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How Long is Long?

Tony Blair, at his monthly press conference, has just been asked whether he supports compulsory National Identity Cards.

He replied “In principle there is a case” and that he felt it was the right way forward in “the long term”.

However he also stressed that there are “huge logistical and cost issues” involved and that this was “not a quick fix” to issues such as asylum seekers.

Maybe I’m being too optimistic but I find this equivocation encouraging. It does tend to support the view that Big Blunkett’s plans are being put on the back burner.

The depressing thing is that the only problems Blair can see with ID cards are logistical and cost issues. No mention of privacy and civil liberties, those things simply don’t seem to matter.

3 comments to How Long is Long?

  • My gut feeling is that the real issue here is Blair’s political instincts. He is realising that the issue is a potential vote loser, and is perhaps putting it on the backburner as a consequence. In a way it might be better if the ID card got further before it gets put on the backburner. Lots of marching in the streets, denunciations in newspaper editorials and the like might do a better job of killing it in the longer term. (Of course, the longer we go before it is killed, the greater the chance of our actually getting the thing, so that kind of attitude is playing with fire).

  • Mark Ellott

    My gut instinct is that you are right – even though it is playing with fire. Dare any Australian government propose such an idea?

    Michael Howard’s attempt was put on the back burner and here it is a few years later dusted down and represented as the panacea to all our woes. If we don’t have the marches, editorials and civil disobedience, the level of distaste will not get across to government and the next administration will, following the whisper in the ear from one of the many Sir Humphrey Applebys, realise that they have just come up with a wizzo idea to cure all our woes….

  • Australia in the late 1980s came as close to introducing ID cards as it is possible to come without actually introducing ID cards. It got to the stage of tens of thousands of people marching through the streets in opposition to them, and since then the proposal has been completely off the agenda. It will remain off the agenda until everyone who was politically active at that time has retired, which will be at least another ten years. Politicians on both sides know that it is a massive vote loser.