Tuesday, July 28, 2009

ID cards are a bureaucrat's luxury

In a excellent pamphlet produced by the Centre for Policy Studies, advocating a new Great Reform Act, the author of Yes Minister, Sir Antony Jay, writes that we are "governed by an increasingly self-serving almost unaccountable political class who are even further out of touch with the interests and wishes of the British people than were the rural aristocracy 200 years ago."

These words came to mind when I read that a YouGov poll had found that 79% of the public are opposed to the ID card scheme on the grounds that they want the estimated £5bn cost of the scheme spent on something else. There is no better example of the Labour machine's arrogant detachment from the people than the pursuit of this policy, which was consolidated last week with the announcement of the regulations on fees, fingerprinting, lifelong compulsory notification, data sharing and penalties.

The scheme is unpopular for obvious reasons, it represents an enormous intrusion, a waste of time and a personal cost to everyone. With the economic crisis, four-fifths of a sample polled by YouGov for the Sunday People believe it has to be scrapped. There can be no clearer message to the home secretary, yet on Thursday Alan Johnson proposes to make further ID card announcements in Manchester – where a trial is due to begin in the Autumn – which completely ignore the public's view.

The disconnect between reality and the government's megalomaniac ambitions to manage everyone's identity has never been more sharply drawn and I believe that opposition will spread to expensive schemes in which the unaccountable political class expect to monitor our movements, communications and behaviour. Only last month Johnson was trying to spin a story that the card would be voluntary. This is nonsense: anyone who wants a passport will have to join the national identity register and submit to slew of regulations and penalties.

As Phil Booth, the national coordinator of NO2ID, who has done so much to oppose the card, said "The game is up. The ID scheme is exposed as a bureaucrat's luxury that can now only be imposed by bullying and subterfuge."

Here is another quote from the Jay's pamphlet, which tells the story of New Labour and indeed the way we are governed in one sentence.

"Over the past 200 years or so, central government has sucked authority, decision making and local independence out of local communities, it has sucked money out of the purses and pockets of citizens, and it has created huge government departments and government institutions, a vast proliferation of tribunals, inspectorates, regulatory authorities, quangos, bureaux and councils, taken on an army of consultants, advisory committees, coordinating bodies, tsars, initiatives, action groups and task forces, and printed millions of questionnaires, application forms, guidance notes, instructions, licenses, tick boxes, information pamphlets and leaflets that, between them, spelt the death of trust and common sense and created the bureaucratic nightmare of 21st-century Britain."

From the loins of this beast came the identity card.

Source: The Guardian

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