Sunday, February 12, 2006

Gordon Brown and ID cards

So, ID cards will prevent terrorism after all. From the Mail:
ID cards are vital to protect the UK from a repeat of the July 7 terror attacks, Chancellor Gordon Brown said as the Government faces a vital vote on the issue.
However, the cards won't be compulsory just yet:
The government has accepted that completely new legislation will be needed to make the cards compulsory, following defeats in the Lords.

It’s all very confusing. When David Blunkett unveiled his ID card proposals in July 2002 this was the line:
Mr Blunkett claimed that there was no question of the "entitlement card" being a compulsory ID card that individuals would be required to carry at all times... Mr Blunkett played down suggestions that the cards would provide a weapon in the fight against terrorism...
By November 2003 he’d given up trying to sell them as "entitlement cards", and the name wasn’t the only thing that had changed:
David Blunkett said in a statement that ID cards will help "tackle the challenges of the 21st century" including terrorism, organised crime and illegal immigration.

"The draft Identity Cards Bill is about taking the difficult decisions now needed to prepare Britain for the future. It will set out our plans for an incremental approach to the introduction of a compulsory national identity cards scheme," he said.
On April 8 2004 we had this:
Legislation paving the way for a compulsory identity card will be published within the next few weeks, David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, said yesterday... Mr Blunkett maintains that concerns about the threat from international terrorism have overridden any civil liberties objections.
But a couple of weeks later:
David Blunkett yesterday watered down suggestions that ID cards would stop terrorists as he set out plans to introduce a compulsory scheme within 10 years.
The Home Secretary denied that the main reason for proceeding with the first ID scheme in 50 years was to counter terrorism
On November 17 2004 the Home Office told us:
Liberties will be strengthened, not weakened, through an ID cards scheme.

That would be the liberty to get fined, as announced on November 29 2004:
...civil penalties would include up to a £1,000 fine for people who fail to say they have moved house or changed other details and up to £2,500 for failing to sign up if the cards become compulsory.
When Blunkett lost his job in December 2004, his replacement Charles Clarke immediately set out his stall:
From preventing benefit fraud to winning the War on Terror, why I am supporting today’s Bill

Two days after the London bombings things were a little different:
Identity cards would not have prevented the bombings, Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, said yesterday.

By November 7 2005 Clarke had changed tack again, telling the House of Commons this:
We have set out the figures very clearly, and ID cards contribute to our ability to defend ourselves against terrorism...
And now Gordon’s saying the same thing.

Why do we need ID cards? Depends which way the wind’s blowing.


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