him …nobody likes a grass….RESIGN NOW PETER REYNOLDS

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Mike April 8, 2012 at 8:11 pm

He never had any marbles

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ricky griffiths April 1, 2012 at 1:07 am

I am a member of clear and i totally 100 percent agree with you sarah. Peter reynolds has gone way too far with this.As a member i have called for his resignation and am eagerly looking forward to take part if a vote is happening. keep up the good work sarah.

p.s hopefully when this has all blown over and we are united you could offer a hand to the cannabis movement specifically on a few matters.

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