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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Mistaken identity

A refreshingly straightforward opinion piece that I came across while searching the Telegraph’s site for their morsels on civil liberties and ID cards. It was written in December 2002 based on an interview with Matthias Kelly QC, new chairman of the Bar Council. It sounds as relevant now, if not more:

In David Blunkett, we have – in Mr Kelly’s words – a “profoundly illiberal” Home Secretary, but we also have a man who seems incapable of doing anything except talk tough. A good example of this is in the Government’s sudden adoption of the identity card, or “entitlement card” as it euphemistically calls the proposed £1.5 billion scheme.

Because this ministry would rather not reform or enforce the existing immigration laws, it has re-heated one of the worst ideas that was briefly considered and then abandoned by the Major government. Now the Home Office presents the discarded policy as an exciting “joined-up” piece of anti-crime thinking.

As we near the end of an unadvertised “consultation period”, the Government is hoping to spirit through an ID card scheme that will do almost nothing to help the police catch and convict criminals. The cards are an expensive stunt designed to give the impression that the Government is doing something to stop an Albanian jumping ahead of you in the queue for a hip operation.

As mentioned already, this was written in December 2002 and contains a reference to the end of an unadvertised consultation period. Is this the same one as the one that is nearing the end now? Is it another one in the spirit of we keep having ‘consultation periods’ until we get our way?

And the final words ring true to our finely tuned White Rose ears:

The ID card is practically undesirable, and as repugnant on civil liberty grounds as the assaults on jury trials and double jeopardy contained in the Criminal Justice Bill. Mr Kelly is to be congratulated for using his position at the Bar Council to sound the alarm about a government whose only toughness in the field of criminal justice is towards the presumption of innocence.

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3 comments to Mistaken identity

  • the dissident frogman

    Just squashing a few bugs in the blog. forget about it.

  • the dissident frogman

    HA! GOTCHA!

  • Stephen Hodgson

    Is this the same one as the one that is nearing the end now?

    The government’s sole “public consultation” on ID cards took place between July 2002 and 31 January 2003. The government continues to insist that any “entitlement” card will not be compulsory: you’ll only need to carry it if you want to start a job, buy a house, own a car, make expensive purchases, claim “benefits”, claim “free” health care from the NHS, travel abroad, attend an education institution, enter a government-owned building, etc – so really, there’s nothing to fear – we can always choose not to pay the government £25 to take our fingerprints, DNA, iris scans, photographs and goodness what other biometric information and personal details and store them on some sort of national database.