British civil liberties took another blow today, with Labour’s draconian new ‘security’ measures making up the bulk of the official Queen’s Speech. One positive note was sounded with the announcement of the long-awaited corporate manslaughter bill. But there was not much else to celebrate.

Blunkett’s proposed measures have already been announced, to a cross-party outcry. The crime of “acts preparatory to terrorism” will be invented, which could even include acts as innocuous as internet use. As this article in The Register surmises, “So they won’t need to prove that you’re doing something illegal, they only need to suspect that you might be for them to bar you from using the mechanism you might be using to do it. Tough luck on you if you weren’t doing it, but using that mechanism for something else entirely. If you don’t stop anyway, you’re going to jail.”

The crime of drugs possession will now extend to presence in the bloodstream.

Blunkett believes there is a “strong case” to remove the right to trial by jury for some “terror” suspects. Remember, the definition of “terrorist” can include those under pre-emptive arrests made with no evidence.

A Big Brother-style population database will be compiled, requiring all UK nationals to carry ID cards at all times, despite widespread protest that this will attack the liberty of innocent people but have no effect on criminal activity, least of all terrorism. It has been described as “the moral equivalent of bar-coding the population”.

But even if you’re not British, this still affects you. An increase in worldwide population surveillance has occurred since the 2001 American terrorist atrocity. This article (scroll halfway down to ‘Categories of Surveillance’ heading) points out that most citizens have no idea to what extent they are being watched. Most think they are freer than they are. “Countries such as the USA, Britain, Australia, Thailand, Malaysia, South Africa, Portugal, France, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Austria, Croatia, and Greenland, were all expected to fit the mass surveillance category. That (Y) level involves comprehensive surveillance of all transactions, communications and movements, with some balance of human rights maintained by the existence of legal or constitutional protections. Mass surveillance means that everything is actually watched or is likely to be watched at the whim of one or more of the covert agencies of government.”

John Prescott’s response to concerned Britons was typically circular and pointless, ignoring the argument that his government are playing on the idea of fear both to win votes and to clamp down on civil liberties. “If we went to the public and said ‘This is modern terrorism, these are the global problems we have got, but we are not going to do anything – but don’t worry, you will feel free’, would they feel free if they are facing these threats?” Incredibly, he then descended to these patronising depths: “Robin Hood may have threatened the Sheriff of Nottingham, but he didn’t actually pose the global threat we face today with suicide bombers and massive weapons of destruction.” Yes, he really did say that.

One Liberal Democrats MP made the following remarks about the Queen’s Speech in the Guardian today: “The election campaign has started, so the government has put the frighteners on to make sure we feel too anxious about the state of the world to vote for anyone else. The politics of fear, not the politics of hope. I suspect that the British public will see through it. … Take ID cards. Is David Blunkett mad when he claims ID cards will stop terrorism? Will having ID cards really deter a suicide bomber? Surely it would be better to spend £3bn on more police than on bits of plastic.”

Even the Daily Mail, probably the most reactionary, conservative, pro-interventionist popular newspaper in the country, reached a broad consensus on this. In today’s poll of its website users, it asks “Do you think Labour’s pledge on far-reaching security measures will win votes?” At the time of writing, 20% have chosen the option “Yes, people want to feel more secure from terror attacks”. 80% have voted “No, it’s scare-mongering and exploiting the threat”.

As ever, the Queen’s delivery of the speech written for her by “her” Government betrayed no personal feelings either way.

“My Government recognises that we live in a time of global uncertainty with an increased threat from international terrorism and organised crime,” she said. “My Government will legislate to introduce an identity cards scheme, and will publish proposals to support the continuing fight against terrorism in the United Kingdom and elsewhere.”

The phrase “and elsewhere” was noted.

More suggestions that Blair wishes to rewrite the entire British legal framework to suit his own ends followed: “My Government will continue to modernise the constitution and institutions of our country to ensure they are equipped to meet the challenges of the future.”

“My Government will continue to work with partners around the world to prevent terrorism and the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons…”

There has, as yet, been no offer by the British government to decommission its own stocks of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.

“My Government will work to strengthen commitment on both sides of the Atlantic to the transatlantic relationship and to the continued effectiveness of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, and will work with the international community to strengthen the United Nations.”

Oh dear. Looks like Blair’s going to join in Bush’s Iran adventure. Unless we remove him first.

Full text of Queen’s Speech: BBC website.

UPDATE: And here’s what a cross-section of BBC website readers thought of it…