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Last Updated: Friday, 26 November, 2004, 11:12 GMT
Is the UK safer under Labour?
Peter Hain MP
The House of Commons leader Peter Hain has suggested that Britain will be safer under a Labour government.

His comments cause outrage amongst opposition MPs who accused him of playing party politics with fear and using the threat of terrorism to boast its chances of re-election.

The Home Secretary David Blunkett defended Mr Hain saying that he was making the point that Labour have invested in counter-terrorist measures and developing identity cards.

Do you agree with Peter Hain's comments? Do you think fear and the threat of terrorism is used for political gain by parties?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

This topic was suggested by Asif Givashi, London, UK:
Would Britain be safer under a Labour government?

I don't feel safer at all. The terrorists have won a complete victory by mesmerising the government and removing our freedoms. ObL must be laughing so much that he can hardly steady himself to make a video!
Vic, UK

How many people in the UK have actually seen a "terrorist" or been in an attack (including the IRA campaign). Now, how many people have been the subject of mugging, assault, or harassment. If this government had any backbone it would be dealing with the latter instead of trying to scare us with the former.
Cameron, UK

I would feel safer with him and the rest of his party on the opposition benches
Lisa, Reading, UK
No, I don't feel safer under Labour. I don't feel safe that I will be able to eat what I like, do what I like, think what I like, be what I like. It's sad because I like and respect Peter Hain but I would feel safer with him and the rest of his party on the opposition benches.
Lisa, Reading, UK

The Civil Contingencies Bill is one of the most frightening documents I have ever studied and our civil liberties are in serious danger. Safer under Labour? I really don't think so.
Vik, UK

In the absence of a successful alternative on the left, I, as a card carrying Labour party member will consider voting Liberal Democrat unless the Labour candidate agrees to defy the whip and vote against ID cards and repressive measures.
PJ, W. Yorks, UK

They're in a "damned if they do, damned if they don't" position. If the government doesn't act proactively and there is major terrorist incident, people will demand to know why no action was taken prior to an attack. But as for whether we are safer under Labour - remember the Tories would have also entered the war, but they would have also been cutting our public services at the same time.
Mark Malik, Teesside, UK

Let's have no more excuses for eroding our civil liberties
Steve, Essex, UK
We were far more a threat from the IRA. These days we are supposed to be jumping at shadows. These techniques might work to get Bush back into power, but I hope the UK population are a little more savvy. Let's have no more excuses for eroding our civil liberties.
Steve, Essex, UK

The claims that the war in Iraq is the cause of terrorism conveniently ignores the fact that 9/11 took place two years before we invaded Iraq. Those citing Orwellian examples of rewriting history for political point scoring should be aware that it works both ways.
Peter, Nottingham (U.K)

As a proud British born Muslim in my mid 20s, I can tell you that I do fear the authorities more then the terrorist. The chance of me being detained in a high profile police blitz has increased significantly thanks to this government.
Ahmad, Manchester, UK

Am I living in 1984 or 2004? No drinking in the streets, ID cards, no fun, CCTV everywhere, movements tracked via mobile phones and credit cards. Inability to upset someone without fear of being sued. Can't chase foxes but can kill thousands of rats and mice a year. This government has abolished age-old traditions and practices because they want to be trendy. They want postal and e-voting, I want to walk to a polling station and know my vote will count and not be stolen, hijacked or hacked! We are being told we are under constant threat and living in fear. That way they can put down opposition comments by calling them disloyal. In my view, it is they who are disloyal by spinning to the electorate.
Damian Rice, Birmingham, UK

In terms of safety, this government has created far more problems than it has solved: increased military deployment on the back of defence cuts, creating new problems for domestic policing (unenforceable laws on trivia such as fox hunting creating a new fight on one hand while leaving the animal rights fanatics free to terrorise yet more people involved in animal testing) to name but a few. On the whole, we were safer during the Cold War.
Adam Penny, Norwich, UK

If indeed Labour are using fear and the threat of terrorism for political gain, it is lost on me: it's their complete incompetence and lack of control that's been fuelling my sense of unease. I have no illusions however that the Tories or Lib Dems would be any different.
Ed Karten, London, England

It would seem that the only answer we have against the British population being ruled by politicians, rather than be served by them, is to have a PR voting system so we get the best out of the best and the worst get left out of things!
Gino, Hastings, Sussex

The proposals of this government will not stop terrorism but they will certainly erode our civil liberties. The only way to stop terrorism is to tackle the root causes - despair and poverty.
Adrian Cannon, Edinburgh, Scotland

I don't feel safer at all. Labour are just full of talk and wind. This election I will be voting for a party that gets TOUGH on crime.
Tony B, UK

The man's talking complete rubbish (and not for the first time). The way to make the country safer is not to launch unprovoked attacks on Arab (or any other) states. We should be working for a fairer world instead, where people do not feel a gross sense of injustice.
Andy, UK

Labour ministers feel safer under a Labour government!
Steve Meloche, Southampton, UK

Labour ministers feel safer under a Labour government! What total rubbish! How these clowns get away with half of the things that come out of their mouths is beyond me.
Steve Meloche, Southampton, UK

Safer from whom or what? Safer from terrorists that had not yet done much, if anything in the UK or safe from crime committed by people in our own communities? Or safe from politicians with too much spare time on their hands making up more legislation to confuse use and get in the way of our daily lives? As for the ID card, I have no objection to having one but I strongly object to being forced to pay for one! Tax by any another name still smells as bad!
Tony Kenny, Barrow, UK

I feel safer now than I did 20 years ago. However, that is nothing to do with Labour or any other government but more that Northern Ireland is slowly moving to the ballot box.
Scott, Southampton

I don't feel safe under Labour, and I doubt I would feel safe under any of the other political parties. Unfortunately last time I checked, there was no "None of the above" boxes on ballot papers.
Chantil, Hoddesdon, Herts

It seems Orwell's prophetic vision of the future was only out by twenty years
N.J., Cambridge, England
In George Orwell's book 1984, the state created an enemy in order to justify draconian control of the population. It seems Orwell's prophetic vision of the future was only out by twenty years. The new laws will have very little effect on the terrorist, but will give the government far greater control of the general population.
N.J., Cambridge, England.

The terror threat is completely overplayed for political gain. In the last two years, two of my friends have been burgled, two have been mugged, my girlfriend has been followed home by aggressive men, I've seen tourists robbed at knifepoint and I've been violently attacked, three times. This government needs to focus on policies of equality - both in the domestic arena and across the globe rather than supporting unjust invasions and 1984 style monitoring. There's no quick fix Tony!
MH, London, England

Having just read your article about how people should call the police when an intruder is in their home I have to say that no I don't feel safer under a labour government. When there was an intruder in my house I did call the police and waited over 45 minutes for them to arrive, even though we had stressed that the offence was in progress. I think all the police are too busy cleaning traffic cameras these days.
Matt Whitfield, Southampton

Two facts to debunk his claim:
1/. Many more people in the UK are worried about muggings, burglary, assault and other drug-fuelled crime than they are about terrorism.
2/. Afghanistan is now a 'narco-state' supplying over 75% of the UK's heroin where as before the invasion it was a minor player (Opium production was banned under the Taliban). Consequently the price of heroin in the UK has plummeted and drug related crime risen.
Phil Broek, UK

Peter Hain has gone too far with this assumption. Dick Cheney famously led the US electorate to believe that terrorist attacks would be more likely under a John Kerry presidency. Whichever political party you support, there is no room for this kind of outlandish remark in British Politics!

I believe the planned ID cards will make us less safe from terrorism. Since they will be "unforgeable", the forgeries the terrorists obtain will allow them to pass by unchallenged.
Simon Richardson, London, UK

Keep the people frightened, and they will be much easier to control
Rod Devonshire, Sandhurst UK
Keep the people frightened, and they will be much easier to control with draconian legislation. That seems to be the philosophy of both Labour and the Tories, and a philosophy they have borrowed from neo-conservatives in the US. Anyone who doubts this should watch the BBC's excellent "Power of Nightmares" series.
Rod Devonshire, Sandhurst UK

Muslims rounded up and taken away in a high-profile midnight raid. Said Muslims quietly released without charge a few days later. Buckingham Palace breached by amateur protestors (twice). Parliament breached by amateur protestors (twice). If this is safety I dread to think what counts as dangerous. I can't think of any party I trust less than Labour to deliver anything worthwhile to the silent majority of our country - the only thing that will be safer under Labour is the human rights of the terrorists.
John B, UK

Since Labour only talks tough but rarely enforces the more than adequate legislation already on the statute books (unless it penalises disproportionately the easy targets i.e. the generally law-abiding), no I don't feel safer under Labour.
Robert, London, England

Apparently we are only 45 minutes away from being inundated with terrorists and illegal immigrants and if we don't have ID cards, we won't be protected from weapons of mass destruction that are set to rein down upon us. Thank goodness for Blair and his cronies and their reassuring brand of hysteria.
Barry Walton, London, UK

The government can arrest people for 'looking foreign' and detain them at will
Rob London, York
I am not too scared by the terrorist threat but the thought of David Blunkett really gives me nightmares! Am I as a person safer? Well now that the government can arrest people for 'looking foreign' and detain them at will without holding a trial, I have to say that as a white male I do feel safe. The same, sadly, can not be said for many other people in our country who will soon feel the impact of our loss of civil liberties.
Rob London, York

Mr Blair has learnt well from his friend Mr Bush. As the recent Power of Nightmares programme on BBC2 showed us politicians no longer sell us a glorious future if we vote for them. Rather they tell us the future is bleak, very bleak, and the only way to protect ourselves is to vote for them. What a sad reflection on the Labour party. As to whether the UK is safer with Labour, absolutely not! They helped to make us unsafe in the first place.
Julian Ziegler, Milton Keynes, UK

I do not agree with Mr Hain's comments at all, Labour have successfully taken us into a whole new era of terrorism. As for whether or not Labour is using this new threat for political gain, yes I believe they are, not only to get re-elected but also to further steer our government away from serving the public towards ruling the public.
Pete, Liverpool, UK

Successive governments have proved that if a terrorist wishes to strike then he will
Anon, Cheshire
Safer under Labour? Throughout the seventies & eighties the UK was subject to a real threat from terror from the IRA. London, Manchester and Warrington were bombed. Labour seem to be trying to scare the public into thinking that only they are capable of protecting them. A la George Bush! Successive governments have proved that if a terrorist wishes to strike then he will. ID cards were in use in Spain & diplock courts were used in Northern Ireland for years along with many other laws under the Prevention Of Terrorism Act.
Anon, Cheshire

Disgusted but not in the least bit surprised. We wouldn't need to invest in counter measures if they hadn't put us in the firing line to start with.
Peter Collinson, London, UK

I worked in UK railway stations in the 1990s, and we were evacuated almost on a weekly basis because of IRA bomb scares. The "al Qaeda" threat is clearly nowhere near as deadly as the IRA threat ever was, and Labour are merely attempting to emulate George Bush in trying to scare the public into believing that we are all about to be wiped out by Islamic fundamentalists. Except the British aren't quite as gullible as the Americans.
Lawrence Shaw, Stoke-on-Trent

What protection would an ID card give me against a suicide bomber? Peter Hain is playing on public fears on the run up to the next election.
Graham Rodhouse, Helmond, The Netherlands.

I have no faith in the reasons for an ID card, or the government's ability to implement it.
Erik, UK
I do not think Peter Hain is correct - Britain will be just as safe (or just as vulnerable) under any of the political parties - just in different ways. Fear and threat of terrorism is definitely being used for political gain. It would be na´ve to think that this and other supposedly "good for Britain however you spin it" items will not be used like this. As for identity cards, the last report I saw suggested that those countries that do have them have seen no benefit in "the fight against terror". This, with the government track record on implementation of IT projects, means I have no faith in the reasons for an ID card, or the government's ability to implement it.
Erik, UK

I find it absolutely amazing that Labour have the audacity to claim such a thing, when clearly the reason for any heightened worries about the 'homeland security' is due to Labour's policies. I think they really need a reality check!
Paula, UK

Well they will certainly keep me safe from my hard-earned cash and my civil liberties. As for terrorism, I do not think so. They have already surrendered with their proposed draconian laws.
A Sweeting, Leicester, UK

It astounds me from reading this forum just how short sighted and ignorant to reality so many people are. I don't care who is in government as long as my family, friends and fellow countrymen are not harmed by acts of evil. To think that Labour's policies and the current US policy for that matter are detrimental to world peace is ludicrous. It is far better to deal with dictators, terrorists and the like pre-emptively rather than pick up the sad pieces once the damage has been done. I am no fan of Blair and co but I will give him and his party credit from not shrinking from the task of putting all our interests first in the fight against terror. The Tories and Lib Dems are upset because they know in their heart of hearts they do not have the courage and conviction that Blair and his cabinet have shown to have on the issue of national security.
Ed H, UK

The UK would have been safer under Labour had we not invaded Iraq on, in my view, a false pretext (with full Tory support). Now the reverse is true. If we engage in pre-emptive attacks on other communities, we can hardly be surprised if they want to hit back.
Ralph, Fleetwood, UK

Terrorists and the like do not take into account what political party is in power
Suzanne Phillips, Rhondda, Wales
No one can say that a country will be safer under any one particular government. Terrorists and the like do not take into account what political party is in power. Fear and threat of terrorism should not be used by any political party for political gain. Shame on Mr. Hain. I'm sure in his younger, politically "active" days, he would have been the first person to condemn such a suggestion by a self-opinionated politician. How short his memory is!
Suzanne Phillips, Rhondda, Wales

I'm not sure about the UK but serious crime seems to be up everywhere. Where I live in the Netherlands we had 24 murders last year and 23 so far this year. I think here as in the UK there is no deterrent any more. People are not scared about getting caught out as they will only get a slap on the wrist anyway. The punishment needs to fit the crime. As for Labour, well, politicians are all the same really. They talk so much but don't really deliver. I think that's the same no matter where you live.
Hugh, Brit in the Netherlands

No, I don't feel safer; not because of any supposed terror threat, but because of the erosion of my privacy and rights by this government.
David Irvine, Glasgow. UK

ID cards are acceptable I think, people tend to associate them with WW2 too much. However, I don't think it will make us any safer. I would gladly pay a couple of quid extra in tax so that every lorry/ship is searched when it enters the UK to root out drug and people smuggling. The fact that many EU countries have opened their borders to one another means that the flow of criminal activity has soared - and we know where there market is - the UK!
Philip Pike, Colchester

Safer? I think not. The Government is suffocating the police in so much red tape, that they'll be in the police station, filling out paperwork in triplicate, rather than out on the streets, checking the Government's much vaunted "identity cards". Of course, if the government enforced existing immigration laws the terrorist might be kept out of the country!
BF, London, UK

I believe a Labour government under Tony Blair caused the fear and danger in the first place by illegally invading another country and now they say they are best suited to protect us?! Doublespeak, Orwellian, call it what you will, but this government has made us and the world less safe and no platitudes will convince the intelligent otherwise. After all, we're not America and we won't be scared into voting for the incumbent will we?
JFM, London, UK

What most people don't realise, is that the government consider us (the general public) to be the biggest threat to the country. The public have to be kept in line, and ID cards will change the relationship between us and the government so that, rather than them being accountable to us, we are now going to have to prove our right to even be here. They play on our fears as a means of control, and people who speak out against them will very quickly be labelled as terrorist sympathisers.
Franchesca, Belfast, Northern Ireland

I don't trust labour at all and don't agree with most of their policy. Specially the big brother style ID cards. But the problem seems to be that no other party provides a good alternative either
Irfan Faruki, Glasgow , UK

Prior to the US elections, Osama bin Laden appeared to point out that it's not the president that he'll attack, it's the country's policy. Likewise, in the UK, groups led by people such as OBL will attack the UK in retaliation for its foreign policy. Labour are scaremongering the public in the same way the Republicans successfully scared 51% of the US population into re-electing Bush. I'm confident the British people will see through this smokescreen and the media would do well to highlight its flaws instead of fanning the flames like the US media did.
Abdul M. Ismail, Liverpool, UK

I don't look over my shoulder for terrorists, but I do for all sorts of other Government busybodies. The chances of running up against some jobsworth is a thousand times more likely than being shot or blown up by some lunatic.
BrianW, Chelmsford, UK

Open door immigration, two wars that we should not have been involved in (Kosovo and Iraq), lack of local police where needed and soft treatment of criminals. These are the Labour policies that have created the need for the draconian measures that Blunkett proposes. We should oppose them vigorously until the Government actually does what the people want.
Les, Morpeth, England

Safer under Labour? Only if you feel the best way to stifle terrorism is to attack a country with no history of extremism and to endorse an Israeli plan to officially annex parts of the West Bank.
Lee, London UK

Labour seem to be using the politics of "1984" - fear, uncertainty and ID cards
Adrian, UK
This is a joke! It is precisely because of Labour's policies that the risk is higher than it has ever been. Labour seem to be using the politics of "1984" - fear, uncertainty, ID cards, big brother watches and tells you are safe because of him...
Adrian, UK

What an utterly absurd comment. Mind you, Bush convinced the American electorate to vote him in on the way pretence and the majority of our electorate seem equally stupid having voted this government into power twice so no doubt it'll work ... sigh ...
Jonathan S-G, Bath, UK

The terror threat is real, but very overstated. The ID card proposal is draconian and unnecessary. It'll severely curtail our right to privacy with no real benefit in the war against terrorists. It's the issue that finally made me swear off voting Labour again.
David Patrick, Reading, UK

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