Written by Politics

Blair on ID Cards

While David Blunkett fights for his political career, today’s also the day that he introduces the ID Cards bill into the Commons.
In the meantime, Blair is expected to address them in his monthly press conference in a few minutes time… Things I’d like him to address are exactly how he thinks ID cards will prevent terrorism>? Exactly how much the scheme is really going to cost? How much every man, woman and child will be mandated to pay for a card (passports are currently not compulsary)? How he can guarantee that the database will be fully secure, despite the fact that potentially tens or even hundreds of thousands of people will have access to it..? Exactly why we need a card when the only time in our history that we previously needed one was when we were at war with Germany who were threatening imminent invasion..? Oh, and why we’re losing more and more of our civil liberties? That’ll do for starters.
[UPDATE] Well Blair certainly talked quite a lot about ID Cards and tried to explain why he thought they’re incredibly necessary – all those criminals who have aliases and foreigners who are using our free services. He also mentioned that there’ll be ten year maximum sentances for people who either put wrong data into the database or misuse the data. Sadly, none of the journlists attending were especially interested in pinning Blair down on this. Understandably, they were more interested in hearing his views on David Blunkett. He’s obviously still backing the man. This is his monthly appearance, so people ask lots of questions about lots of different things.
But ten year jail sentences or not, we know that people are going to misuse the data. Human nature says so. People are going to find themselves privvy to data on an enormous scale – and there are going to be lots of people with access to it.
Eleanor Goodman of Channel 4 News asked whether the government was getting too much into peoples private lives with ID cards, stopping us smoking, health warnings and the like. Blair didn’t see this as irresponsible.
Someone from The Times questioned Blair over the Government’s ability to cope with the IT side of ID Cards. Blair responded talking about it taking time, hence the 2008 start date, and then wandered off talking about the necessity of biometric passports.
A journalist (who’s organisation I missed) did highlight the fact that terrorist acts in other countries including Spain, occurred in places where ID Cards were already in place. Blair reiterated that these would be biometric. And ID Cards won’t stop everyone, but he then went on to talk about illegal immigration and illegal working. That, it seems is the real reason now. Who’d have thought that people living and working illegally in this country will stop the moment they realise that they can’t get a card?
I expect that a full transcript of the press conference will be published at the Downing Street website.
[UPDATE 2] Well here’s that link that I was expecting.
And here are more details of the ID Card Bill that Blunkett is desperate to get through before May. Broadly speaking it seems that we’re mainly getting one of these cards because Blair’s great mate Bush as well as other countries, are insisting we have biometric passports, so it’s not much of a leap to give us ID cards.
Here are some of the things Blunkett says:

The national identity cards scheme will give people confidence, convenience and security in an increasingly vital aspect of modern life � proving and protecting their identity.

Nothing more convenient than being stopped anywhere I may be and being forced to show a card proving that I’m not doing anything wrong – see that Spectator article from the current issue.

It will help tackle the activities of organised criminals and terrorists who depend on the use of multiple identities � identity cards will be a key part of the Government�s wide-ranging programme for tackling organised crime, at the centre of which will be the new Serious Organised Crime Agency

Yup – all those terrorists from 9/11 who weren’t known to the government. Er, none of them. Identity is not at issue with terrorists. In any case, what happens when some Saudi Arabian who has a visa comes to the UK supposedly to do a bit of shopping in Knightsbridge, but in fact to carry out a terrorist attack. ID Cards should prevent that shouldn’t they?

Identity cards will also help in the fight against illegal working and immigration and ensure public services are only used by those entitled to them

I’m pretty certain that all those employers who are currently illegally employing aliens who don’t have National Insurance Numbers will immediately cease their practices.

Safeguards to ensure protection of privacy are a critical part of the identity cards scheme. But our liberties will be strengthened, not weakened, by a universal scheme which ensures that all citizens� identities are protected from abuse.

Not sure how this will be any different from the case currently. Quite how my liberties are being strengthened by a large database having details about my every movement recorded, is something of a mystery.

Publication of the Bill marks a further step in the careful process of consultation and refinement which we began almost three years ago. This is an ambitious, long-term project and we are taking the time and care, drawing on outside expertise, to ensure we get it right.

That’ll be the consultation that saw more respondents oppose the ID Card scheme than report it. The one that resulted in opposition from such people as the president of the Law Society and the Assistant Information Commissioner.

Across the world, the international community is demanding more secure identity in travel documents � including the USA, where visitors will need a biometric passport or visa by October 2005. In a fast-changing world, a national identity cards scheme based on secure biometrics will ensure the UKremains [sic] at the forefront of these developments and our citizens retain the freedom to travel easily.

America wants us to have biometric passports, therefore we will have them.
Unsurpisingly, not one single good reason was made for introducing the most invasive scheme ever proposed by a British government.
This scheme will cost many many times the £3 billion being quoted since vast costs allied to the scheme have simply not been factored in. Gordon Brown must have been most remiss to let these slip through.
Last week I was castagating the Lords over the Hunting Bill. We must now turn to them to hold up and delay this pointless scaremongering legislation that is now the single factor that will never let me vote Labour again.