Calling Techno Tories

by Henry Fisher

We are delighted to be partnering again with the Adam Smith Institute, and for the first time with the Night Time Industries Association, to present a fringe event at this year’s Conservative Party Conference on club drugs, harm reduction, and the night time economy.

Clubbing may not be all attendees’ top priority, but with the Conference returning to Manchester, a city that can claim ownership of clubbing culture like no other in the UK, it is a perfect fit for a debate on the opportunities and the threats to the industry. Estimated to contribute £66 billion annually to the national economy, as well as a major source of social and cultural capital, nighttime venues are nonetheless placed in a precarious position, with zero tolerance approaches to drugs and local government priorities often at odds with pragmatic solutions for protecting their customers.

Preventing club drug deaths: a new approach

Preventing drug deaths in nightclubs will require a change of approach. Existing strict approaches often lead to unintended consequences promoting riskier behaviour and shifting drug use into uncontrolled environments. As drug purity has increased, we’ve seen significant rises in club drug related deaths, in particular cocaine and MDMA.

The failure of existing drug policy is leading to nightclub closures. But new approaches like The Loop’s Multi Agency Safety Testing are having a real impact with harm reduction. What can the Government learn from this and what are the broader implications for drug policy?

Volteface, The Adam Smith Institute, and the Night Time Industries Association have assembled a panel of leading experts to discuss this new approach to cutting club drug deaths.


Paul Staines, Guido Fawkes (Chair)

Long before founding the most feared source of political news in all of Westminster, Paul led another life as a promoter of raves and acid house parties for the Sunrise Collective during the 1980s and 90s, establishing the Freedom to Party Campaign in the face of an objectionable government at the 1990 Conservative Party Conference. While these days may now be hazy memories, the dangers of the drugs that defined the scene then are still very present for today’s clubbers.

Professor Fiona Measham, Director, The Loop

Fiona is professor of criminology at Durham University, having studied drug policy and the ever evolving drug market for over 25 years, and sits on the Government’s Advisory Council for the Misuse of Drugs. She has often been at the forefront of identifying new drug trends, and in 2013 co-founded harm reduction organisation The Loop, which has provided its public drug testing service at a number of UK festivals for both this and last summer.

Dr Henry Fisher, Science and Health Policy Director, Volteface

Henry regularly writes and comments on drug policy within the media through his role at Volteface, and has called for more innovative regulatory approaches to the drug market. He is also one of The Loop’s senior chemists, having previously completed a PhD in pharmaceutical chemistry.

Alan Miller, Chair, Night Time Industries Association

Alan is the Chairman of The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), which promotes the cultural, economic and social benefits of 24 hour cities and nightlife across the UK. Representing some of Britain’s most loved venues and championing ambassadors for nightlife with Mayors, helping set up Night Time Commissions and Night Czars both here and abroad, since its inception The NTIA has quickly helped change the practical landscape of stakeholders attitudes to nightlife. Alan co-founded London’s Old Truman Brewery business cultural centre and is creator of The Vibe Bar, which ran for almost 20 years on Brick Lane.

Sacha Lord Marchionne, Founder, Warehouse Project and Parklife Festival

One of the biggest names on the Manchester music and event production scene for over 20 years, Sacha has also been a vocal supporter of harm reduction within the night time economy, and has worked with The Loop to provide back of house testing services at both the Warehouse Project and Parklife Festival.

The panel will take place 6-7pm, Tuesday 3rd October, at a popular Manchester venue. If you are interested in attending, please email with your name and reasons for interest/affiliation

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