April 13, 2005

ID cards by the back door

Ignoring the fact that the ID card bill has been dropped before even getting to Parliment the government has decided to introduce ID cards anyway (how European) under the guise of an update to the way that passports are issued. The simple fact that this very expensive waste of time is not actually required by the Passport initive that they cite, which only requires that the photo that is already there be there in a digital form as well, appears to have completely missed them. As has the fact that fingerprint readers are extremely unreliable and can be fooled 80% of the time using common simple means.

Baroness Williams is former leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords writes in the Guardian that:
The government invokes "security" to explain its actions. Enthusiastically assisted by some of the tabloids, it uses fear of terrorism and fear of crime to justify tougher sentences, more imprisonment in often disgusting conditions, more regulation and control over our daily lives. Yet other countries equally or more at risk, such as Spain and Germany, have seen no need to react in this way.
exactly, there is a terrorist organisation operating in this country. It is called the IRA. But the IRA is currently on truce so the security threat that we face is currently the lowest that it has been in probably 50 years. On human rights and freedom of speach so loved by New Labour (to get embarrasing thigns about their opposition that happened 10 years ago onto the front pages of the papers) she writes:
Failing to obey an order by a senior police officer during a demonstration within the so-called designated area around parliament, even on issues such as using a loudspeaker or waving too large a placard, can now carry a sentence of up to 51 weeks in jail. Not since Pitt the Younger have such draconian penalties been imposed where no violence is threatened.

Tim Worstall comments that:
What is sad of course is that when they start to tell us this will save us from foreign terrorists, no one will point out that foreigners do not, by definition, have British passports.
Just as ID cards cannot stop Labour Postal Vote fraud, as there is nobody (except that nice man from the Labour Party who has offered to take your ballot to the postbox for you) to check your ballot matches the ID on your card.

The No2ID campaigne are particually annoyed by this wholesale destruction of ancient civil liberties and the British constitution:
By using royal prerogative powers and without the chance for Parliamentary debate or recourse, the government has effectively ripped up the nearest the UK has to a constitutional rulebook – long established customs and practices – as also demonstrated by the announcement of the first 18 month Parliamentary session. The actions of the most autocratic government in recent history are making a fine argument for constitutional reform.
Why did the government do this? As the register article shows there was no need for this mass fingerprinting, it was not required by the excuse that they made. And why this way? Why not wait until Parliment had a chance to debate it? Royal Perogitive is normally only used in the most extreme cases, such as going to war, so what was so extreme and pressing about this? New Labour have after all reformed the House of Lords, it is therefore reformed and ready for the 21st century, the Tyrant Blair having explicitly rejected any elected element in it. So they cannot be that scared when it performs it's function and forces them to revise legislation should this legislation be faulty. Or perhaps the Tyrant Blair is simply getting bored with the whole idea of Parliment and has chosen to rule by decree, with this simply being the first step of a long road. I hope not, but that scenario is not as implausable as it should be.


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