Much as I despise the term ‘statism’, which like ‘socialism’ has been overused into a meaningless oblivion, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more suitable term for the Labour Party’s approach to governing Britain. For better or worse, Labour’s solution to just about every problem that popped up between 1997 and 2010 involved some kind of state intervention.
Most troubling (to my mind) has been the encroachment on civil liberties as evidenced by the dramatic rise in CCTV and the extrajudicial legal system created by various anti-terrorism acts since 9/11. The absence of handgun-bearing police officers has merely softened the gradual, insidious reach of the government. Thankfully, that era may be coming to an end.
The fledgling Liberal Democrat-Conservative coalition government has a number of fundamental disagreements, but one of their shared values is that of civil liberties, and gradually they aim to begin rolling back the state (Guido Fawkes would also like to see the Labour Party crushed for all eternity, but that’s not a preordained outcome). None of the Labour policies have been making us any safer, and it seems like this country is coming around to that conclusion.
Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, will shepherd a “Great Repeal” bill through the House of Commons. Under the bill, the National ID Card program will be scrapped. A whole host of other Labour programs are due to be severely curtailed if not outright canceled, including DNA retention, anti-terror laws, databases, and the omnipresent CCTV. Details include:
:: New legislation to restrict the scope of the DNA database, probably reducing the length of time innocent people’s details are held to three years as is the case in Scotland.
:: Changes to ensure members of the public can protest peacefully without fear of being branded a criminal.
:: Overhaul draconian and unpopular counter-terrorism laws to strike a fresh balance between protecting the public and civil liberties.
:: New laws to better regulate the use of CCTV, particularly by local authorities and to ensure internet and email records are only stored when necessary.
It’s a good start.