Much of the blame must be laid on the staggering ineptness of New Labour's haemorrhage of legistlation. For a party led by lawyers, they have shown themselves utterly incapable of drafting the simplest law, preferring to adopt a shotgun approach. Indeed, I'm not sure I can think of a single law they've passed (thanks to a huge majority) that hasn't had to be amended, repealed or generally ignored.
The nadir was the recent Religious Hatred act, which was objected to by comedians on the grounds that they wouldn't be able to make fun of people any more. "Oh, don't worry about that", said the politicians. "We know that's what it SAYS - we'll just tell the police not to apply it to you."
Bad laws are corrosive. They introduce doubt and ambiguity, and this distorts behaviour, both on side of the public, and on that of those enforcing it. We now no longer know whether we have freedom of speech, whether we can be extradited to another country for something that isn't a crime in this country, whether we can photograph a policeman beating someone up at a demonstration, whether our confidential details must be put on a government database, etc., etc.
It used to be the glory of the English legal system - compared to the Napoleonic (European) - that what isn't expressly against the law is legal. New Labour (and the EU, to be fair) have tried to correct this by legistlating about everything they can - not a sparrow falls but the government must pass a new law to stop it happening again. There are now so many new laws that ignorance of the law - even for lawyers and judges - is inevitable, yet the effect of all this is to make us feel less in control, not safer.
We can only hope that a new government realises that this is part of the contempt we feel for the authorities in whatever form. Both the Tories and Lib Dems have paid lip-service to restoring some of our freedoms and getting proper accountability - but we all know that these promises can be put off once they are in power...