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We have not yet begun to fight

The abrupt end to the parliamentary wrangling over what we must now get used to calling the Identity Cards Act 2006 has taken many people by surprise. (Not least the parliamentary draftsmen, who find themselves with internal references to the Identity Cards Act 2005 in places.) I still can’t quite figure out what happened, but am starting to think the timing is a matter of Tory electoral and media strategy.

For those benighted souls who are not yet subscribers to NO2ID‘s newsletter, here is our declaration of intent.

The Bill has passed – now the real fight begins.

One of our key tasks is to make the ID scheme politically unsupportable BY ANYONE. We have to make running on a platform that supports (in fact, that does not actively oppose) compulsory registration, a National Identity Register and ID cards political suicide for any party or politician going into any sort of election.

Starting NOW.

This is a long term goal, but one that is absolutely achievable in stages. We are already winning hearts and minds – a 30% shift in public opinion to date – and will continue to do so.

The Government knows that it has to win people over, too – it can’t simply bully its way to its goal, like it did in parliament. But it’ll be hampered by the scheme’s costs spiralling out of control (with the attendant blast of bad publicity every 6 months), the technology failing (predictably or spectacularly), having to background-check and fingerprint perfectly law-abiding citizens, screwing up 1 in 10 (or more) people’s details, issuing a card that is basically no use for anything much but scraping ice off your windscreen until 2013 (except maybe ‘travel within Europe’ – but then you’re getting the thing alongside a proper passport…), etc., etc., etc. PLUS all the stuff we’re going to do!

In May, there are local elections.

We ask that, before the elections, every NO2ID supporter and ID opponent in the country asks every single one of their potential representatives their position on ID cards, and makes it clear to them (especially those who defend the ID scheme) that they will NEVER vote for a supporter of compulsory registration or ID cards. This is not (yet) a ‘decapitation’ strategy, nor are we proposing tactical voting in May – but if enough people do this, the aspiring political class will begin to sit up and take notice.

How many letters, e-mails or meetings will this take? We cannot say. But if you get no response, send another letter – always keep copies – and start writing to your local paper, too: “This candidate refuses to engage with the genuine concerns of a potential constituent, how fit for office can (s)he be?”. Turn up at hustings and wave copies of your unanswered letters. At some point you’ll get a response – and the longer it takes, the worse the candidate looks. If you do get an interesting response, e.g. vehement opposition to the scheme by a Labour candidate, do let us know [send an e-mail to office@no2id.net].

None of this is hard to do. It just requires that enough of us get organised and DO it.

Please start this weekend – find out who your candidates will be. Get their addresses. Write the first letter, construct a questionnaire, see if any of them will respond to e-mail (but don’t rely exclusively on it). And follow through.

In the next five weeks you could sow the seeds of defeat for the ID scheme in your area, but you’ll never know unless you try.

Phil Booth
National Coordinator, NO2ID

What did you do in the war for freedom, Daddy?

(No excuses for those abroad. You can send us money by PayPal through a button on our site.)

16 comments to We have not yet begun to fight

  • Mike Lorrey

    ah, first post..

    Okay, RE my prior comments about moving to New Hampshire: Right now is a really good time to immigrate. With the immigration “reform” bill in congress, all you have to do is come here on a tourist visa, stay beyond your limit, and apply for amnesty that is going to be offered under the bill to all illegal aliens already here in the US. So “make a run for the border” while you can…

  • “I still can’t quite figure out what happened, but am starting to think the timing is a matter of Tory electoral and media strategy.”

    Has there been any explanation from the Conservatives why most of them abstained but 24 of them, including their front bench Home Affairs team voted with the Labour Government on the final vote ?

    If they had all abstained or had all voted against the Bill which, due to the lack of enough Labour rebels would still have been passed, I might have understood their position.

    To appear not to understand that the crucial and most evil part of the scheme is the centralised biometric database rather than the ID SmartCard, after all the letters, articles and briefings which they have received seems very fishy.

    Now I just feel betrayed by the Tories as well as by Labour.

  • Julian Morrison

    I agree. There’s nothing sadder than an “anti” campaign that campaigns for lesser evil. If NO2ID were that sort, they’d be calling for limited scope, negotiated exemptions, legal constraints on allowed use, blah, blah – none of which would matter a damn with the principle surrendered. CF handgun enthusiasts, smokers’ advocates etc.

    I concur with your strategic analysis: it’s not enough to win the match. We need to end the game. “ID cards” need forever-after to evoke a “poll tax” flinch.

  • There is no greater legislative force than inertia (in my experience, fear itself runs a close second).

    In other words, it is much much harder to repeal a bill once passed than to stop it from passing in the first place. That said, I did help kill a regulatory program once, but it was one that had slipped through in the middle of the night, and it still took four years. AND we are still paying the earmark on our license fees to fund the program, ten years on.

    My condolences, and best wishes.

  • Julian Morrison

    R C Dean: I disagree with “it is much much harder to repeal a bill once passed than to stop it from passing in the first place.” You considered inertia but forgot momentum. ID has been building momentum since Michael Howard was home secretary, and probably before. It’s a civil service pet project that has been festering for decades and across ideologically opposite administrations, and now finally has erupted into a boil. Time to lance it!

  • Uain

    “So make a run for the border” while you can…

    Good point Mike. A generous influx of surly Libertarian Brits and Irishmen, reminiscent of our early settlers, would certainly give a boost to the political discourse here in the USA. However, I would add to your advice on overstaying their Visas, in that they also need to appear stupid, easily manipulated by ethnic “spokesmodels” and prone to vote democrat.

  • guy herbert

    Dunno about Irishmen, Uain. One of the problems HMG has to figure out is either how to bully the Republic of Ireland into adopting an interoperable ID scheme, or revoking the free movement between and within the two islands.

    The current plan appears to be for the UK now to push an EU-wide scheme, which would serve both as policy laundering for the Home Office (we can’t scrap it – it’s a Directive!) and the Foreign Office (Look Paddy, its the EU, it’s only coincidentally convenient for Britain).

  • Uain

    This makes Washington DC sound like Utopia.
    I saw an article a few weeks ago where two Grand Dames of the Brit Intelligence agencies (they were spies in WWII) said this ID scheme would be a play ground for organised crime and terrorists. Maybe an effort could be made to play this up to turn the people against the scheme? Do you guys have the equivalent of Fox News or Talk radio over there to bypass the domesticated (goverment aligned) media?

  • Freeman

    One sure-fire way to get the ID card system quashed would be if we could get the Muslim community to vehemently oppose it. Perhaps someone could find a way to persuade them that registration was a covert means for identifying Muslims, with a view to establishing a future obligatory “repatriation” programme. That might get the agitators stared!

  • Stuart

    Freeman, I made a tongue-in-cheek remark to this effect on the No2ID forum a year ago and was ritually burned at the cyber-stake for being “racist”….

    Freedom of speech doesn’t even exist in British cyberspace these days. I’ve lived in the US for nearly four years now and wild horses wouldn’t drag me back to Britain’s green unpleasant land.

  • Julian Morrison

    Stuart, that’s because you and Freeman are being, if not literally racist (muslims not being a race), then at least off-topic and off-colour. You don’t like muslims, you reckon they get special favours from the government, fair enough. But it’s not related to ID cards! At least wait for a vaguely relevant thread before grinding your axe. Otherwise I may be forced to quote Winston Churchill at you.

  • guy herbert

    One sure-fire way to get the ID card system quashed would be if we could get the Muslim community to vehemently oppose it.

    Regardless of the presumptions behind Freeman’s comment, the exercise of engaging the Muslim community is worth doing, and something I’m working on, among a thousand other things.

    Which is why I’ve actually met and talked to various people who are ritually abused by certain commentators.

    The trouble with the Muslim community, even if they genuinely have more to fear from the system than others in the shorter term – which I think is true, for several different reasons – is much the same as the trouble with anyone else: complacency and ignorance. But in their case I fear it is reinforced by a tendency to want to be seen as ‘good Muslims’ in contrast to the Islamist nutters, and so not make a fuss about anything that can be construed as a security measure.

  • Freeman

    It hardly needs mentioning here that politicians regularly tell us half-truths and feed us with disinformation. If we want to win the anti-ID campaign we may (unfortunately) have to play by the same rules, much as one dislikes the idea of stooping to their level. Hence my suggestion that we might consider spreading a little disinformation of our own.
    To generalise the initial thought, perhaps we need to focus opposition on some easily understood aspect of the ID card system that will have very strong negative resonance on a target group of people. It’s what the marketing people do — find a brief and hitting slogan and repeat it endlessly, eg: “Show your face when you show your card.” Make it sound as nasty as it is.
    No doubt others will have better ideas. However, one of my apprehensions is that to gain a good understanding of the dire nature of the ID scheme probably takes more time and effort than most people are prepared to devote, so it slides in under their radar. We need to highlight one or two weak points that will seriously get up the nose of a significant group of people.

  • Julian Morrison

    It’s certainly true that the first thing a bad government looks for is a scapegoat. And the first place they look is at any ethnic or religious population that doesn’t assimilate and against whom bad feeling may have built up. So, for example, muslims have a lot to lose from cards, as do hindus, sikhs, chinese, recent eastern-european immigrants, gypsies, jews. Perhaps a slogan could be “it’s a very small step from an ID card to a yellow star”.

  • Julian Morrison

    Oh, and to go with the above, the slogan could be illustrated with a nice grainy B/W photo of a nazi goose-step. Make a good billboard poster, that would.

  • Stuart

    Julian, how can the idea of (for example) moslems opposing ID cards be off topic? Will their women be photographed without a veil? And probably by a non-moslem at that?
    I doubt it somehow (there is already a precedent when a female moslem convert to the State of Florida to court over this issue on her drivers license last year – and won).
    This will produce anothr nice little earner for Cherie Booth/Blair (as in the Begum case) and make a mockery of the whole exercise.