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Yet another post on ID cards

Popular support for ID cards – never all that evident to me in the first place – has collapsed, according to this story in the Daily Telegraph this morning. The article, citing a YouGov poll, says support has dropped sharply in part due to the likely high cost of the cards.

I am of course pleased that Tony Blair and his oafish Home Secretary, Charles Clarke, are facing a serious setback on this issue. Nothing would give me more pleasure than if this most devious of administrations had to abandon this wrongheaded, expensive and oppressive scheme. But I cannot help feel a twinge of dismay that an assault on our liberties may be thwarted not because the UK electorate have grasped the principles at stake but because of the monetary cost. It makes one wonder whether we would happily sell our freedoms if the price were right.

I hope of course that I am dead wrong about that.

19 comments to Yet another post on ID cards

  • Verity

    Jonathan – I would not be too sanguine. This dishonest government manipulates the news in a way we have never experienced in Britain before. For example, take how they “underestimated” (lied about) the number of illegal immigrants in Britain, for years, as being, oh, negligible. Then, when the electorate hadn’t bought the notion of ID cards to militate against identity theft and hadn’t bought the notion that they would militate against terrorists, they suddenly discovered that there are a whacking half a million illegal immigrants in Britain, all trying to use the NHS. But the new ID cards would ensure that only those entitled to services would get them.

    This in itself is a fallacious argument, as they are aware. NHS and false benefits cost the Exchequer around £36m a year. The solution is to buy a computer costing around £5bn or more? Nothing they say ever hangs together.

    (As an aside, we are all aware that the next thing, after smoking and toy guns, that they are going to ban are kitchen knives. Yesterday, reading through the papers, one got an eerie sense. Every paper, and the BBC’s website, carried a story about a four year old boy who had accidentally killed himself with a kitchen knife. Now this would have been a fairly interesting story in a local paper – as in, Scunthorpe lad dies in kitchen knife mishap.

    (But national news? In every newspaper and the BBC? Who coordinated putting this story about? Who sent press releases to all the national news editors? Who knew how to do this and in whose interest was it to put this story about? Which name on the letterhead ensured that all the papers printed it and the BBC ran it?

    The government behaving as though it is suddenly beleagured by the citizenry saying “no” to ID cards is phoney. They have realised that they’ll have to take a different tack – pretend defeat – and come up with “a compromise” which, of course, will be the original plan worded differently.

    We would be well-advised to continue the fight and not let our guard down, and not let the opportunity to gain ground slip through our fingers.

  • Our lives are too comfortable to be concerned with abstract ideas like ‘liberty’. People will need to actually lose it before they recognise they even had it. Very sad but, I think, very true.

    I wish we could win the anti-ID Card argument simply because we’re right but I’ll settle – grudgingly – for winning it just because the punters think it’s too expensive.


  • Julian Taylor

    I really don’t think that people have to lose their liberty in order to appreciate what they just lost. Many people in the Eastern Bloc states had never known liberty in their lives before the iron curtain came down but they knew that there had to be a better life than what they had endured under Honecker, Jaruzelski or the loathesome Nicolae Ceaucescu.

    As for the ID card experiment we should win the argument not through whether we are right or wrong but through proving that the proposed system is completely untenable and unworkable in the UK. Sadly this is going to necessitate demonstrating to one of the world’s leading egotists (Our Little Tone) that his logic is flawed.

    Given that Ken “I’m always right and you’re always wrong” Livingstone has just imposed a 60% increase in his congestion charge and has today admitted that the sole reason for the increase was to raise cash, not to prevent further traffic congestion in London, I don’t think that Labour has a problem with imposing massive charges on the public. The cost of a UK passport is fast approaching the £100 cost, with the price for a same day application varying between £89 and £95, the reason for the increases are cited as due to the ,

    Introduction of biometrics in passports – necessary to meet new International Civil Aviation Organisation standards.

    Margaret Thatcher once attacked Neil Kinnock by claiming that Socialists are always free with other people’s money, especially when they can not be held to account for it.

  • H. Bosch

    AH. the free market in action! Gotta love it!

    Speaking of the free market, anyone else notice the HUGE disparity in the box office grosses of Farenheit9/11 and the combined grosses of the 6 anti-Michael Moore films?

    Looks like the Invisible Hand is holding Mr. Moore quite comfortably, resting in it’s infallible palm.

  • GCooper

    H.Bosch writes:

    “Speaking of the free market….”

    What on Earth makes you believe Hollywood has anything to do with a free market?

    The Mafia look on movie distribution with awe and envy, wishing they could achieve the same levels of monopolistic control-freakery.

    Now get back under that bridge, where you belong.

  • Verity

    Gary Munro – you cannot “settle grudgingly” for the government abandoning their control scheme because “the punters think it’s too expensive”. That way still lies a national ID card only altered terms. If public resistance is based on cost and not principle, that can be manipulated very easily. As with those people on the BBC’s Have Your Say site who say, “Well, why can’t the government share the cost with us?” Duh.

    Julian Taylor – Tone isn’t “one of the world’s greatest egoists”. He’s it. Unless principled people – in other words, people Tone doesn’t understand – resist, the ID card will go through whether it costs £300 per person or whether he has to give free Haagen-Dazs vouchers and an Ikea self-assembly bookcase away with every one.

    We must resist.

  • Tony has the ability to balls up anything he touches,but this is going to be a who rules issue,the Little Father of his people is looking to stamp his authority on the Nation.If at the same time he can saddle Gordon with a disasterous liability so much the the better.
    I had heard that information on the proposed cards will be exempt from the Data Protection Act.

  • Verity

    Well, Peter that is, of course, a comforting thought. Blair ‘n’ Cher at the knees-up at the opening of the Millennium Dome come to mind for facile laughter. Yes, Tone doesn’t have what we might call “a sure touch” for government programmes.

    I sincerely look forward to the humiliating failure of the Olympics in Britain. I do hope Peter Mandelson’s involved.

  • Johnathan

    Verity, in answer to your first comment, I am certainly not going to get complacent. Fear not, we have to keep up the pressure relentlessly on this. We must continue to dig up what we can on the folk backing the idea.

    A couple of related thoughts: Blair has a habit of embracing ideas on the spur of the moment to “look tough” or appear “in control”: ID cards is a key example. On the other hand, we know that this creep of a man is obsessed by his place in history. Does he really want to go down as the man who had the worst record on civil liberties in modern British history?

  • Julian Taylor

    At a recent dinner with certain members of the Conservative Party it was suggested that stopping Blair’s relentless obsession with the new centralised state database would be akin to trying to push in an inflated balloon. One opposition frontbencher said that the reason for the apathy from the other side of the house is apparent when you realise how many angles Blair can approach the ID card issue from – biometric passports (already in rollout), UK driving licences (very easy to adapt to a State ID card), Ken Livingstone’s Capita Oyster card (being extended now to include local government benefit payments) and the proposed “unemployment card”, where you do not get paid any monies but a instead receive a card usable at government approved food stores and a voucher redeemable for public transport.

    What Our Little Tone and his authoritarian cohorts so desperately need is the Al Queda equivalent of an IRA ‘spectacular’ bomb blast, with plenty of images of dead and maimed on TV. With something like this they could revitalise public support for the ID card and refocus their strategy with concentration upon ‘terrorism prevention’, instead of the kneejerk reasons and reactions we have been spoonfed from Charles “Father Jack” Clarke.

  • GCooper

    Julian Taylor writes:

    “One opposition frontbencher said that the reason for the apathy from the other side of the house is apparent when you realise how many angles Blair can approach the ID card issue from…”

    Thus demonstrating nothing more than the paucity of wit that characterises the rotting hulk of the Conservative Party.

    Any advertising or marketing person worth his or her salt could show them how to conflate these issues, wrap them up in a single bundle, apply a memorable label and have the package on the market inside a fortnight.

    The poor Tories – too dim even to remember that this was precisely what was done to them when, with a cry of ‘Tory sleaze’, the entire worthless crew was justifiably defenestrated.

  • steve

    Be prepared for a financial gesture from teh PM, he will give the cards away to the poor and needy, charge the rest of us £30 – £50, and we will all be very happy because we have saved some money from the £100 + propaganda sums leaked.

  • Verity

    G Cooper – Yes. I think if the Tories cannot mobilise their thoughts and actions against this obscene advance on the theft of liberty from the British citizenry, they deserve the death they are so keenly courting. As champions of liberty, 20 feral cats released into the debating chamber would be more effective. And yes, they haven’t even learned how to do it after studying what was done to them with such despatch.

    Jonathan, You are too nice. You say, On the other hand, we know that this creep of a man is obsessed by his place in history. Does he really want to go down as the man who had the worst record on civil liberties in modern British history?

    He doesn’t see this as a disgraceful betrayal of trust. He sees it as a heroic step forward to the brave new world, which he inexplicably believes everyone is striding boldy towards. He does not think like us.

    Every time he appears to make a concession, we should be even more vigilant. He’s as slippery and wriggly as an eel. He is determined to bring in ID cards. There will be a new reason next week, until he hits on one that resonates with a bored public and, as I said, if he has to give them away free with vouchers for a tub of Haagen Daz, that’s what he will do. (“We have taken on board that people are reluctant to pay for something for which they do not yet appreciate the benefit. As the ID card is so critical to the security of our country, the government is going to shoulder the cost itself, and ID cards for the first five years will be issued free of charge to the public.” Or shit like that. That’s why we have to join the fight and raise awareness. The ID card may mutate into a friendlier sounding name (probably Entitlement Card), but it is still on the books.

    BTW, anyone else noticed el Phonio has stopped saying “the UK” or “Britain” and started saying “our country”. This is to subconsciously feed the idea that he shares our love of our country. Lies, lies, lies, lies.

  • Verity

    Do not be drinking anything when you click on this anti-ID link. It is genuine LOL. Hit the word PLAY on the playbill. As he sings very fast, you can read the words on the screen. (Link)

  • GCooper

    Verity points us to:

    “Do not be drinking anything when you click on this anti-ID link…”

    Oh, now that is good . Very, very good!

    Best laugh I’ve had since catching myself wondering if there was anything worth watching on TV this week.

  • Julian Taylor


    That is absolutely AWESOME! Unfortunately I didn’t take your sound advice and was drinking when I watched it.

  • John K

    Great stuff, someone put a lot of work into that!

  • H. Bosch

    Briefly, yes, the Free Market, and the Invisible Hand thereof LOVES Mr. Moore.

    In the case of F911, the original distributor was shocked and offended by the way Dear Leader was made to look. (Of course, blaming Dear Leader for being a complete smirking chimp never entered his mind. But I digress)

    So, said distributor showed Mr. Moore the door. As is his right here in the good old US of A.

    Some other fellow saw this opportunity, snatched up the film and proceeded to distribute it far and wide.

    Turned out the F911 is a license to coin money. Tons of money. Mr. Moore is more than few millions richer, hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people world wide have seen and own the film on DVD, and will pop it in the old DVD player at a moment’s notice whenever some GWB/Iraq War apologist opens his misinformed mouth.

    Yes, The Free Market LOVES some Michael Moore and the Invisible Hand just keeps throwing more and more money at Mr. Moore.

    Which just pisses you all RIGHT OFF, doesn’t it? “How dare this scruffy liberal unrepentant Democratic from some no account town in Michigan come to have all this money and adulation, while we, the acolytes of St. Ayn Rand, must labor in obscurity for meager wages.”

    Sucks to be you, doesn’t it?

    Doesn’t suck to be Michael Moore, though. It really swings to be Michael Moore.

    And based on the just amazing return on F911, people are flocking to finance his next documentary, hoping to make a profit from it.

    Hey, there’s that damned Free Market in action again!

    How’s that whole “Freedom on the March” business working out for you, over there in Iraq? What was that? You’ll have to speak up. I can’t hear you over all those car bombs going off.

  • Charlie

    reference verity making the point that we should watch Blair when he makes consessions. During the last vote in the commons Blair said “OK we wont propose the card is compulsory ok? we’ll give you that” but then the commons voted in that cards should be issued automatically with driving licences, passports and other applications for forms of identification. I am assuming the information required when you apply for these necessities will change in order to fill the requirements of the database. Did no one notice this? are they all brain dead? and yes it is sad that Britons are turning against this card based on cost and it pains me that the daily mail readers are motivated by this but no card on what ever grounds I am afraid is a good card, we shall just have to stomache the greedy motivations rather than go to court endlessly for non compliance to register. (which is going to piss my husband and children off no end ha ha ha )