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(en) Britain, Anarchist journal, Resistance #88 - THE STRUGGLE AGAINST ID CARDS Stealing our freedom and identity

Date Fri, 20 Oct 2006 07:43:27 +0200

Just over a decade ago, the Conservative Party very nearly gave us ID cards when
Michael Howard was Home Secretary under John Major's government. But they ran
out of time and Labour won the 1997 election. Since the ID Card Act became law in
March this year Tony Blair has said it will be a "major plank" of Labour's next
election manifesto, whilst heir-apparent Gordon Brown aims to increase even further
the use of ID databases by private companies like banks and supermarkets.
It's clear that both main parties have a history of repression when in power,
whatever they say in opposition. This makes it all the more annoying that No2ID,
the so-called `non-partisan' campaign against ID cards, seem to want to convince
us that the Tories have changed and will scrap it if they win the next election.
Don't believe a word of it ­anything
we hear from now on will be electioneering
rubbish. Conservative MP Anne Widdecome
voted in favour of Labour's identity scheme
on many occasions. On the other hand Labour
politicians like Frank Field strongly
supported ID even when the Tories were
in power, when we were led to believe
New Labour policy was against. This is
the same Merseyside MP who stamped
on the unemployed by supporting Tory
work-for-dole schemes which carried over
into the Job Seeker's Allowance, and is
now very vocal about keeping migrant
workers out of Britain.
Also, if we go back to 1995 we see that
the reasons why the Conservatives wanted
ID cards then - crime, fraud, illegal immi-
gration - are all part of Labour's justifica-
tions for ID except they have now added
terrorism & security. As the human rights
organisation Liberty said at the time, "They
are not backed up by research or evidence
from other countries, but are myths mas-
querading as arguments. "This is exactly
what anarchists are saying now about the
'terror threat' whereas Liberty, now a sup-
porter of No2ID, have moved their argu-
ments to saying ID cards 'won't work', which
is not at all the same as saying these justi-
fications are a complete sham.
There are some other differences from
eleven years ago. Labour is most keen on
using an ID system to help 'modernise' the
welfare state. So they are prepared to spend
billions of pounds on tracking our every
move, whereas Tories are traditionally more
into direct cuts. Cash handouts to private
companies and consultants all add to the
overall cost, as do the biometrics (finger-
printing and eye-scanning) equipment they
intend to use. Britain has led the call for
high-tech passport and identity schemes
across Europe. The Home Office admits it
spent £46 million on its ID project between
May 2003 and May 2006, most of it be-
fore the ID Cards Bill was passed in March!
As well as using databases to help control
spending on public services, Labour no
doubt sees contracts for British telecoms
and security industries as a boost to the
economy, one that we will all pay for of
course, both in our pockets and by our loss
of freedom.
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