Tony Blair has used an article in The Daily Telegraph to make the case for ID cards. The Prime Minister rejects the civil libertarian arguments against cards:
"In a world in which we daily provide information to a whole host of companies and organisations and willingly carry a variety of cards to identify us, I don’t think the civil liberties argument carries much weight."
He also rejects the idea that the scheme cannot be delivered practically by a government machine that has a terrible record in delivering IT projects and points to the success of the Passport Service database.
Pointing to the ways in which many other nations are using biometric technologies Tony Blair argues that ID cards will play a role in tackling illegal immigration, crime, terrorism and identity fraud.
An analysis on UK Polling Report shows declining public support for ID cards – especially when their costs are highlighted. Most British people appear to have few ‘in principle’ civil liberty concerns about ID cards if they could be sure that they would work (which they increasingly doubt).
The Conservative Party has promised to make abolition of ID cards an issue at the next General Election and that the huge spending on the scheme could better be diverted to improved border controls and neighbourhood policing. Labour will be gambling that by the time of the next election the practical problems will be under control and the advertised advantages in fighting fraud, immigration and terrorism will make ID cards a vote winning issue.
Related link: Alex Deane notes David Cameron’s role in launching Britain’s CCTV revolution.
"As usual Tony Blair’s attempted defence of ID cards has left us with more questions than answers. He claims they will deal with benefit fraud, whilst his own Minister pointed out that 95% of benefit fraud is caused by people lying about their circumstances, not their identity. He claims they will tackle terrorism, whilst his Home secretary on the 7th July last year said ‘I doubt it would make a difference’. He wants to spend twenty billion pounds on this project to tackle illegal immigration, but will not spend a tiny fraction of this to control what the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police called “our porous borders”. And he claims it will tackle identity fraud when Microsoft tells us it is more likely to trigger identity fraud on a massive scale. Labour’s record on running huge databases has been one of the serial disasters of the last decade. It is almost certain that the massive database at the centre of this scheme will fail on cost, on time, and on management. It will almost certainly cost twenty billion pounds, will solve very few problems, and may make many much worse. It will be Labour’s final act of ineffective and expensive authoritarianism.”