Cancel ID Cards! Cancel Them Now!

It appears the government (and by government I do not mean Gordon Brown or Jacqui Smith) is starting to worry about the message they’re sending out by holding on to their hugely expensive projects to control the population, at a time when they can’t afford to do so. Inevitably this has now come round to ID cards:

Senior cabinet ministers are privately discussing a plan to scrap the Government’s £5bn identity cards programme as part of cuts to public spending, The Independent has learnt.

The ministers believe that some “sacred cows” will have to be sacrificed in the effort to reduce Britain’s debt mountain. They are raising fresh questions over the future of the ID card programme as the Cabinet faces renewed pressure to find economies beyond a promised £9bn in “efficiency savings”.

“My sense is that ID cards will not go ahead,” a senior Cabinet Minister said. “We have to find savings somewhere, and it would be better to shelve schemes like this that aren’t popular.”

A ComRes poll for The Independent today finds 55 per cent of voters favour public spending cuts to reduce Britain’s debts, against 38 per cent who want taxes to be increased. It also finds that the Tory lead over Labour has widened from 12 to 19 points since the Budget.

Issuing ID cards will cost more than £5bn over the next decade while scrapping the scheme now would leave the taxpayer with a relatively small compensation bill to pay.

Cabinet sceptics are preparing to use the public spending crunch to push for the scheme to be abandoned before the first cards are issued to British nationals this winter.

David Cameron, the Conservative leader, has said the programme will be scrapped if his party wins the election expected to take place in May 2010.

But Gordon Brown has so far proved immovable on the issue, with Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, insisting last month that the Government was “on track” to introduce ID cards.

The country must realise that at a time when the government simply can’t afford to push on with ID cards, if they do so regardless it really is because they are desperate to control us, that the control element really isn’t an unfortunate by-product of an otherwise good idea. They can save £5 billion? Why not? ID cards won’t help against terrorism or ID theft, would be an obscenely nationalistic device to access public services, and their implementation would contravene the Universal Declaration of Human Rights itself. Refuse to sign up? You won’t be issued a passport, so won’t be able to leave and return to this country – a fundamental human right the government doesn’t have the political or moral authority to restrict under any circumstances. Refuse to hand yours over? Straight to jail. Fail to update information which isn’t their business to know? Get a large fine! Conscientiously object, but need a student loan for university? Denied!

Oh and to those who say if you’ve got nothing to fear if you’ve got nothing to hide? Did you see those police batons at the G20 protest? The victims were all of us – getting beaten without breaking any laws or having anything to hide. What do you think? Should the government spend £5 billion on this or say community centres, state pensions, youth clubs, prison improvements, roads or any other infrastructure we actually need?

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