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Queen's speech: New Labour's terror card
THE ANNUAL fancy-dress opening of Parliament, the Queen's Speech, showed that New Labour wants to divert voters' gaze away from issues such as education and the NHS. Cuts in vital public services and privatisation have alienated many traditional Labour voters.
The speech concentrated on law and order issues. Blair and Co presumably hope they can fight the next election, as Bush did in the USA, on the basis of fear and insecurity.
It left out many controversial ideas that Home Secretary David Blunkett had raised, such as trying terror suspects without juries. Civil rights activists had warned that the principle of being innocent until proved guilty was being swept aside.
But some of Blunkett's 'law and order' bills are being announced as part of the 'fight against international terrorism'. He proposes compulsory national identity (ID) cards with unique 'identifiers' based on eye-scanning and a database to underpin them.
Blunkett is using the fear of terrorism to push through his cherished plan. He claims ID cards are needed to stop Britain being targeted by terrorists but Spain had an ID system in operation at the time of the Madrid bombings.
Blunkett admits that ID cards won't just be used to target criminals and terror suspects - vulnerable groups such as asylum seekers will also be in his sights. And who else? Trade unionists? Community campaigners?
What's to stop the information on the cards being increased to include such details as political affiliation and campaigning activities?
Blunkett is giving the state increased powers. According to The Independent, the bill will give the government 'special enabling powers' to ensure that a vaguely defined 'access to specified services' is linked to producing a valid ID card. So the scope of the legislation can be extended without further discussion.
New Labour wants an election which ignores the main issues and becomes a competition between Blunkett, the Tories and other right-wingers over who can act toughest.
The Socialist Party is standing in a number of seats in next year's elections to give a real alternative to Blair's war, cuts and privatisation. If you agree with our priorities rather than Blair's, join us and start by donating to our general election fund!
In The Socialist 27 November 2004:
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