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Putting the ‘con’ in consultation

You may not know that a Home Office minister is touring the UK holding ‘consultation’ meetings about the National Identity Scheme, and that it is more nonsensical than even the average government consultation exercise. She is, however, and nothing will be allowed to stand in her way. 3 members of NO2ID were arrested this morning for “suspected breach of the peace” while protesting outside the venue of the Edinburgh consultation exercise. Making ministers look bad will these days get you hustled away by police, apparently.

The reason the ‘consultation’ is even more fatuous than usual is this. There is no question the intention is to go ahead: the legislation was passed two years ago. And any questioning of the plan is ruled out of order – if not, indeed, arrestable. The object of this tour is to gather together “stakeholders” – businesses and voluntary organisations, and to persuade them that helping the government strong-arm their customers, staff and volunteers into enrolling will ultimately be for the good of all. In fact it seeks suggestions from them how best to get universal compliance.

Rounding up any dissidents is the last resort, of course.

Update: Apparently 9 people are still in custody at time of writing (18:20 BST). Hat-tip: Glasgow Herald, who called me for a statement.

Update 2: (06:23 BST) You can read the account of Geraint Bevan, of NO2ID Scotland, here. (The hard scientists among our readers will be pleased to know that the ‘Dr’ signifies Geraint just got his PhD in engineering.)

9 comments to Putting the ‘con’ in consultation

  • Guy, when is this roadshow in Manchester? If you can let me know I shall be there.

    “suspected breach of the peace” WTF? It reminds me of a terrible joke.

    “You heard about that fella who was arrested for spraying coppers with Domestos?”

    “Yeah, he was done for bleach of the police“.

    Apparently the dad of a lad I went to school with who was on the club-circuit (the dad, not the lad) used to bring the house down with that one.

    Simpler times, I guess.

  • Jeremy Poynton

    On protest, it is clear that this government will not allow peaceful protest, and will do its damnedest to cause trouble, as at the Fuck you Bush/Fuck you Brown demo the other day in Whitehall. No trouble till the riot police came in and did their usual “random” pickups. Including my partner’s sweet & innocent daughter, who has been accused of assault & affray, for apparently “throwing a barrier at a policeman”. Any fucking idiot can see she couldn’t even lift one up, never mind throw it, and now she is threatened with a criminal record for live.

    Way to go Brownie! One more radical who hates your guts.

  • Sam Duncan

    “We are committed to providing people with the option of having an identity card” –
    Meg Hillier, Home Office minister for identity

    And here was me thinking we already had that option.

    Of course we all know that she really means, “We are committed to forcing everyone on to our database while maintaining the illusion that it’s voluntary”.

  • guy herbert

    Nick M,

    I think they already did Manchester. This was the last day of the discreet con, whioch has been going on for a while. The first one, as far as we know, was in Cambridge. They managed to make that one so secret and so last-minute that we had more protestors outside than there were invited guests inside.

  • Rob

    “We are committed to providing people with the option of having an identity card which will make day-to-day life much easier.”

    Oh, really? Much easier? Perhaps it will load my clothes into the washing machine for me. Or maybe it will reduce overcrowding on the train when I go to work. Ah, no. It will make the State’s day-to-day task of controlling you much easier.

  • John K

    The only consolation is that this shower of shite will all be out of their jobs by 2010. One of the few reasons for voting for Green Dave is that he is committed to abolishing the ID card scheme. If he simply does a rerun of his plan to leave the EPP, finding it “too difficult” then we will have to take to the streets I suppose.

  • guy herbert


    Note the missing comparator. Not easier than it is now. Easier in the future compared with how life is for the non-compliant. HMG has all sorts of plans for introducing ‘incentives’, sideways.

  • As one of the “NO2ID Nine”, I’d like to make a few comments. Regarding the protest outside the hotel, if we’d remained outside, I very much doubt the police would have been called.

    I was surprised they were called even so. We were peaceful at all times and made to leave after Geraint’s interview with STV, a point agreed with by the hotel manager when he approach us to ask us to leave. Only then did we find out that the police had been called as they were in the foyer waiting to talk to us and later arrest us.

    I was the first of the men to be released, at 8.15pm, the rest were out by 10pm.

    The two women arrested were home by the time I phoned one of them at 8.30pm, which at least confirmed the comments the police had made to us about them being processed as quickly as possible due to their having children to look after. Note that they had at least an hour’s journey to get back home having come through from Glasgow.

    Had we not been charged they would have had to release as all at 6.30pm. In fact, the police told us that they’d be surprised if we’d be held that long, suggesting the police didn’t think charges would be pressed at that point.

    Aside from an incident involving a mask being pulled off a protester’s head (possibly caught on camera by STV!) I feel the police treated us all courteously and with respect, but their hands were tied by whoever it is who’s pressing for the charges.

    Regarding the CONsultation, the BBC that morning reported Edinburgh’s meeting as the launch when our understanding is it’s the final meeting!

    Even if Edinburgh’s not the final meeting it’s been going on quietly for months, with vetted guests, and Hillier refused to attend a public meeting with us. At the last moment she offered us a private meeting, during the time scheduled for our protest, which we’d alerted the press to before getting this offer.

    It’s worth checking the NO2ID debating forums for the discussion there.

  • Jaqueline Maitland

    As one of the NINE, I would like to thank you, Guy, for your comments to the papers. I feel reassured and backed up by what you said.

    We are at all times peaceful. And always ready to comply with the demands of the authorities. If they wish us to move on I will. This is why I am always happy to take my young son along to protests. I know that I can trust those involved to be peaceable and good natured.

    So to be detained and then arrested, without even being asked to move on, was shocking. It will be interesting to find out who it was that made a complaint against us, considering I came across all the IPS guys plotting in the foyer 10 minutes before the police started arriving.

    Jaq x