More news from Derby – this time it’s a drugs jail sentence

Normanton ward in Derby is turning into a livelier political contest than most. Not only is it home to the political genius that is Ashley Waterhouse, but now Labour candidate Balbir Sandhu is in the news.

Following a local newspaper campaign to force candidates to publish details of their past lives, “Anything to Declare?”, Balbir Sandhu has admitted to serving a two year jail sentence for possessing drugs 27 years ago:

Mr Sandhu said he supported the campaign and wanted the public to make their decision on who they voted for on May 5 with all the facts.

“People should know if a candidate has done anything wrong,” he said.

“If you are in the front line, whether it’s standing as a councillor or being a community leader, people should know your past.”

Mr Sandhu said he spent two years in prison from 1984 after being found in possession of heroin.

“I got mixed up with the wrong crowd one summer and it was the biggest mistake of my life,” said Mr Sandhu, who was 25 at the time.

“I let my family down and the community down.” [Derby Telegraph]

On the face of it, a two year jail sentence 27 years ago is not something you should necessarily hold against a candidate.

So I will admit to being a little surprised at the reaction of one local Liberal Democrat:

Liberal Democrat candidate Dawn Gee said she felt Mr Sandhu should stand down.

“If we are talking about honesty in politics, the whole point is to clean up politics. I believe that anyone convicted of a serious crime should not have the opportunity to represent the people of our city. The candidate should immediately stand down.

“In addition to this, the nature of this crime is also very worrying. We are wanting to eradicate drug crime within our city and I do not believe that the way forward is to be represented by an individual that has a background of serious criminal activity in this area.”

Unless there’s more to the story that meets the eye, on that I disagree – serving this sort of two year jail sentence should not ban you from every standing for office again. Rehabilitation anyone?

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