Editorial: New politics ...

IssueJune 2010
Comment by Milan Rai , Emily Johns

The formation of the Conservative-Liberal Democratic coalition government as the result of the UK general election signals changes on several fronts, but no change on the war and peace agenda.

Afghanistan was barely mentioned by the major political parties during the election campaign because, despite overwhelming public opposition to current policies, the war is a consensus position. While Trident replacement was mentioned in the election campaign, it was as a financial and not a political or moral issue. The Liberal Democrats did make a manifesto commitment to show disarmament leadership “by committing not to replace the Trident nuclear weapons system on a like-for-like basis.” However, this meant merely that they sought a cheaper way of maintaining a nuclear strike force, and the junior partners in the coalition have adapted easily to the Conservative Trident replacement process, excluding nuclear weapons from the strategic defence review.

Even so, there are some benefits to a LibCon government. NO2ID, which has been campaigning against identity cards and the database state for six years couldn’t help but “celebrate a little”: “The new government in its coalition agreement has adopted some of NO2ID’s most important aims as its own.”

The government says it will scrap the ID card scheme, the national identity register, the next generation of biometric passports and the ContactPoint database that was to have held details of all children under 18. The LibCons also say they will outlaw the fingerprinting of children at school without parental permission, adopt the protections of the Scottish model for the DNA database, and end storage of internet and email records without good reason. NO2ID is right to pay tribute to “the thousands of people who have each fought to change the hearts and minds of their friends, family and colleagues, local and national media, politicians, parties and government” in helping to create these changes. Equally, NO2ID is right to warn that “we cannot afford to be complacent.… Whitehall will not give up these empires without a fight.’

Another major contest is looming, as the government prepares to cut public sector services and employment. In that struggle, the peace movement has an important part to play in helping to resist the cuts agenda and at the same time identifying the social and financial benefits of a less warlike economy.

On another note, as winter finally passes, we see fantastic photos of the Sizewell anti-nuclear camp, and we wonder why people go abroad for holidays. Why not enjoy the summer at one of the protest camps, at Peace News Summer Camp? The finest, friendliest people go and the most interesting things happen....

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