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Samizdata quote of the day

It is part of being a good citizen to prove who you are day in, day out.

– Andy Burnham MP

43 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • rosignol

    Can we have a link to some context?

  • J

    Unbelievably, it’s an argument in support of ID cards. Apparently, we _literally_ have to prove who we are. I thought it was some fairly anondyne statement about making sure we are true to ourselves or something. Ack.


  • David

    Context is easy. He’s a fascist who wants us all to be his supplicants.

  • Brother Burnham hath spoken, yea verily, and so shall we respond.

    All hail the people’s republic.

  • Robin Goodfellow

    “People shouldn’t be afraid of their government, governments should be afraid of their people.” – V

  • Matt

    What a goon. Is he actually trying to sound Orwellian?

  • NeilR

    We have to prove who we are?

    They say if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.

    I say if you have nothing to hide, why should you have to prove it?

  • GCooper

    Did anyone see where I left my roll of piano wire?

  • Paul Marks

    All part of “active citizenship”.

    “Politics IS freedom” as it says in Bernard Crick’s “In Defence of Politics” (1962) one of the main texts of the ruling elite.

    Freedom is not a limitation on the state, it is being part of the state – but in a “guided” way of course (otherwise the masses might opt for the death penality, or to leave the E.U.).

    The citizens must be “educated” to be part of the progressive consensus. The set of ideas and attitudes that Blair, Cameron, Brown (and so on) all share.

    I will be teaching about “active citizenship” to a Politics class next week.

    Should I depart from correct thinking I will, of course, be asked to leave the school. And perhaps rightly so – as if the “students” have incorrect thoughts they might one day express them (which would destroy their lives).

  • Julian Taylor

    Burnham appears to be one of Blair’s principle remaining fanboys, now that the other rats Labour MPs are deserting the sinking Blair gravytrain, and it would seem that the man can be relied upon to pop up and introduce the ID card bill into any debate, almost as an automatic reflex. Take the recent glorification of terrorism amendment debate on the 16th March. When Dominic Grieve commented on the Danish Embassy protest who should pop up to say, “ID cards might have been quite useful.” … yes, you’ve guessed it, none other that little Andy Burnham. Of course Grieve’s complete demolition of Burnham’s point was irrelevant, just that he had been seen to make the gesture.

  • rosignol

    They say if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.


    In the abscense of probable cause to give the police reason to think something illegal is going on, who I am and what I’m doing is none of the government’s business.

  • David

    Sadly Rosignol, the government and its cheerleaders disagree profoundly with you on that one.
    In fact if they had their way your mere thought process on this issue would be illegal – so in the end your argument fails in their eyes.

    This ID card fiasco is all going to end in tears.

  • Brendan Halfweeg

    Propaganda works because it appeals to simple ideas, it is much easier to market a proposition than it is to defend a principle.

    “Privacy, the last refuge of an honest citizen”

  • Nick M

    Perhaps Tony Blair wants to put Eric Blair’s policies into action.

  • The claim that the innocent have nothing to fear can be easily refuted by pointing out that it is only true if:

    (a) The police never make any mistakes

    (b) The courts never wrongly convict anyone

    (c) Nobody in a position of authority ever abuses the power they have been given

    Put that to any NuLab loyalists you may encounter. If they claim that all those things are true they will be exposed as fools or liars. If they don’t, ask them just how much “collateral damage” to innocent people they are willing to accept as the price of the alleged benefits of ID cards.

  • Pete_London

    Paul Marks:

    I will be teaching about “active citizenship” to a Politics class next week.

    I suppose it will be too much to hope that proceedings will consist of the approved text, a few gallons of petrol and a match?

    As for that piece of snot called Andy Burnham, it will be an honour to be regarded as a bad citizen by him.

  • The same Andy Burnham who said in the Observer last Sunday:

    “ID cards will be used when it is important to verify identity. That is not an everyday occurrence for the majority…”

  • John K

    Andy Burnham proves that he is a complete and utter twat, day in, day out.

  • permanent expat

    “Nothing to hide, nothing to fear” is probably the most pornographic statement a human being can make. Untold millions of my fellow men lie dead at the hands of various states because they were told that….& believed it…………..Oh, unmerciful God!

  • Johnathan

    Maybe Burnham wants an ID card to remind him of who is because he is half pissed much of the time.

  • David

    “Nothing to hide, nothing to fear” – try telling that to the 1930’s jews of Vienna or the jews in the Netherlands of the same period.
    Oh not possible – they were all pretty much disposed of. The single biggest tool used to round them up of course being the ID cards and supporting databases of the time.

  • Freeman

    Burnham’s letter to the Daily Telegraph today says that:
    Information that may be held by the identity cards scheme is strictly limited by the Bill and includes only personal information such as name, address, date and place of birth.
    (Perhaps he should also have added digital photo and fingerprints.)
    In the letter he goes on to mention limited official access to a National Identity Card Register.
    So, we are being lined up to have an ID system comprising a card scheme and a national register. It’s not clear to me from his letter whether or not the card and national register are intended to store the same information but I suspect not. There is clearly plenty of scope for the national register to hold a lot more information than just what is on the card. An analogy is with credit cards where the card stores basic ID info and the central data base holds your transactional data.
    If what Burnham says about the data on the card is correct then it will not identify (eg) whether the holder is a UK citizen, or whether he is entitled to benefits, or whether he pays tax, and the address may not be current in the case of an itinerant worker.
    One cannot escape concluding that the “success” of ID cards will depend heavily on what else is stored on the central data base and how readily officials can access it. By analogy with credit cards, they only work because storekeepers (cf officials) can access the central data base every time the card is used; so it must be with ID cards if they are to serve any useful purpose. Hence the need to prove who you are day in, day out.
    Why does that phrase make me think of boots and faces?

  • The more critical an ID becomes, the more damage can be done by anyone who learns how to fake one up. Can any government official convince anyone that counterfeiting a national ID is impossible? Of course, if the government’s laws were rational and its power limited, the amount of harm a national ID could do would be limited. If.

  • Freeman

    Robert Speirs mentions the harm that could be done with a faked ID. I imagine someone will eventually do just that, and it may be difficult to detect unless a suspect card can be easily and quickly checked against the on-line data base. This verification probably needs some “secret” (hash) data on a legitimate card to allow it to be checked, in the same way that a secret PIN enables a credit card user to be linked to his card.
    It’s going to be interesting when politicians first have their cards faked, or when someone unauthorised “cracks” into the data base and publishes confidential data.
    What’s the betting that they will then demand a two-tier ID system with highly restricted access to VIPs’ data?
    Something like a gold ID card? Will gold ID cards be for sale or do they come with a peerage?

  • Heh. Aim higher – the platinum ID card – achieved by dobbing in a certain number of “tax cheats” and TV licence evaders. Imagine the delights the rewards programme would yield. Free tickets to Cherie Blair’s next public speaking engagement, anyone?

  • David

    And for those really top class snitches theres the invitation only Black ID card – opens doors that you didn’t even know existed.

  • Why not just combine the national ID with a credit card, so the government can regulate people’s credit and can be made aware of any socially undesirable transactions? Then there would be the automatic mandatory deductions for the purchase of government securities. Don’t want to give anyone ideas, but something tells me they’re already thinking along this line.

  • Not necessary, Robert. Your NIR number will become an essential part of any consumer credit application in due course. How else would it be possible (a) for the banks to comply with “know your customer” requirements once the Home Office is the arbiter and guardian of personal identity, or (b) for your credit card spending to be reliably indexed for official inspection.

    Freeman, you really haven’t been following this, have you? — But that’s alright because the ministers promoting it frequently don’t seem to have been either. It has been in parliament since Summer 2004 in some form or another, and it has been astonishingly difficult to raise parliamentary interest, never mind public. Anyone with money for an advertising campaign should definitely get in touch.

    Here is an ultra-concise guide to the scheme.

  • Oh, I think the government has considerable room for “enhancement” of the scheme as laid out by the No2ID folks. When everyone has a card with government-controlled credit on it, why bother with cash? What have you got to hide by making an unregistered transaction? Cancellation of one’s card would become a kind of “civil death”. Commodities of all types could have undetectably implanted RFID threads that could be traced back to the last purchaser. And paying your taxes by automatic deduction would be so much easier than filling out those irksome forms, although for some reason the number of bureaucrats would not decrease. No exit.

  • Freeman

    guy herbert — Thanks for re-inforcing the warning. I did have a one-to-one meeting with my MP last year to express my extreme concern.
    My point of adding comment here was to contrast the anodyne words Burnham’s letter with what we know is the tragic prospect.

  • Tme to start shooting. Oh, wait….

  • Verity

    Britons were always the freest people in the world. Other people, especially on the continong, envied us our vast, limitless freedoms.

    And now, brought low because they allowed it, the yoke is on their neck. I have no sympathy. They allowed it. Not Guy Herbert and all the people who fought, but such are a diminishing breed. Britain doesn’t want to fight any more. It wants to be subsumed … in a strange, Dracula-like dream, it is walking forward towards the fangs that will finally suck the life out of it.

  • James

    Winston Smith would be proud.

    What a damn shame…..

  • I wish the government didn’t know who I was – Rush Limbaugh

    (quoted from memory)

  • guy herbert

    Not Guy Herbert and all the people who fought…

    Less of the preterite, please. I have not yet begun to fight.

  • guy herbert

    Burnham appears to be one of Blair’s principle remaining fanboy…

    Not quite. He’s the ambitious junior minister who drew the short straw. I sometimes feel quite sorry for him. The Home Office seems to be briefing ministers very shoddily, and he’s not quite coping on his own. Perhaps the Home Office is still keeping important details secret from its spokesmen. (As it is from the would-be contractors, would you believe?)

    It appears that Charles Clarke will stand up today to claim a triumph and take all the credit, having had Burnham do all the dirty work. That’s politics. I wonder if he will resist the temptation to rub parliament’s nose in how comprehensively it has been cozened.

  • rosignol

    Hm. A Brit, quoting John Paul Jones?

    Strange days.

  • HJ1

    Hm. A Brit, quoting John Paul Jones?

    Strange days.

    John Paul Jones was a Brit.

  • rosignol

    Originally, yes.

  • Dave F

    if enough people refuse to carry them, the scheme will fail, since the judicial system certainly will not be able to cope. I doubt very much if the average Briton has the slightest idea of the implications or what will be required of all citizens. I see a bureaucratic nightmare in the making. In the end I expect the thing could be successfully challenged in the Euro court.

  • Brendan Halfweeg

    The other danger besides unauthorised access to a government held database is private industry creating its own database using the ID card number as an identifier. Cross linking all the information you willing give individual enterprises to form a mass database would be possible, even probable if you could associated a single identifier to it. This is already happening with credit card numbers, drivers license numbers, passport numbers and all the other numbers that define us, but the ID card will give everyone a single number which which to unite the disparate databases that already contain information on us.

  • Paul Marks

    To Pete_London.

    Sadly no.

    However, I have decided to allow a “class discussion”, and if any of the “students” (as we have to call pupils these days) decides to attack the I.D. cards, or Terrorism Acts or the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill, it will be nothing to do with me.

    Especially if the students who attack such things happen to be from the left of politics. Whoever attacks, it is still showing up the hollow sham that “active citizenship” is. A system where people are expected to get involved in politics in order for the government to pretend that what it does is really the people doing things to themselves.

    It so happens that I will have an “observer” from the University of Bolton at the class. But as there is no way I can get the 120 hours documented teaching time, there is nothing for me to fear.

    They can not refuse me the bit of paper (the “Post Compulsory P.G.C.E.) that they were not going to give me anyway.

    Still, most likely, nothing much will happen.

    I do not believe in telling children (they are still children in my eyes) what they should think.

    So if none of the students attacks this nasty regime, then it will not get attacked (I am not going to turn a class into a thoughts of Chairman Marks indoctrination session).

    The mad thing is that they have to buy there own textbooks (in spite of all the vast amounts of money tossed about).

    This is true for both Politics and History “A” level work.

    Actually the Politics textbooks are not nearly as bad as the History ones.

    The History classes really are statist indoctrination (both the textbooks, for those children that have one, and the handouts are very bad).

    But, to be fair, in the Politics classes there is a chance that a student might be given a little food for thought. At least there is an acceptance in Politics textbooks (however biased) that alternative opinions exist.

    Of course today is a sad day.

    The I.D. card Bill becomes law today.

    In a couple of years one will not be allowed to leave the country (with a new passport) without passing on all the I.D. card information (and getting an I.D. card).

    Nothing to do with commands from the E.U. – or with Mr Blair (and the rest of the political class) hating liberty.

    No, they just want to “help” us.