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The time has come to resist

The ID card is at hand in the UK and we should now start thinking very hard about how to wreck the government’s plans at every level. Every options needs to be considered because if this can be made into a political fiasco of epic proportions and is remembered as ‘Labour’s Poll Tax’, then it will be a long time before any party tries this sort of abridgement of civil liberties again.

It is important to remember that the Poll Tax was not defeated in Parliament, it was defeated in the streets.

33 comments to The time has come to resist

  • Guy Herbert

    It is not the card; it is the database that’s the bigger problem. If the card is dropped but we are still all officially numbered and monitored according to those numbers in our every civil act, then that’s it for liberty.

  • The Last Toryboy

    Labour are nothing if not smart, they plan on introducing it a bit at a time. Voluntary until they get 30% signed up to it maybe, and then compulsory, when people have got used to the idea.

    If it was a sudden shock then the somnolent Joe Public might be briefly stirred to action, but slow insidious Fabian tactics might well manage to get the deed done without waking up Joe, bless him.

    I’d be in London today if it wasn’t for the small problem of working for a living. Shame the left wing protestors never seem to have that problem eh? 😉

  • Chris Goodman

    The Poll Tax was not defeated ‘in the streets’ and neither will ID cards. It will be won or lost on the arguments i.e. the UK population will have to be persuaded that having an ID card is a positive rather than a negative development. For most people the jury is still out.

  • Ex-Poll Tax Rebel

    The Poll Tax was not defeated ‘in the streets’

    That is an ‘interesting’ view of history. And I don’t suppose Maggie going soon after was in any way related…

  • sca

    The No2Id people are running an online pledge…


  • There must be some hackers out there who can make some big displays of how secure databases are????

    Beside that lets just refuse to carry one and spit on those that do. Make it socially unacceptable to carry one.

  • Michael Taylor

    Practical ways to fight the ID / National Identity Register.

    One thing we in the online community can do is to work to ensure transparency and accountability is brought to this process. We need to find out who has been pressing this scheme from its infancy: that doesn’t just mean finding the Labour Party hacks who’ve embraced it; it doesn’t even just mean finding the Whitehall Committees which pushed it. It means finding the details of the people who sat on that committee: it means getting their names and track records out in public. I want names and reasons and track records. Where possible, I’d want those personal details which they’d collect from us out there on the web for all to see. It also means tracking every single hardware and software supplier who is bidding for the work – again, we need personal names not company names. And then these people need to be monitored closely, and lobbied intensively. There needs to be absolutely no place for these securocrats to hide: there must be no secrecy, no privacy for them.

    Let’s also make sure we use the Freedom of Information Act aggressively to get this information: swamp them with requests for every detail of every person’s career who’s ever been on any committee which has recommended any part of this scheme. If nothing else, such an intensive and personal campaign of transparency gives opponents of the scheme the best possible chance of keeping these people on the back foot. Look, for example, at how angry the govt has got with the LSE’s report. That should be only the merest footfall, the tiniest ripple of administrative inconvenience and distributed informational opposition they must face. Do this, and we’ll win.

  • The pragmatic may wish to focus attention on how compulsory identification does not, in fact, help protect anyone against terrorists, as well as pointing out methods which can protect against terrorists without violating the rights of others.

  • John East

    I’ve heard several bozos interviewed by the media say that they would not be happy to pay £100-£300 for a card, but they would accept it if the government paid. And how would the government pay? By taxing these bozos. With idiots like this around one wonders how they manage to remember where they live without an ID card.

    It is likely that massive cost over runs, administrative incompetance, and IT failure will sink this scheme. After 8 years it is clear that all this pathetic administration can do well is talk the talk.

    For my part, I’ve signed the pledge, (http://www.pledgebank.com/refuse), and I will be prepared to support any demonstrations.

  • Verity

    Michael Taylor’s thoughts are extremely well reasoned and pragmatic. Practical, too. It can be done.

  • John East: you may be ignoring the possibility that those bozos are unemployed, and are living on government handouts anyway. And, BTW, if that is the case, they are already in the database. Nothing to lose.

  • I'm suffering for my art

    I am curious. If the ID card was not an ID card in the Soviet sense* and more a “key” to all government services – a driver’s licence, healthcare card, social security card etc – and the practical outcome of this was the collation of all the data collected by the state into one database, is this such a bad thing? I mean, all this information exists on disparate government databases anyway. If they wanted to track you personally it’s currently just a case of joining the dots.

    Assuming the ID card is not an “ID card” as such – however it would be used like a driver’s licence for identification purposes when opening bank accounts etc – I can’t see what the problem is. If done correctly, it should streamline access to government services (not that I appreciate all these govt services, but hey, I pay dearly for ’em, may as well make the best of a bad deal and use them) and shrink the bureaucracy.

    I ask this question as a non-Britisher. I’m not at all saying that the ID card proposed by NuLab is a good idea – shrinking bureaucracy is evidently not part of the Blairite programme, and thus many people here are naturally suspicious when the UK government talks about greater efficiency. I really don’t know the specifics of the proposal, and I want to know what’s so odious about this plan that makes so many people rush to man the barricades. Ostensibly, a single card that you can use for all your interactions with the state is a good idea.

    *Police stopping you in the street and asking to see your ID card if you’re out walking after 10pm.

  • John East

    Alisa, good point. How many people qualify for free ID cards? This will come out of taxes whatever happens, Tax payers will have to be reminded that whatever the official cost is, to add on this extra figure.

  • Bernie

    I think the aspect of cardholders having to pay £90+ should not be given a lot of attention. It is one of those things the government can look good on when they “compromise” on the bill, in a similar way to what they did with the detention without trial thing a short while ago.

    On a more positive note I think there are a lot of people out there who didn’t want to see Tony and his cronies back in government, who are looking for a nice issue with which to demonstrate their dissatisfaction with. Thatcher’s poll tax didn’t seem to me to be that bad as a replacement for what had gone before it but her PR and timing were very wrong. If it had been done in her first term I think it would have gotten through easier than the recent hunting bill. Blair’s timing on ID cards is very poor for him.

  • Bernie


    Police stopping you in the street and asking to see your ID card if you’re out walking after 10pm.

    Do you honestly, for one moment, think this will not happen?

  • I'm suffering for my art

    Bernie – I don’t know. Does it happen in the Continental European countries that utilise ID cards?

    The point isn’t whether they can ask, because they can. They can ask you today to see your driver’s licence if you’re walking after 10pm. It’s what they do after if you say you don’t have your card on you or you tell them to stick it. That is where the insidiousness can creep in.

  • I’m suffering for my art,

    The Government’s proposed ID cards scheme has a much more sinister aspect which neither the mainstream media nor even the MPs debating this legislation in the House of Commons as I type seem to understand: the National Identity Register – a hugely ambitious project to track the lives of individuals through a massive central database. The very title of the legislation – the ID Cards Bill – has been criticised by a government committee for not being representative of the nature of scheme it will introduce.

    In fact, current Home Office thinking includes making presentation of the ID card (or, more likely at some future time: a biometric identifier) mandatory for such every day activities as buying travel tickets for ‘public’ transport or spending more than £200 on a single purchase.

    The proposed system is in no way comparable to ID cards as they exist in any other European nation like France or even Sweden and it’s certainly a long way off being a glorified driving licence which might only be presented when opening a new bank account or taking a driving test. This is a system of life-long tagging and tracking. It is deeply disturbing.

  • guy herbert

    has been criticised by a government committee for not being representative of the nature of scheme it will introduce.

    House of Lords Constitution Committee, actually. PDF here. Not annexed to Government, yet. Though HMG has plans to stop the legislature interfering with legislation.

  • Julian Taylor

    Police stopping you in the street and asking to see your ID card if you’re out walking after 10pm.

    No, they won’t need to stop you at all. The ID card will have a low-strength RFID embedded into it, allowing police to access your card without needing you to hand it over to them.

    Regarding the database system the Home Office is now jumping the gun by embarking, within the next few months, on biometric scanning for anyone wanting a passport. You will apparently have to undergo eye, fingerprint and complete facial scanning although it still remains unclear whether, even after having endured this, you will now be allowed into the USA without all the Homeland Security rigmarole.

  • Pete_London


    As Stephen Hodgson states, the card itself is the least of it. The NO2ID site pretty much sums up the case against.

    Even if a card only was proposed, with no database containing my details and tracking my movements was involved, I’d still oppose it. Simply, my right as a freeborn Englishman to go about my lawful business unchecked by the state is non-negotiable.

    I’m also watching the debate in the Commons and although it’s heartening to see that some actually understand the issue, it seems that the vote will go the government’s way.

    So what’s to be done? I’ve decided that this is a line in the sand for me. If I’m still in the country when registration is made compulsory they can lead me off to prison. I’ll be whistling a tune while they bang me up.

    I’ve made the pledge also and will happily demonstrate. Michael Taylor’s suggestion is very useful and I’ll happily help with some of the donkey work. Don’t underestimate the power of getting on others’ nerves either. Even my liberal friends have seen the light or are turning, though I admit that I do go on at them about such issues.

  • Exposer

    EDS the computer firm is bidding

    Doug Hoover, vice-president and managing director of EDS UK, said: “ID cards are a competency of EDS. It is safe to say we would look at it.” The company has held high-level meetings with senior Home Office civil servants charged with delivering the project

    Here’s Doug Hoover…

    On basis of format for some EDS staff email addresses, then Doug’s email address would be:

    Comments can be submitted to EDS here

  • Keith

    “So what’s to be done? I’ve decided that this is a line in the sand for me. If I’m still in the country when registration is made compulsory they can lead me off to prison. I’ll be whistling a tune while they bang me up. ”

    Pete, me too. There comes a point where only a stubborn, principled “NO” will do.

  • PJ

    Hmmm, I must say if it will be Labour’s Poll Tax, I rather hope they persevere with it. It’s so impractical, expensive and alien that, when Middle England awakens from its slumber, they will hopefully revolt against this dismal government, and, as somebody has already noted, the Tories if and when they next get into government, will be too frightened to introduce any more illiberal measures.

    To the impressive list of villains already noted, I’d like to add the United States Congress and Department of Homeland Security, at whose behest biometric data is being included on passports, and who gave the government something on which they can piggyback.

    I was fingerprinted the last time I left the US, a few weeks back. I felt like a criminal, though I had done nothing wrong (nothing they knew about anyway…)

  • Andrew Kinsman

    Doug Hoover, vice-president and managing director of EDS UK, said: “ID cards are a competency of EDS. It is safe to say we would look at it.”

    Has anyone else noticed that when an organisation uses the term “competency”, it generally means “incompetence”.

    “Competencies” are what is “measured” by NVQs: they are a long way removed from “competence”.

  • Robert

    Two ideas about how to increase the chances of the ID scheme failing:

    1) Start using slightly different variants of your name in your contact with the gov. Interestingly I read once that it is perfectly legal to simply start using a different family name (but not your first name) as long as your intent is not to deceive. The whole “deed poll” malarkey is just a way of having an official document to prove the name change. Also, you might start to write your date of birth in the American style.

    2) Using one of the slightly variant IDs you have created take part in any of the “trial” schemes that the government starts and sabotage them from within. Don’t sit still enough for the facial scan to work. Rub a little Bazuka gel on your finger to take of the top layer of skin and mess up the fingerprint machine.

    The whole scheme is too complicated to work properly anyway, but there is no reason not to help make it more complicated and prone to failure.

  • Verity

    PJ – By Middle England, I hope you’re including the chavs and the parking meter attendants and the local Labour councillors, and oh, the teachers, and the people doing under-the-counter work while collecting benefits, and BBC sound engineers … Michael Taylor’s idea could turn these people into allies in this because it is vivid and simple.

  • Ted Schuerzinger


    The idea of using different variations of one’s name isn’t bad — I do that in signing up for things on the Internet, in order to figure out who’s putting me on what lists.

    But it might have some drawbacks when dealing with Big Government. I’m one of those people who normally uses his middle name. My Social Security card has first initial, middle name, last name, while my drivers license has first name, middle initial, last name. This foiled the local government — into giving me two entries in the juror pool! I got a juror questionnaire in October, 2003, and when they didn’t need any jurors that week, was supposed to be free from getting a summons for four years. This spring I got another questionnaire anyhow. There was a space on the questionnaire to explain errors if, say, they’d gotten your name wrong or you’d served in the past four years, and I made certain to point out how they have my name wrong and how I’d served back in 2003. I got sent another summons anyhow. At least I was able to straighten the problem out over the phone, although the lady at the commission of jurors was rather nasty in telling me it was my own fault for having multiple variations of my name in the juror pool.

    The State is not your friend….

  • It will probably not be defeated in the streets but it is good that there are people who are protesting in the streets to keep it in the news. I think what will kill the bill will be its own weight. The complete impracticality of the plans will end up killing it. Course all this will cost quite a bit of money.

  • Luniversal

    The poll tax wasn’t defeated in the streets. Curious spasm of marxoid romanticism there, Perry. In truth the one thing that could have made the law-abiding British swallow the ‘community charge’ was the sight of rentamobs charging the police in Trafalgar Square.

    The poll tax went because it was the wedge issue that crystallised for a majority of Tory MPs the suspicion that Maggie had got too big for her high heels, and was leading the party to defeat at the election due in 1991 or 1992. Tories had become too used to power to risk it for a system which levied the same amount on dukes and dustmen, and thus didn’t even conform to their newly learned market forces principles. Unlike Old Labour, the Conservative Party is never about anything bigger than hanging on to the office they think they have a born right to. They shafted the Lady and the poll tax went with her.

  • JuliaM

    “The complete impracticality of the plans will end up killing it”

    I’d really like to think that this is the case, but I suspect that the temptation to introduce it now & damn the costs (which may fall on another government anyway) will be too great….

    Anyway, I suspect too many IT & consultancy companies have their eyes on this juicy potential contract to stop the bandwagon.

  • The complete impracticality of the plans will end up killing it

    Since when did that ever stop a government boondoggle? I have two words for you:


    ’nuff said

  • Agent Smith

    Does it happen in the Continental European countries that utilise ID cards?

    Yes, absolutely. In France, for example, the police conduct regular “controles d’indentite”, especially in the poor suburbs, which involves stopping non-whites and asking them to show “vos papiers”. If you are unable to do so, you can be carted off to the police cells for the night, depending on how the cops are feeling. This behaviour occasionally results in violent confrontations between the police and the local communities.

    This kind of thing in commonplace in Europe, especially in the Mediterranean and Francophone countries.

  • HJHJ

    There are many appalling aspects of the proposed ID cards but let me just address the ‘efficiency’ issue – the idea that it will be much more efficient and convenient to have one centrally managed proof of ID system (streamlining access to services, etc.).

    To justify this you have to demonstrate that there is a problem at present and that the proposed solution will bring benefits which justify the cost. I cannot remember a single case in which I have had any difficulty establishing my identity (in the few cases where it is necessary to do this remotely, I have posted copies of bills showing my name and address – a method which the ID card will not replace). So what exactly is the current problem, why is it worth spending billions on and what current forms of identity proof will it replace?

    This argument reminds me somewhat of the Beveridge report which led to the foundation of the NHS. The Beverage report did not argue in favour of the NHS as a centrally run system because there was a problem with the public accessing, obtaining or paying for medical services (this generally worked very well in the UK prior to the NHS). Beveridge argued for the NHS because it would be more efficient to co-ordinate and pay for services centrally. Nobody now seriously believes this to be the case about the NHS (perhaps the government does, hence its new and hyper expensive do-everything NHS computer system, but I meant no serious observer)