Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The New coalition's Manifesto

OK - now we have an unholy alliance in charge - I guess it's time to make the best of what we've got. This - picked from the guardian's political blog - is what I see as the highlights of the new programme:

• A great repeal or freedom bill to scrap the ID card scheme and the national identity register and the next generation of biometric passports

• Extending the scope of the Freedom of Information bill to provide greater transparency

* Adopt protections of the Scottish model for the DNA database

• Protecting trial by jury

• Reviewing libel laws to protect freedom of speech

• Further regulation of CCTV and other items

• Measures to boost economy in key areas such as low-carbon industries and investment in infrastructure. A green investment bank, a smart grid, retention of energy performance certificates while scrapping home information packs.

Banking reform

• A banking levy will be introduced.

• Bonuses will be tackled.

• A "more competitive banking industry".

• More credit to flow to businesses. The proposals of the respective parties will be looked at before deciding which is the better one.

• An independent commission will be set up to consider Lib Dem proposals to separate retail and investment banking and the Tories' proposals for a quasi separation. An interim report will be published within a year.

• The Bank of England could be given control of macro prudential regulation and oversight of micro prudential regulation under proposals to be put forward.

• Referendum to bring in some form of alternative vote system. Coalition members will be subject to three-line whip to force the legislation for a referendum through, but they will be free to campaign against the reforms before referendum.

• Reducing the tax burden on low earners. This could go some way towards the Lib Dem aim of lifting tax threshold to £10,000.

• A wholly or mainly elected house of Lords.

From the No 2 ID website

NO2ID comment:
By midday on 7th May 2010, as we write this, who will form the next government of the UK is unclear, but the popular mandate on ID cards is unanswerable. Of 622 seats declared, 370 have MPs who stood on a manifesto commitment to scrap the ID scheme. The popular vote is even more decisive: those parties opposed to the scheme took 19.1 million votes in those seats where we know the results. That is 70% of the poll. [source: BBC]
All that is without counting those on the Labour benches whom we know to be skeptical of or outright opposed to the assault on liberty and privacy presented by the National Identity Register.
This Parliament has been elected with a mandate to repeal the Identity Cards Act 2006. Implicit in that is a promise not to let any alternative scheme grow up. MPs must also block any Home Office attempt to use 'passport modernisation' to create a de facto national database.
Whatever you voted, please help NO2ID ensure that this mandate is respected.
UPDATE, 8th MAY 2010: With just one seat left to declare, 384 constituencies across the UK are now represented by MPs who stood on a manifesto commitment to scrap ID cards. Parties opposed to the ID scheme took almost 20.7 million votes, or 69.7% of the poll. [source: BBC]

So - it looks like ID cards are on the way out. I wonder - it could be naivety on the part of the Lib Dems here; have they considered the international ramifications. ID cards and the Database State are being driven by Europe...I wouldn't be surprised to see ID cards come back in a new guise.

Also - the coalition, especially the Lib Dems - would do well to remember that civil liberties that only benefit the well off are not civil liberties at all. If the rich poor divide is not reduced then they are worthless reforms. The opposite in fact - while the wealthy exert their rights the poor will be left even further behind. Civil liberties are worthless if you live trapped on a crumbling council estate without work or prospects of improving your education; or for those working long hours and getting deeper in debt every day that passes, barely able to afford to pay your bills and feed your children, never mind finding time to become an active citizen.

I remain a socialist in that respect - unless we make society more equal then all other reforms are a waste of time.

And nowhere do I see the biggest injustice of all being challenged - the mighty rule of the corporation, which gives us such benefits as an extremely biased media, dumbed down popular culture, corrupt politicians, an eternal war for oil and gas, dodgy arms deals, monoculture on our high streets and in our cities, gradual creeping privatisation of common resource, massive tax avoidance and syphoning off of wealth to tax free havens, the imperative for a dumbed down easily exploited work force, etc. etc.

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