We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

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

Observer: “Ministers to dump ‘useless’ identity card”

The Observer reports that it is now “highly unlikely” that Big Blunkett’s plan to introduce compulsory National Identity Cards for innocent British citizens will be included in the next Queen’s speech.

Apparently the decision follows new evidence that ID Cards would be “close to useless” in fighting terrorism – something those of us opposed to the idea have been saying for ages.

Another problem is the “foundation documents” required to gain an ID card. If ID Cards are issued on the basis of (for example) birth certificates and birth certificates are easily forged then ID Cards are worthless.

If this report is accurate then it is good news for UK civil liberties. However it doesn’t mean the threat is over, we need to remain vigilant. There is every likelihood that Big Blunkett will try to resurrect his pet project.

Cross posted from The Chestnut Tree Cafe

4 comments to Observer: “Ministers to dump ‘useless’ identity card”

  • Indeed- the story is full of references to being ‘in principle’ favouring the scheme, and only dropping it because it is ‘inpractical’.

  • The Sunday Times has published the alleged text of letters to Home Secretary David Blunkett from the Ministers Paul Boateng, Chief Secretary to the Treasury and Jack Straw, Secretary of State at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office.

    Cabinet revolt over ID cards by David Cracknell, Political Editor of the Sunday Times October 12, 2003.

    Alleged full text of letter from Paul Boateng to David Blunkett

    Alleged full text of letter from Jack Straw to David Blunkett

    One has to double check the dates on these alleged letters – it seems astonishing that the points raised by the Treasury and the FCO have not yet been addressed by the Home Office, despite the fact that David Blunkett started off this ID Card debate in January 2002. It appears that the Government still has no clue as to what the precise objectives of the Compulsory ID Card scheme are, let alone the costs.

    Given that the Foreign Office letter is apparently Protectively Marked as Confidential, this would appear to be a breach of the Official Secrets Act.

    How can the Government be trusted with our personal details if they cannot be trusted to keep Official Secrets at the Cabinet Minister correspondence level ?

    Will David Blunkett be launching a full espionage enquiry with all the resources available to him (including phone and email interception etc.) to find the leak, presumably in his own office ? How is this “leak” any less serious than the Dr. David Kelly debacle ?

  • Mark Ellott

    I recall a similar retreat in 1996 – Am I right in thinking they put it off until after the election, too?

  • As I see it, it is blindingly obvious that Jack Straw realises what a political disaster the ID card could be for the government (he even says so in the minute) and is trying hard to scuttle it. He therefore has written a letter explaining this, and has possibly arranged for it to be leaked to the Times himself. I have never considered Jack Straw to be especially liberal, but he has sound political instancts, which is more than can be said for much of the rest of the government.