I’ve never understood the point of the Identity Card idea – to me it just seems so unlikely to work in fighting terrorism because of the simple fact that anyone who is prepared to kill themselves and others for their beliefs is unlikely to be put off by the requirement to have a piece of plastic, or be averse to using a false identity.
It is also staggeringly expensive – about £6 billion pounds worth of expensive even if you don’t count the cost to all the government departments to actually use the wretched things. The scanner your GP will need to read your card isn’t included in that £6 billion, for example. And you’ll have to pay somewhere in the region of £60 to £90 to get a card – which you will have to have.
There is also the civil rights objection, that people should have the freedom to not identify themselves if they wish.
I’m no doubt missing something brilliant about them though, because some people think they are great idea. Kevin Barron has voted strongly in favour of them consistently, but when I have written to him to ask why he thinks they are a good idea he has refused to answer.
The government seem to think the cards are such a brilliant idea that the Home Secretary was boasting only 6 weeks ago that they had deliberately structured the contracts for implementing them so that it would be expensive for an incoming government to scrap them.
And then came the budget. And the realisation that actually, having looked down the back of the national sofa we don’t have £6 billion – let alone £6 billion plus the extra costs it would take to make the cards any use. Oh, and quite a lot of people are a bit hard-up at the moment what with one thing (inadequate regulation of the financial markets) and another (the huge tax burden that comes from bailing out the banks) and so might not take too kindly to being forced to pay £90 for a card so they can identify themselves to their GP who already knows them.
Suddenly all the arguments about civil liberties, and whether it will achieve anything or make the country safer – were irrelevant. In much the same way that it doesn’t really matter much to me if my baby seat would be easy to get in and out of a Ferrari because I can’t afford one anyway, it doesn’t matter what benefits of otherwise the ID Card scheme will bring because we haven’t got £6 billion to find out. Even the architect of the whole idea, Sheffield’s own David Blunkett said recently that the idea should be scrapped. Labourlist.org (which is much better now Derek Draper is nothing to do with it) also had an article recently arguing that the idea was ill-advised and illogical.
One wonders if Kevin Barron has changed his mind? Kevin – I know you read this because you wrote to me and told me you do – could you let me know via the blog or via a letter, what your views are with regard to ID cards now?