Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Why I Don't Want an Identity Card

I've had an email from a regular visitor to this Blog who wonders why I haven't written anything on ID cards, and what my position is on them. To be honest I normally steer away from Home Affairs related matters for a very simple reason. If I come out in favour of what the front bench line is people assume it's just because I used to work for David Davis, and if I have reservations it can be written up as me criticising David. So, unusually for me, I tend to keep quiet. However, as I've been asked the question, my position on ID cards is this. I used to be moderately in favour of them, but having spent six months on the 'inside' I have become a rabid opponent. If I thought they would do anything meaningful to help the fight against terrorism, I'd be in favour. If I thought they would stop benefit fraud, I'd be in favour. If I thought they'd help convict more criminals I'd be in favour. But the simple truth is, they will do little if anything do any of these things. And on top of that they are a massive invasion of privacy and civil liberties and will cost the earth. The Government's case might be more convincing if they hadn't made a concerted effort to trash the reputation and career of Professor Simon Davies at the LSE. Professor Davies and his team have estimated that the cost of ID cards could be as much as £300 each. Since then the Prime Minister and Home Secretary have lost no opportunity to slag him off on the media. Much of his government funding has been cut off and he says he is now living on less than £10,000. He described himself in one of the Sunday papers as the latest David Kelly. A bit strong perhaps, but he's essentially a good man who's telling the truth as he sees it. After the treatment meted out to Rose Addis, Pam Warren and David Kelly I certainly do not want the Government to have access to any more of my personal details than they have already. And now they've also gone back on their manifesto commitment to make ID cards voluntary. It now turns out that if you want a new passport you'll have to pay for an ID card too. Just as well I've just renewed mine. I don't think the Government has won the day on ID Cards yet. I suspect the House of Lords will cause a bit more trouble, but, as I said on News 24 last night, I understand Gordon Brown is not as keen on ID cards as the PM. He will be acutely worried by the cost and the difficulties of implementation. I suspect that in the end the whole project could well be shelved after a huge amount of taxpayers' money has been spent on it.

14 comments:

Bulldog said...

Good Man!

I hope to see the Conservative leadership promise to scrap any ID card system when they next form a government.

Having opposed them, there can be no justification for retaining them later on.

Daniel Lucraft said...

You say Prof. Davies funding has been cut. Can you point me too your source on that (I can't find it on google or no2id)?

Presumably that is research council funding from the EPSRC or ESRC. I'm a research student and if this is true I'm gobsmacked that the government can pressure those bodies into retracting agreed funding over a political dispute.

Iain Dale said...

Daniel, I think I read it in the article where he likened himself to David Kelly.

BondWoman said...

You read it here: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2087-2036535,00.html. Before we start slinging mud at the research councils best to note it says: "Simon Davies, a visiting fellow at the London School of Economics (LSE), says he has lost valuable consultancy work and seen his income fall to below £10,000 a year as a result of ministers’ repeated personal attacks."

Watching Them, Watching Us said...

"I understand Gordon Brown is not as keen on ID cards as the PM."

That is not the impression he gave with his speech on Monday to the Royal United Services Institute or in his interview with Andrew Marr on the BBC Sunday AM programme.

Daniel Lucraft said...

OK good. I suppose companies have the right to employ whoever they want.

Doesn't mean I'm letting Clarke et. al. off though.

new tory? said...

I have voted Labour all my life. Now entering my 44th year I will vote for any party that agrees to abolish these grotesque invasions of our liberty for no benefit whatsoever.
I voted Labour because they said they would abolish the House of Lords - they failed. I voted Labour because they were going to introduce a Freedom of Information Act with real teeth - they failed.
I did not vote Labour for detention without trial, threats to my freedom of speech and now ID cards.

leon said...

Good piece.

Bob Piper said...

New Tory... better be New Respect, because none of the others are going along with your agenda.

Could it be that Iain is changing his opinions at the same speed as David Davis, who said in December 2004: "I would not have countenanced ID cards before 11 September. After that, however, I accept that we must consider them." However, yesterday, our flexible friend said... "The ID card will make no difference to serious security issues for at least a decade, if ever, and the difference may not be positive, too."

So, you're OK, New Tory, you can support them, and they will be with you... this week, at least.

Bishop Hill said...

Iain

Any chance of your asking DD if the Conservatives will commit to repeal the legislation? A statement from the party would be useful for many.

BondWoman said...

That wouldn't be more flip-flopping would it, Bob Piper? In terms of reasons for ID cards, let's consider the influence of politicians' friends in the IT business. A graduate student of mine conducted some interviews with politicians in Germany under the previous government, including one with the Greens in the interior ministry, and she said (apparently) that all the pressure for ID cards came from the IT industry in terms of the profits to be made. It certainly did not come from the security forces or police. Anyone got any furthers and betters on that.

Ed said...

As an aside, will the ID cards be compulsory for everyone with a British passport, regardless of whether or not they live in the country?

Nuke Labour said...

The Guardian, 2006/02/15 Page 2. Today on the web. ID Cards.
"If I thought they would do anything meaningful to help the fight against terrorism, I'd be in favour. If I thought they would stop benefit fraud, I'd be in favour. If I thought they'd help convict more criminals I'd be in favour. But the simple truth is, they will do little if anything to any of these things."
iaindale.blogspot.com

Lady Finchley said...

Mr.Piper, the key word here is 'consider'. David Davis said he would consider,and he did. The Conservatives gave the Government six months to answer their questions on cost, fool proof biometrics and just how they would lessen the threat of terrorism, benefit fraud etc. The Government could not answer any of the questions. The die was then cast for Conservative opposition.

Nothing worse than someone who doesn't know the facts talkinng thru their hat.