ID cards next to go?

I am glad to have helped push the ID card and ID computer system to the top of the media list for spending cuts.

Given the way this government does everything for political effect, they may now well cancel the ID scheme themselves “to shoot the Tory’s spending fox”.

I don’t mind if they do. We can always then promote another big unpopular programme. Step forward unelected regional government and the public sector rich list.

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39 Comments

  1. Posted April 28, 2009 at 6:17 am | Permalink

    JR – I don’t care who abolishes the illiberal and authortarian scheme that is the NIR, just so long as someone does.

    • Posted April 28, 2009 at 8:52 am | Permalink

      I second that, Wyvern. Get rid of it — the whole damned thing, not just the front-end (ie. the actual cards).

      • Posted April 28, 2009 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

        Thing is, if they are re-elected, will it just return after?

        I don’t trust Labour. I do believe they would simply lie, delay it and then reinstate the scheme after the election.

  2. Posted April 28, 2009 at 6:53 am | Permalink

    Who in the Cabinet is in favour of scrapping them? The only name I can get so far is Stephen Byers.
    But Excellent news!

  3. Posted April 28, 2009 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    Problem is the contracts all signed and sealed. No wriggle room here and very little money to be saved.

    No way BT and others who have sunk billions are going to walk away for free!!!!

    • Posted April 28, 2009 at 8:33 am | Permalink

      Wrong there is plenty of money to be saved, as like virtually every other IT-based project this Government has touched the initial contract costs are just the tip of the iceberg. There will be cost increases and scope creep on the ID card scheme – you only have to look at the Health Service system (NPfIT) to see how fast and far the costs will increase.

      It it time to cancel the contracts now, pay reasonable termination costs to contractors and move on. Lets stop throwing good money after bad. JR is absolutely right on the ID cards.

      • Posted April 28, 2009 at 11:51 am | Permalink

        Agreed
        If the truth is known the contract is probably all in gobbledygook anyway.
        Can you imagine this Government writing anything in plain English.
        Although you may find that the computer company is on the ball and has very many financial safeguards built in, knowing how this lot have performed in the past on other projects.
        Nevertheless scrap it totally, the whole concept of a terrorist carrying an ID card to prove who he is, is nuts.

      • Posted April 28, 2009 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

        And there will be the costs of running it, year on year. How many extra civil servants requiring offices and pensions and managers to manage them?

        The sooner it’s scrapped the better and the more we save.

  4. Posted April 28, 2009 at 7:18 am | Permalink

    At long last things seem to be turning in a slightly more sensible direction. Mr Straw abandoned one excessively expensive gimmick and Mr Brown has abandoned his plan to increase MPs’ expenses.

    It is slightly irritating to see the government doing the right thing, but only slightly. No doubt it would be highly irritating to anyone who shares the Prime Minister’s view that everything government does should be about party politics rather than making decisions in the public interest.

    Let them move further in the right direction. Such moves will persuade some to vote for them again. So be it, that’s all part of the process. Many more will be swayed by the good sense of the actions and vote for those who want to limit the size and cost of government further.

  5. Posted April 28, 2009 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    Of course the ultimate irony would be if a conservative government is elected here – the Taliban / Al Qaeda take over Pakistan and get their fingers on the nuclear button – and have the resources to send their agents all over the world – and we then need some sort of ‘lock down’ with every citizen needing to be able to prove their identity at road blocks, airports etc … there may come a time when we’ll wish we did have identity cards.

    I have a big issue with the police state that has developed under New Labour – but I don’t have such a big issue with the idea of an identity card – or any system that allows me to prove who I am and, more importantly, prevents someone else from pretending to be me.

    My big problem with identity cards is the cost. For some reason I have never understood, credit cards with the cardholder’s photograph on the back never took off. I had one once and thought is was an excellent idea – at least for making sure no-one used my credit card in a shop.

    Surely, a simple identity card with the holder’s photo on it could be produced for a fiver?

    • Posted April 28, 2009 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

      Mike
      Agree your point exactly about simplicity.
      Its not a problem having a simple identity card (have you ever seen a World WAR 11 one)
      Surely you would think a passport would suffice, so would a driving licence, so would many company identity cards.
      BUT:
      Its what this lot wanted to put on the ID Card is the problem.
      If anyone saw Whatchdog last night which showed DVLA missing out vehicle types, when people were having to renew their driving licence.
      Some people had to retake tests again because DVLA refused to believe that they had passed their test.
      Some motorsts on their new licences were listed as passing a motorcylcle test, instead of a car, when they had never ridden a bike.
      Some were listed as car drivers only, when they have passed a test on both.
      A police motorcyclist was excluded from motorcycles as they said they never had a record of him passing his test, even though he could give them the date and where he took his test.
      The answer given to them all.
      OUR RECORDS ARE NEVER WRONG !
      YOU WILL HAVE TO TAKE YOUR TEST AGAIN IF YOU WANT TO DRIVE THAT VEHICLE TYPE.

      You could only challenge the decision if you could provide THE ORIGINAL Certificate of passing.
      Photocopies of your old licence, and or paperwork were not acceptable.
      The fact that you had to send this in when you made the original application seemed to pass them by.
      They said they kept a record of the original paperwork on micro film for 10 years, then they were automatically destroyed.

      How many more Government departments operate in this way ??

  6. Posted April 28, 2009 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    Let me see if I have this right:

    1. I believe the Government has for years been spending money at a rate well above the nation’s means. The spending spree was based on increasing house prices (now collapsed) and exponential growth in the banking industry (now collapsed). The spending spree played well with the public and had a spectacular pay off in terms of winning elections. The British public and the media loved it. There was never any danger that 364 academic economists would write to the Times saying we were on the edge of disaster as they did with Mrs. Thatcher. Blair and Brown were two of their own.

    2. We are now in a serious recession and have a broken banking system. It will take years to recover.

    3. Recessions mean big losses in tax revenue.

    4. If the tax-pounds run out the Government must either reduce spending or put up taxes.

    5. Many members of the public and the media want to eat their cake and have it. Any reduction in public spending is presented as “Tory cuts”. The subliminal message is that unless New Labour is re-elected nurses will be begging for change on street corners and teachers busking for a cup of coffee on the underground.

    6. The public finances which the Tories will inherit after the election will be in a catastrophic state.

    My Tory election manifesto would state that certain areas – the NHS, the police, education etc. have priority and delivery quality will be ring-fenced but other non-essential spending would be up for grabs. I would start in Westminster with the number of MPs and peers and all the political advisers and spin doctors on the public payroll. Consultants would be next in line.

    I am far from sure that we have heard the last of the bad news. The earthquake took place in October 2008 but there will be quite a few after-shocks with the ominous possibility of a total meltdown still hovering on the distant horizon.

    The British public must make the decision whether they want to live within their means. If they do not then they must face the extremely unpleasant consequences. It is too much to expect our corrupt media to face reality in this way but the public themselves have no choice.

    • Posted April 29, 2009 at 6:20 am | Permalink

      We Essex Boys are on holiday – this is coming from sunny Malta – so we’ve been logging not blogging for 2 weeks.

      And what an excellent 2 weeks it’s been!
      Starting with JR’s excellent budget day speech and latest report to we shareholders of UK plc, the further confirmation of the PMs lack of judgement on McBride, 50% tax, MPs expenses etc, the opinion polls and now U-turns on ludicrous ID cards and plenty else we’d wager!

      We shall re-enter the land we love with a spring in our step, convinced that this site is palying its full past in getting shot of this corrrupt and totally incompetent government!

      CONSERVATIVE COMMON SENSE & COMPETENCE will remain our warcry and, after 5 years of peddling it, we at last feel we’re on the winning track!

      WELL DONE ALL….

  7. Posted April 28, 2009 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    One snag, John, without an ID card in a few months time no one will know who Gordon Brown is!

  8. Posted April 28, 2009 at 7:41 am | Permalink

    I hope you’re right – both for the sake of freedom and saving money.
    By the way, Darling’s budget mentioned some billions of efficiency savings. If they could be saved now, they were there to be saved last week, last month, last year. So just who are the nodding dogs who have been sitting on their paws as our money was thrown away on identifiable ‘inefficiencies’ and who is going to made stand up and be held accountable for proven waste? This is a nice counterpoint to Cameron’s laudable idea of rewarding ministers for spending LESS.

  9. Posted April 28, 2009 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    Mr Redwood, remind me what the UK’s net contribution to the EU is. Now that’s a fox that would be well worth shooting.

    • Posted April 28, 2009 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

      I would like to add a rider to this:
      What, exactly, is the Conservative (not this blog’s) attitude to the new party Libertas?
      Only asking……

      Reply: There won’t be a particular attitude to it. If it stands against Conservatives the the party will fight in an appropriate manner. The Conservatives are unlikely to make public pronouncements on it, as it is unlikely to be a serious contender.

    • Posted April 28, 2009 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

      According to the Pink Book, for 2007 it was £7.3 billion.
      http://www.statistics.gov.uk/downloads/theme_economy/PinkBook_2008_final.pdf
      (see Table 9.2, p138; p144 of the pdf)

  10. Posted April 28, 2009 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    John,

    Can you please expand on “who the unelected regional government” are?

    I don’t mind axing layers of government, so long as I can see a broad brush plan as to how the Conservatives intend to reform the way we are governed from top to bottom.

    In broad terms I’m in favour of small government, that finds a way to let local communities decide where best to invest state finances.

    I also want to see a return to democracy – rather than government by news sound bite.

  11. Posted April 28, 2009 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    “Given the way this government does everything for political effect”.

    Be careful JR, this government can spin these moves to win the moral high ground and put the Opposition behind the eight ball, so to speak. Jacqui Smith and Jack Straw have already done it this week. They will start to look like the good guys!

    Just look at the way they spun to put top bankers at the top of the pariah list. Not that Labour care that much for morals, their real problem is they are running out of cash to pay for these so called “initiatives”.

    Much better sticking the wedge into the Brownite Blairite split. There is a strong chance that Labour will dump Gordo before the next election. They know they are on a looser with him at the helm; and, there is a lot to be gained by putting an English MP in the job to attract the increasing nationalist vote.

    Coming up with a few radical policies to restructure national and local government would help, along with a major overhaul and simplification of the tax and benefits system. Bring back ideologies I say!

  12. M
    Posted April 28, 2009 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    Agreed.

    The notion of ID cards has always been ill-advised and with the recent developments that the communications database will not go ahead (although they are still forcing companies to keep records for them, and expand current powers), maybe the surveillance state is on the decline.. albeit around 4 or 5 years too late while much of the damage has been done and will take a generation to rectify.

    It doesn’t mean we should stop campaigning against these invasive laws and proposals, it means we can win — and should encourage even more.

  13. Posted April 28, 2009 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    ID card scrappage is a good move. However, they still are monitoring our every email and website visited – all for our own good and to catch nasty terrorists of course.

    The Conservatives should abolish all of Nu Labour’s illiberal and state control schemes. If they pledge to that move, watch their ratings soar higher.

  14. Posted April 28, 2009 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    The abolishment of the ID cards will see the new passports revamped to replace them, as the EU directives want every person to have an EU approved ID card.
    The concervatives will have no choice about it under the yoke of the EU.

    As for the Database being dropped for email and phone call collecting, it will be done by private firms instead.
    Everything is being pushed via the back door John, surley you can see this.

    • Posted April 28, 2009 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

      Can you tell me the names of these EU directives, Chris.

      • Posted April 28, 2009 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

        Can’t remember the full details mate, it was a while ago that i saw them, it was on another site that linked to them.

      • Posted April 29, 2009 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

        Can’t find the regulations unfortunately (my connection is way to slow to do any extensive searches) but this may shed some light into what is going on.
        The same company has the contract for both id cards and biometric passports, both off which as of 2011 will contain facial data and fingerprints (which will also be held on the database.)
        One is a plastic ID the other is a paper ID, the system still roles on, they can replace the passport with a card at a later date for “ease of use” and they are then back on track.

        http://www.egovmonitor.com/node/24523

        • Posted April 30, 2009 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

          Thanks, Chris. I liked the claim that “these improvements will further help protect our borders.” 🙂

          As I recall, the impetus for all these additional ‘security measures’ was 9/11 rather than Brussels-inspired. There was a huge row about the amount of information the US wanted on EU citizens.
          http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/5029258.stm

  15. Posted April 28, 2009 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    Blunkett is already talking about turning biometric passports into ID cards. Aren’t biometric passports an EU requirement? If so we’ll end up getting something similar to ID cards which will morph into the real thing pretty quickly unless Cameron tells the EU to get stuffed which seems unlikely.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/8022791.stm

  16. Posted April 28, 2009 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    Mike Wilson,

    Years ago I worked in the USA for a very well known credit card company. We trialled photo ID credit cards in NYK. As part of the trial we sent a very attractive 20 something lady around all the big stores, on her photo credit card was the picture of a gorilla, she was not challenged once about not looking like “her” photo.

    If the ID card was also a drivers licence and passport at the same time then maybe, otherwise forget it.

  17. Posted April 28, 2009 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    The ID card system is inextricably connected to the current Passport System.

    If the Conservatives win the next General Election and cancel ID Cards, there will be little in effect to cancel. The IT infrastructure for passports is being combined with that of ID Cards. So the £650m worth of contracts which were awarded to CSC and IBM for new ID Cards and passports IT will remain largely intact.

    Leaving, as I gather, for the Conservatives to eventually have the option of ID cards or biometric passports when they deem it necessary!

  18. Posted April 28, 2009 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    This will not go away, it has been preordained from on high at the Bilderberger level.
    Westminster will introduce and ID card scheme, one way or another.

    A Microchipped Population
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sPanQV5l_jw

    The New world Order for Dummies
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WRLE_-oVkW0

    OF course it will not stop Terrorism, it is designed to protect them and control YOU not protect us.
    the fact that there will be a 1% failure rate on these devices will mean terrible problems for those affected, yet more beaurocracy, and if the devices are implanted they will fail occaisionally, requiring minor surgery, when tests have been carried out on animals, cancer rates go up.
    But of course, this is of no consequnce in their Great Scheme of things.

    Events are much easier to understand once you accept that we are ruled by people who have no care for us and are simply deranged control freaks.
    Accept that and it all becomes clear.

    Personally I’d have Intelligent police and security officers on the streets rather than plastic ID cards, because it means that our security is decided by Beaurocrats, tens of thousands of moronic robotic civil servants operating the ID card scheme using flow chart decision making, that will make our lives Hell.

    It’s all a complete Mess with no inteligent design to it.
    They are like Farmers, chipping their flock.

    It has come about because those at the top believe they have a Monopoly on Invention, on what is best for society, when it fact If society / humanity is to advance we must ensure that there are as few restraints on anyone, you can never tell where the next good idea will come from.

    Tell them to leave us alone and to stop stifling our Farmers, our Fishermen, our Industries and education system.

    Tell them to get out of our lives.

  19. Posted April 28, 2009 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    As I understand it Jack Straw didn’t back down, instead of Building three Titan Prisons, they are going to build five smaller ones Instead.

    And why do we need more Prisons if crime is going down ?

    Are they going to be anything like the Fema Camps all over America, complete with MILLIONS of plastic coffins.

    Dozens of Fema Camps set up in the US.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OgEe9-XAGAE

    Millions of coffins, ( Bird and Swine Flu Premonition perhaps, good Job our Govt’s can plan ahead, where would we be without them)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6dLisrsB_SQ

    • Posted April 28, 2009 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

      Adrian, it’s not goverments over reacting or preparing for future expected incidents, it’s stupid politicians being sold this crap through fear mongering large corperations.

      It’s all about money mate, just like nearly everything that goes on in this mad cap world.

      • Posted April 29, 2009 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

        Or more likely negligent politicans signing off huge budgets to niave civil servants who can’t think of anything worthwhile to spend it on before April is out.

  20. Posted April 28, 2009 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    Nice idea to get rid of the unelected regional governments, but I think you will find they are required by a directive of our supreme government in Brussels – and therefore there is nothing we can do.

    If you remember, they were overwhelmingly rejected in a vote held in North-East England a few years ago – but they just went ahead anyway.

    That’s life in the EU.

    Out now, and save the money.

  21. Posted April 28, 2009 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

    There is such a groundswell in the country about the EU and it’s dead hand on the UK, that I really can’t understand why the Tories don’t make it a major in their manifesto. The only reason the fringe parties spring up is because non of the major parties will give us what we want, out of the EU.

  22. Posted April 28, 2009 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

    They might make noises about scrapping ID cards now, but be very sure that if by any disastrous means (including likely postal voting anolomolies, and Conservative over complacency) they get a fourth term they’ll be back on the agenda straight away.

  23. Posted April 29, 2009 at 6:49 am | Permalink

    Indeed, the notion of “your papers please” or your ID cards please as it will be is an EU diktat and as such it is “an order which must be obeyed at all times.”

    As such, the Tories will have no choice but to introduce it in some form.

    Unless, Dave decides to leave the EU. Well, one can dream.

    • Posted April 29, 2009 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

      The proliferation in recent years of cctv, a dna database, and other ‘security’ proposals? Not sure the ‘wicked’ hand of Brussels can be seen here, number 6.

      I cannot see a Conservative government leaving the EU. Don’t forget everytime (since 1970) the Tories have been office they have taken a further step towards “ever closer union.” It will not surprise me in the least if Cameron takes us in to the euro.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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