Monday, June 27, 2005



I think there is some kind of conspiracy going on, as I just wrote (for the second time) a lengthy post about ID cards, pressed 'Publish' and watched the whole thing disappear...

Anyway, go here and here, and read all about it. Then go here and sign the pledge!

EDIT: I have made amends, by writing to Andrew Slaughter, my MP. Click on 'more' to see the letter.

"Dear Mr Slaughter,

I am writing in connection with the Bill to introduce ID cards to the UK. Or, perhaps that should be RE-introduce, since they were abolished after the Second World War on the grounds that there was no need for them.

The government has informed us that ID cards are necessary. This would be more credible if they did not keep changing the reason why they were necessary. First we were told that they were necessary to combat terrorism. Then we were told that they would help combat benefit fraud. The third reason given was that they would help to control illegal immigration.

Not one of these reasons stands up to scrutiny. For example, the 9/11 hijackers carried legitimate IDs - terrorists often have no history of terrorist activity before they carry out an attack. ID cards did nothing to prevent the attack on the World Trade Center. The benefit fraud argument falls down on two counts: the cost of the ID scheme would far outweigh the income saved in fraudulent benefits paid out; and, in any case, benefit fraud occurs because people lie about their circumstances, not about who they are. As for controlling illegal immigration, is this really the best use of £6 billion?

In addition to the fact that ID cards will not fulfil the functions the government has promised, there are several other reasons for opposing their introduction. First, the introduction of a national database of people's identities will be necessary. The government has not given us sufficient reassurance as to the security of this database - what is to prevent my details falling into the wrong hands, through deliberate or erroneous action (or even for commercial gain, which I know the Home Office has been considering)? Second, as has been widely reported, the cost of the scheme is phenomenal and there is no evidence that the expenditure will be worth it (as noted above). Third, the cost to individuals is ridiculous - even if we accept the lowest predicted figure, £93 is a lot of money for what is effectively a compulsory document (in addition to the other documents we need which are de facto compulsory, such as passports and driving licences). Fourth, the 'sophisticated' technology which will be built into the cards has been shown in tests to be ineffective as much as one-third of the time (and, as it happens, the scanning technology tends to mis-read the faces of non-white people most frequently, which has implications of its own). Fifth, the technology will need constant renewal, and I have seen it reported that this could be as often as every five years. Sixth, the database, like all databases, will itself need constant updating and is liable to be at least 10% inaccurate all the time. There are other reasons for questioning the scheme, but these are the main ones.

I simply cannot believe that Labour backbenchers are willing to put their own careers, and the future of the government, at risk for this unproven, unwelcome and unreliable idea. I do not believe talk of 'New Labour's Poll Tax' is premature. I have been campaigning against the Conservatives for almost twenty years and do not wish to give them easy ammunition.

I urge you to bear in mind the above considerations when you come to vote on the issue this week. I appreciate that you will probably be unable to reply to this letter (I apologise for its length); however I would be keenly interested in any response you can make."

This was sent courtesy of I'll let you all know if I get any response. He's a government loyalist so don't hold your breath, y'all.

EDIT: I see that, according to Backword Dave, Blair actually said yesterday (Monday 27 June): "No government is going to start introducing something that’s going to cost hundreds of pounds to people — that would be ridiculous."

I'll repeat that: "No government is going to start introducing something that’s going to cost hundreds of pounds to people — that would be ridiculous."

I'll take that as a promise, Tony.


Post a Comment

<< Home