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Labour manifesto: More ID cards, less NHS IT

New Labour, mostly old policies

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Labour policy on education will help provide the skilled workforce to support all of the above. Britain will need more graduates than ever before – and Labour intends to deliver.

When it comes to law and order, Labour’s view is that crime is down - the reason that more people are in prison is because they are being tougher on serious offenders. They intend to continue with more of the same, protecting front line policing through the economic downturn.

There will be further clampdowns on anti-social behaviour, lap-dancing clubs, alcohol and illegal drugs – with measures to criminalise possession of current "legal highs". No concessions are made over the DNA database, which is seen as a vital aid to policing. CCTV is likely to be extended, as local communities are given the right to choose – where to install additional CCTV.

Absent from the manifesto – yet woven deeply into its fabric - is any mention of the various intrusive data-gathering schemes that have caused so much angst to readers of The Register over the last few years.

There is a single mention of the vetting database, which the manifesto heaps praise on, and a commitment to work with the volunteer sector - which some critics believe that database has done so much to damage.

And there is little mention of ID cards – apart from confirmation that they are a good thing and will be extended, but won’t be rolled out to the whole population during the next parliament. Apparently they will become self-financing, with the price of the card and reduced public service fraud covering the cost of the scheme.

However, every now and then there is reference to "prevention" of future poverty, crime and offending. Labour believes in "early intervention" and "preventative measures", such as Family Intervention Programmes. These, as is now known, require additional data gathering and a degree of advance judgment not about how an individual is behaving now, but how they are likely to behave in future.

Fear of immigration is to be addressed through biometric visas, the rollout of ID cards for foreign nationals, and electronic border controls to count people in and out of the country by the end of 2010.

When it comes to paying for the above, few answers are given, beyond a commitment to ensure that those earning over £150,000 a year pay more in tax, whilst those people with incomes over £100,000 a year will gradually lose their personal tax-free allowances. Tax relief on pensions will be restricted from next year, but again only for those with incomes above £130,000 a year.

Oh, and the government will also be saving money on the NHS IT scheme, which will be scaled back, "saving hundreds of millions of pounds".

Perhaps Labour's manifesto authors should have applied this philosophy across board - wanna junk Labour policies? Vote Labour.

Bootnote

The above overview is drawn from both the manifesto itself and the currently published online statement of Labour Party policy. As far as we can tell, there is no conflict between the two - the manifesto is simply better spun. ®

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