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ID cards and filthy lucre

Some time ago, a commenter on this site made such a telling point about how to “name and shame” advocates of UK ID cards that his post was reproduced on the main page of the blog. We live in an age where it may be necessary to fight a bit dirty to halt this wretched proposal in its tracks. I was reminded of how politicians may have a financial interest in the ID card venture when I read this article by the Spectator on the political demise of David Blunkett, former Home Secretary, who resigned as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions this week in grubby circumstances:

That David Blunkett infringed the rules by failing to consult Parliament’s advisory committee on his appointment as director of DNA Bioscience may seem a somewhat dry matter. But it is the nature of the appointment and his acquisition of shares in the company that say much about the culture of this Labour government. DNA Bioscience is a private company whose shares cannot be bought by the public through the stock exchange. When the company floats next summer, Mr Blunkett’s shares, which he has now disposed of, will, on current valuations of the company, rise from £15,000 to between £60,000 and £300,000. Were the company, which manufactures paternity-testing kits, to be awarded the contracts by the Child Support Agency for which it is expected to bid, Mr Blunkett stands to gain even more.

It has not escaped our notice that a company which tests for DNA might also appear to be in a good position to bid for government work in relation to David Blunkett’s great pet project: ID cards which will carry biometric information on every citizen in the country. We have argued all along that ID cards are both illiberal and a huge waste of money, and that they will cause inconvenience to the public while doing nothing to reduce crime or terrorism. Our concerns on those scores have not been answered. Yet now to discover that David Blunkett followed his resignation from the Home Office by scurrying off to a plum job in the DNA business puts the plans in an interesting light. Did it really not occur to David Blunkett that it might be inappropriate for a former Cabinet minister who has such an inside knowledge of the government’s use of forensic science to take a job and buy shares in a company well placed to bid for contracts? Ignorance of the finer points of ministerial etiquette is no excuse for what appears to be a serious conflict of interests.

How very interesting!

26 comments to ID cards and filthy lucre

  • Nixk Timms

    Robert Heinlein said something along the lines of: A person would not seek public office if he did not have larceny in his heart.

    I am very suspicious of people who claim they got into politics to change things for the better. It’s rank arrogance for these people to assume that they know better than others anyway but the real question is always: “Who benefits…?”

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Nixk Tims, that is a great quote from one of my favourite writers. Here is another from the Notebooks of Lazarus Long: “Do not consume alcohol while handling a gun. You may shoot at a tax collector, and miss.”


  • Richard Easbey

    Oh, Johnathan…. I LOVE your quote! I’m going to add it as one of my email signatures….

    thanks for the laugh!

  • Bernie

    How obvious. And why hasn’t this been picked up by the msm?

    Blunkett a director of a business???? This is the only piece I have seen on the matter and it stops way short of what it could have said. What does a man like this have to offer a business apart from inside information?

  • Verity

    Bernie – That’s a very good point! He’s never had a single job in his life. He got on the Sheffield Council when he was still a college student, I think, and has never been off the public teat since. David Blunkett is such a slut. He’s probably got shares in the company that’s going to be awarded the contract for running up the ID cards.

  • Bernie

    He had his nose in the trough as a student eh. I didn’t know that. Must have bought some of that crap about how much of a hero he is for the struggle he had to make it “to the top”. There were comments about how he never mentioned his blindness. Maybe he didn’t but he certainly advertised it by not wearing dark glasses and he always had a guide dog with him.

    I have a friend who has been blind from birth who has never used a guide dog and he travels all over London using public transport. Blunkett had chaufeur driven cars wherever he went. But he never spoke about it.

  • Verity

    Blunkett even had chauffered cars after he resigned as a minister. In other words, he not only kept a ministerial car, to which he was no longer entitled (kind of like using train tickets to which you are not entitled), but the service as a state-paid driver on top of it. A little gift from the taxpayer for Tony’s friend Dave. I believe he also kept his ministerial grace-and-favour residence to which he was no longer entitled because of, as Tony said, “security”.

    I wonder if he’ll have to give the free residence up this time? If so, what will happen to his offer to his new young girlfriend, the real estate agent, to whom he offered the free use of the flat contained within it?

  • You are being too hard on Blunkett,he didn’t know he was buying shares,he though he was signing Jack Straws death warrant.

  • Verity

    Peter – Ha ha ha ha ha! Two bad it wasn’t a two-fer: buy a specific number of shares and win the right to sign the death warrant of your cabinet member of choice.

  • Julian Taylor

    Anyone want to bet on how many months it will be before Blair brings Blunkett back? As has been mentioned so many times in the past few days Our Little Tone, and especially Cherie (link takes time to load), desperately need someone like Blunkett in order to occasionally detract attention away from their increasingly corrupt anctics.

    As one Tory party friend of mine commented, David Blunkett has a nasty habit of coming back up more times than al dente broccoli …

  • Why does Cherie need Blunkett,is it because he is the only one who says “No” when she asks,”Does my bum look big in this”?

  • guy herbert

    Actually, though I dislike Blunkett and am glad to see hime gone, this is not a big deal. As often, I’m with Mick Hume on this one:

    As one whom the former Home Secretary might consider an airy-fairy libertarian, I can think of many reasons why David Blunkett should have been removed from the Government. But failing to ask some bureaucrat’s permission to invest his own money in a legitimate company would not be one of them. More debate and less whining about sleaze, please. Governments and ministers should be judged at the ballot box, not by accountants and standards committees. It is the declining standards of democratic accountability that we ought to be worrying about.

    If you are really interested in the institutional corruption and financial feeding frenzy surrounding the nationalisation of personal identity in Britain, take a look at the leaping and creeping of Intellect.

  • “It has not escaped our notice that a company which tests for DNA might also appear to be in a good position to bid for government work in relation to David Blunkett’s great pet project: ID cards which will carry biometric information on every citizen in the country.”

    Is there any evidence to support the suggestion that the proposed National Identity Scheme will use DNA matching?

    Or is Samizdata at risk of being labled an over-imaginative scare-monger?

    Best regards

  • Julian Taylor

    Nigel Sedgwick,

    The ID card chips will, at Clarke and Blunkett’s own admissions, contain the equivalent of over 4x A4 pages of close type of data on each individual. It would not be too hard to have a DNA profile of the card holder, presuming that they have prior arrests or record of being stopped while driving, embedded into that chip in order to have that data available for police officers.

    Regardless of the ID card system Blunkett has made a fortune from a company directly involved in matters of the Home Office, which has profited directly as a consequence of Blunkett’s own policies while he was in office. With the possible exception of Michael Portillo’s allegedly making free use of a BAe-supplied corporate jet to assist in his election campaign in 1992, while he was Defence Secretary, I can’t see how much more overt Blunkett could have made his corruption appear.

  • Since DNA testing is regarded as infallible,DNA information will be embeded in the chips.None of the other proposed identifiers are anywhere near as commonplace or as advanced.
    No doubt information will be available from the NHS,after all a sureptitious AIDS test is conducted on hospital patients,tissue matching is done in the case of prospective donors.It is common to note blood groups.
    All this put on computer by a bored teenager who has been out drinking,dancing,shagging and dropping Es all weekend!

  • @Julian Taylor

    Having said nothing concerning the probity, or otherwise, of David Blunkett (or anyone else), your comment “Regardless of the ID card system…” strikes me as spurious and irrelevent in refuting my criticism. However, if your thought processes tell you otherwise, I will try manfully to show tolerance.

    On your point beginning “The ID card chips will …”, the total amount of data stored for each person registered with the proposed NIdS has little to nothing to do with the suitablity of DNA for NIdS purposes, whether stored on ID cards or within the National Identity Register.

    The currently pertinent issues are the cost of analysing DNA samples and the time it takes; neither of these are conducive to enrolling some 47 million persons, or verifying identity at points of use within a few seconds (though they are most useful concerning solving of very serious crime).

    There is already enough wrong with the world (including at least some aspects of the proposed NIdS) for it to be against the common good to raise and promulgate scarey irrelevancies.

    Best regards

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Nigel, cool it. I think it is entirely plausible to suppose that a firm that is involved in DNA testing might be approached for biometric data for use on things like ID cards. Spare us the intellectual bullying crap about how this shows us to be over-imaginative. The track record of this administration is pretty telling about its desire to poke its nose into the citizen’s affairs. A bit of “imagination” is just common sense defence strategy.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Nigel, apologies for the rather harsh tone of my last comment. I just get really bugged whenever people suggest that we are constantly raising unnecessary scares about privacy, etc. I guess it is the fate of anyone concerned with liberty to be branded as a nut in this country these days.

  • Julian Taylor

    Nigel, what I meant was that the state doesn’t usually have 4 pages of A4 data about most people to put on a chip and thus as a consequence that leaves a lot of room available to store a DNA profile of someone, ostensibly as ‘personal data’ rather than as ‘biometric data’. I hope that might explain the intent of my comment and I apologise if it came across otherwise. My comment re Blunkett was more directed to the rest of the topical thread than your comment … I would hope that from previous comments that my views regarding David Blunkett, and others of his ilk, are well known.

  • Joshua


    I don’t think anyone is leaping to the set conclusion that Blunkett is maneuvering to make money off of the inclusion of DNA in ID cards based on insider knowledge. There’s no hard evidence for that. What they ARE saying is that it’s a real possibility he is – so we shouldn’t be surprised if it turns out to be true.

    Really – politicians do this sort of thing all the time. In Japan there’s even a cultural codeword for it – “Amakudari,” which means something like “descending from Heaven,” to refer to LDP politicians who immediately take up cushy jobs with (construction) companies jockeying for government contracts. I don’t think there’s anything out of line in suggesting that a British politician might be engaging in the same sort of behavior.

    There is no conclusive evidence, no. But there’s enough circumstantial evidence to suggest a closer look might pay off. Any journalist worth his salt will smell a potential story here and start exactly the kind of digging people are suggesting.

    Samizdata is therefore not “scare-mongering” to suggest it.

    Thanks for your concern.

  • guy herbert


    It’s not so much the cards but the database you really have to worry about–as Nigel would agree, I think.

  • APL

    Blunket gets caught with his hand in the till and is eventually compelled to make his second ‘honourable’ resigination, picking up a second golden goodbye.

    John Smith dies a millionaire, making his money from the Thatcher privatisations that he opposed tooth and nail.

    Two labour stalwarts, making their money in inovative ways. Does anyone else think there may be a pattern emerging?

  • John K

    John Smith dies a millionaire, making his money from the Thatcher privatisations that he opposed tooth and nail.

    Wasn’t that Donald Dewar, who also managed to piss away £440 million of (mostly English) taxpayers’ money on the shoddy and banal piece of crap housing the hard working girls and boys of the Scottish Parliament?

  • APL

    John K: “Wasn’t that Donald Dewar,”

    Yes, I believe you are correct, My mistake.

  • Julian Taylor

    Now it transpires that Blair actually fired David Blunkett not, as we may think, over his DNA shares fiasco but because Blunkett failed to declare any of his earnings from public speaking engagements. Blunkett still maintains that he had resigned first, but now Blair has made it clear that he was indeed sacked.

  • John K

    Blunkett still maintains that he had resigned first, but now Blair has made it clear that he was indeed sacked.

    This was all typical NuLabor bullspin. Blunkett had a meeting with Blair, at which he did not resign, then was driven to a meeting with the Select Committee. When he got there, the Committee had left, because they had been told he’d resigned. A bit like Martin Sixsmith, Blunkett was resigned, but no-one told him. It’s almost as if Bliar wanted to rub his nose in it for embarrassing him. Surely not? Now, Blunkett has to spin a story that after his meeting with the Dear Leader, he suddenly realised on the two minute car journey that although he had Toni’s full love and backing, nonetheless he had to go. Makes sense to me.

    Is NuLabor the lyingest administration Britain has ever had? I can’t think of many that run it close.