The Queen's Speech announces the introduction of ID Cards from 2008

Martin Belam  by Martin Belam, 23 November 2004

It is a rare day that finds me agreeing with not only the main opinion feature in the Evening Standard, but the editorial itself - as well as agreeing with a spokesman from the Shadow Cabinet during a two-way on Radio Five Live this evening. However, the announcement today that the government intend to push through legislation to allow for biometric ID cards in the UK before the next election makes it such a day. As the Evening Standard editorial points out:

We await the evidence that will show how ID cards will combat terrorism, given that many likely terrorists are not UK citizens, and a convincing explanation of why this will not turn into yet another government IT disaster

Andrew Gilligan wrote tonight's Evening Standard opinion piece, and pulls two quotes from David Blunkett out of the transcripts of Hansard and compares his 2002 statement:

It is important we do not pretend that an ID card would be an overwhelming factor in combating international terrorism...I have not made such claims, including ruling out their substantial contribution to countering terrorism

With a 2004 assertion that:

An ID card would make "a significant contribution to tackling terrorism"

(I hope he used They Work For You as his research tool)

This was predictable, but particularly depressing stuff after having spent two hours yesterday finally watching parts two and three of the excellent "The Power of Nightmares" programme on my TiVo. It was impossible not to play compare and contrast with today's announcement and the programme's assertion that the concept of a terrorist "network" existing in any meaningful form derived from a desire to prosecute suspects under mafia-era USA law rather than any evidence that such a THRUSH or SPECTRE type organisation existed.

So I then also ended up agreeing with Tim Yeo on the radio, who whilst not guaranteeing the Conservative party would oppose the ID scheme until they had time to see and scrutineer the proposed bill, pretty much said as much.

A rare day indeed.

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