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ID card pledge

I will refuse to register for an ID card and will donate £10 to a legal defence fund but only if 10,000 other people will also make this same pledge.
– Phil Booth, NO2ID National Coordinator at PledgeBank

Deadline is 9th October 2005, 2,934 people have signed up, 7066 more are needed. Those in the UK, please sign up.


32 comments to ID card pledge

  • John

    The best commentary on the ID cards I’ve seen:


  • The Last Toryboy

    Well, thats me signed up.

    You guys (and girls) are turning me into a cyberpunk 🙁

  • Gareth Russell

    All signed up. 🙂

  • Been there, done that.

    Somewhat off-topic, I also asked “Jenny Marlowe, Treehugger” (who says that she “will stop using plastic carrier bags at the supermarket, and use reusable cloth bags instead but only if 30 other people will too”), “If you think this is such a good idea, why will you do it only if 30 other people do? Why not do it anyway?” No response yet.

  • Fiona

    This is all quite admirable, but are you prepared to live off the grid if push comes to shove?

  • The Last Toryboy

    Well, no, to be blunt, Fiona, I’m not that principled. (I’m a tory not a libertarian after all). I’m afflicted by this unfortunate thing called “love of ones country” too, which even rules out buggering off to America. It may be slowly turning into a toilet but its still home.

    But hopefully it won’t come to that because these No2ID guys will pressure the government until it gives up. Its not like there is no opposition to it in the halls of power after all.

  • This is all quite admirable, but are you prepared to live off the grid if push comes to shove?

    That depends which of my identities you are talking about…

  • Julian Morrison

    Heh, I saw that on Kuro5hin and was storming over here to post it into comments and notify everybody. Glad I was preempted! I’m signed up, and I especially approve of the £10 thing (if people pay up). I have little faith in the courts, but the prospect of a long hard fight must terrify the politicians. The law sided with Mrs Thatcher on the poll tax, but the enforcement burden killed it.

    Am I prepared to live off the grid? I already largely do.

  • Bernie

    I signed up a few days ago but just had to comment on this;

    I’m not that principled. (I’m a tory not a libertarian after all).

    No offense intended to the writer but that is the root of the problem with the Tories.

  • I understand what Phil Booth thinks he’s trying to say, but a literal reading of his statement leaves me deeply unimpressed.

    How weak must his political conscience be if he’s only willing to follow it if a lot of other people join him? If an issue is important enough, your decision on it should not depend on what anyone else decides.

    Maybe this is a major psychological difference between Europeans and Americans. We say that it’s more important what you stand for than who you stand with. I do not need peer approval to do what’s right.

    But what Booth is saying is that he’ll only do what’s right if a lot of people show that they agree with him. Otherwise, he’ll discard his conscience and go with the flow. To me that smacks of cowardice.

  • I think it is prudence rather than cowardice. The key is the legal defense fund; without it, the protest does not have a very good chance of being effective. And the fund needs a certain minimum amount of money, determined by Mr. Booth at 100,000 pounds.

  • The Last Toryboy

    snicker@Bernie, I suppose someone had to with that own goal waiting to be kicked in. 😉

    Well, I’m not that principled mainly because, like most people, I got a life. I’ll go so far but not to the wall. Maybe sad, but thats true of all but the really exceptional and I dont claim to be that.

    RE. the Tories principles or lack thereof, I believe some of them are. And some of them are not. Thats their problem for being two parties in one.

    (while on that subject, God I hope Clarke doesnt get in…)

  • The >ast Toryboy

    I don’t think its about peer approval, Steven. Its about strength in numbers and prudence, as mentioned.

    …and I have to say…what peers? chances are I’ll never actually meet or even swap an email with many of the people who signed up. Not like we know each other.

  • No no no! Please don’t all sign up to that pledge on that site! Didn’t you read that a respected critically rational individualist website said that the project that built it “was utter crap”, and that the money employed going into it was “blatantly wasted”?


    Please, before you start complaining about how unfair this revelation is, let me bask for a moment 🙂

  • I’m sorry, but I’m unimpressed again.

    “Prudence” means “This is only sort-of important, and I’ll only stand up for my position if there isn’t really any risk.”

    Cowardice again.

  • I think the “only if 10,000 other people will also make this same pledge” bit is standard boilerplate imposed by the web site hosting the pledge. If you look at the front page of that site they all have the same wording.

    That aside, what I find interesting is just what the government could do if enough people really did go through with refusing to register. You can’t round up 10,000 people without making the nature of the procedure appear exactly for what it is (as Hank Rearden might say). Even some of the more subtle ways of making life difficult would show up as heavy handed if enough people were inconvenienced.

  • It’s all a matter of price. Everything in life has a price. Different people are willing to pay different prices for different things.

  • To defend my esteemed colleague Mr Booth and the aforementioned treehugger, and everyone else using the site, uncle Brian Eno and all, for those of you who hadn’t noticed the “but only if” is a fixed feature of the PledgeBank site. As a pledger you don’t get the choice of the more open-ended implication, “if”. It’s therefore a bit of a challenge to construct open ended pledges without making everyone who signs up look cowardly, to the non-risk-averse among us.

    I can’t imagine that the very clever chaps behind the site missed that point, but I speculate it may have something to do with it being easier to get funding if and only if you encourage people to do small things collectively. The thing the mechanism is best suited for is overcoming the Prisoner’s Dilemma in the attainment of small goals by small numbers, where it is futile to do the part of the task you can do unless some other people do the rest of it. When you consider that, it is a smart idea.

    In the case of the “refuse” pledge, many people have remarked they are going to do it anyway (me included), so it comes close to being converted by the users into a declaration of intent, rather than non-intent, even if the target isn’t achieved… which currently seems unlikely.

  • The Last Toryboy

    I wasnt aware SCDB was a fan of barbarian culture.

    By extension should George Bush be challenging Osama to a duel, mano a mano? And is he a coward for not doing that? the beloved Jackson was fond of that IIRC. 😉
    Actually I suppose a more apt analogy would be George Bush wandering into Afghanistan to do battle with the entire gang.

    Its not only unwise, its futile. I could charge into the Commons and get arrested for it, and go down shouting and screaming while being dragged out by fifty cops, and it would accomplish – nothing. In fact it’d play into the hands of my enemies. But I wouldnt be a coward, so that’ll be alright I guess.

    Seems to me the idea of a mutual legal fund and 10,000 people instead of just me is a great idea which will really put the wind up them.

  • But what Booth is saying is that he’ll only do what’s right if a lot of people show that they agree with him. Otherwise, he’ll discard his conscience and go with the flow. To me that smacks of cowardice.

    And as someone involved in both projects (NO2ID and Pledgebank), I can definitely assure people (a) that it’s part of the standard boilerplate — as Guy Herbert noted, the site is designed to attack the Prisoner’s Dilemma and encouraging people to do things they might not otherwise do — and that plenty of people on the list (including myself and Phil) will be doing it even if people don’t sign up.

    Though I have no compuction about deserting this country. The mess that both the Tories and Labour seem to be making of it is definitely disinclining me to stay, unfortunately.

  • By extension should George Bush be challenging Osama to a duel, mano a mano?

    Just think of the pay per view revenue! Not to mention the wagering.

  • The Last Toryboy


    My money is on Bush. Osama looks all scrawny to me.

    …ok, the intellectual tone has been horribly lowered now. I apologise.

  • Just to be absolutely clear to those here who do not know me, and with thanks to Guy & Owen (and others) who jumped to my/the pledge’s defence, the NO2ID pledge is not a statement of *my* actual commitment – not even close! – but rather a device to graphically demonstrate the strength and depth of feeling against this vile scheme.

    I guess there is no way to actually prove the strength of my political conscience until such time as I am confronted with registration – which might mean accepting severe restrictions on my freedom of movement and ultimately imprisonment, as ‘living off the grid’ is no longer an option for me – but I would submit that putting my life on hold to help run the campaign is a fair indication, for now, of what I stand for and the depth of my conviction.

  • Fiona

    Perhaps “prudence” isn’t the best word. “Strategy” would be better. Although Steven den Beste says he “does not need peer approval to do what’s right”, I think you do need a strategy (in this case, power in numbers and a bit of a legal fund) because you don’t get extra points for martyrdom. Despite what den Beste suggests, even Americans are known for strategic thinking on occasion. 😉

    I sincerely hope you succeed, because you’ll be making Great Britain a better place to live.

  • Luniversal

    Wouldn’t the £100,000 be better spent hiring one of these spam experts to sabotage the system? If a kid in a Polish basement can screw up the Pentagon, it souldn’t take too much cunning to bring down a British civil service operation.

  • Julian Taylor

    Unfortunately the passport office computer system (the National ID database will use their computer network) is very much offline.

    According to Tony Blair MORI Research 87% of the Uk’s population are desperate to pay £300 and spend 4 hours waiting to be photographed, fingerprinted and retinally scanned – sounds like DoHS immigration into the USA. YouGov couldn’t find anyone, away from Millbank (Labour’s Party HQ) who supported a National ID card system, in fact they went as far as to suggest that maybe MORI had possibly confused the 87% as a ‘no’ answer and changed it to a ‘yes’ response.

    Just about every body involved in the ID card plans has, to date, slammed it as unnecessary and completely impractical. Some months ago LSE published a very damning report [PDF], which Father Jack (Charles Clarke) claims to have not seen. In fact he yesterday accused the LSE (never exactly a den of Tory iniquity) of, “using the media to pursue a vendetta against Government plans for compulsory identity cards.”

  • Steven Den Beste,

    For purposes of argument, less us accept that the requirement to have a certain minimum number of fellow pledgers *does* indicate (mild) cowardice. I do not see why that should stop it being a good thing to do. If the objective is good and the means used to obtain it are, if not glorious, not actively harmful to anyone, what is the problem?

    And I really don’t see a significant difference between Americans and Europeans (assuming, again for purposes of argument only, that Britain is part of Europe) when it comes to desiring strength in numbers. When Americans want to convince their countrymen to support an issue they often cite the fact that a high percentage of Americans support that issue. Both Republicans and Democrats “talked up” their own poll results before the election, for instance.

  • Colorado Kamikazi Snowboarder

    How weak must his political conscience be if he’s only willing to follow it if a lot of other people join him? If an issue is important enough, your decision on it should not depend on what anyone else decides.

    Huh? The whole thing is that there is no point in having a “defense fund” (or even a defence fund) below a critical mass which makes it usable. Also, this sort of thing is a helpful mechanism for getting people to feel both solidarity and urgency, the two key componants for any successful political action. It has nothing to do with “psychological differences”.

  • Duncan Sutherland

    There’s a chapter in David Friedman’s “Machinery of Freedom” the describes a scenario that closely mirrors this, (the scenario in the book has to do with farmers and dam building). No one wants to be the fool, even for something that benefits them, to pledge money when they feel there’s a good chance that no one else will. They will, wisely, not want to risk it. Also there is the factor of those who realize that even if they don’t partcipate, and the money is raised anyway, they will still get the benefit. By creating a contract that basically says, “I will pay my share if ‘X’ number of people also promise to pay their share, the chances of success suddenly become much more likely.

  • Mark

    I’ve signed the pledge

  • gordon vernon

    current total is 10389 people have signed up (389 over target)

    theres also a new pledge soon to be announced. should be interesting