Alan Connor explains."> Ihre Papiere, bitte
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Home > Politics

Ihre Papiere, bitte

Alan Connor must have something to hide.

11 November 2003

Breaking non-news: The ID Cards announced this lunchtime will not work. Even if the technology isn't shipped out to some for-profit nerkles, does Blunkett really believe the cards will be unforgeable? Or that the data won't be abused by government agencies? Or that British people find it slightly creepy that the government wants everyone to carry their state ID at all times?

Except, of course, the government has listened this time. There was a consultation exercise (you might recall Beverley Hughes talking about the 2,000 responses, and Stand wondering what had happened to the 5,000 responses that flew through their site alone, and what it would mean if they'd all been conflated into one single "no thanks" vote.)

Well, the Home Office report on the consultation is out. A choice conclusion:

13. The consultation demonstrated that the public prefer the term "identity card" to "entitlement card" and we accept their judgement.

Oh, thanks. I'd also prefer section 44 of the new Terrorism Act [ see earlier post ] to be called U-R-Nicked-Mate, and the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 [ more ] to be called The Big Ear, and tag-monitored curfews to be called Beddy-Byes, and illegal occupations to be called Liber... oh. Never mind the last one.

If Blunkett is dishing out the tiny little courtesies, here's one I'd like: is the point of this exercise to battle identity fraud, as you claimed? Or to enable entitlement to benefits? Or, as you were banging on about, to stop terrorism?

Because otherwise, it's all reminiscent of the guy in court after his dog has bitten someone:

Well, my dog doesn't bite. And he was tied up that night. Also, I question whether you did get bitten. Plus I don't actually have a dog.

I don't want to resort to the conclusion that Straw, Blunkett and Blair (let's not pretend this won't have approval from the top) are just over-habituated to making laws and like being in charge. But until we get a single good reason for compulsory ID Entitlement Cards, it's hard.

Another argument we may be hearing is Tony's doublespeak from conference time:

"In a world of mass migration, with cheaper travel and all the problems of fraud, it makes sense to ask whether identity cards were no longer an affront to civil liberties but a way of protecting them".

At the time, we recommended reading David Aaronovitch's contemporaneous big-up of ID Cards in The Guardian and a few of the ways he was misinformed here.

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