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Editorial Legislating for niceness

The Labour government may have received a good “telling off” at the polls last month but, even with their much-reduced parliamentary majority, they have wasted no time in setting out a controversial agenda for this term.

Through the Queen's Speech and the unseemly haste with which non-elected advisers - such as Andrew Adonis - were pushed through the back door into positions of influence, no-one can be in doubt about the authoritarian course this government has chosen.

The resuscitation of the ID card bill, further plans to tighten the immigration and asylum system, the continuing “reform” of the NHS and benefits system, and proposals for new anti-terrorism measures, are just some of the agenda items that the government intend pushing through over the next few years.

Means and ends

Some of the proposals don't sound too bad at first glance: a criminal offence of Corporate Manslaughter; establishing a Commission for Equality and Human Rights; legislation to reduce road causalities, and a bland statement about “continuing to work to prevent terrorism and the proliferation of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons”.

However, experience suggests that, while busy tying themselves up in oodles of legislative knots, somehow the binds tend to remain amazingly loose enough for easy escape when it comes to the crunch.

From domestic laws such as the Hunting Act, to international treaties like the NPT, there is usually a get-out if you have money and power on your side.

The bottom line is that you can legislate your socks off, but in itself it can never deal with the underlying issues of why we have - for example - ten road fatalities each day, or people killed in the workplace, or anti-social behaviour.

Banning hoodies, doling out ASBOs like poisoned candy, increasing speed limits, promising to encourage deregulation (with one million fewer inspections of business), and investing billions in Britain's nuclear weapons facilities, are hardly likely to achieve the more worthy goals mentioned above.

Poor role models

Tony Blair has indicated that he wants to create a society based on fairness and respect. Wow! What a good idea! No-one has ever thought of that before!

Unfortunately, he and his government hardly present a great role model, what with the war, the lies, the curbing of civil liberties, the persecution of travellers, deporting genuine asylum seekers, supporting the bosses at the expense of the workers, and so on.

Four more years

So it looks as though campaigners and activists from a very broad range of peace, social, environmental, economic, rights and identity based struggles are going to have their work cut out for them over the next four years, with daily acts of resistance required. Peace News will continue to be a home for the news and views of all those who share nonviolent tactics and who struggle for a genuinely fair and peaceful society.

In unity we will discover strength.

Topics: Westminster