Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Identity cards – Do you think they are a good idea?

I can’t believe it is exactly two years since Gordon brown became Prime minister. An awful lot has happened during that intervening period, including changes in policies. One of the most controversial topics is ID cards.

As I see it, the government is sending out mixed messages about them.
ID cards were first suggested by John Major, but he was quickly ignored. David Blunkett (2001) resurrected the idea, but there were concerns that it would be a gold mine for fraudsters. Last year the Home Office statistics revealed that 60 % of the population were in favour of them, but this figure is now thought to have dropped to a 50-50 - thus no consensus. The cost of producing them may now be a major reason why we have this sudden hotchpotch of confusion.

My advice to the government would have been to calmly consider what benefits the population would gain by them, balanced against any objections and drawbacks. Having decided what was in the general best interest of all of us, to then make it either compulsory for all, or not have them. What I can’t stand is all the dithering about. This hybrid situation is ridiculous, unfair, and does not inspire confidence.


The Plashing Vole said...

The decision to make them voluntary is just a slow-motion, face-saving way of cancelling them. I'm agin' 'em. Sinister and unnecessary.

Vespasian6979 said...

The levels of support are much more pro than anti still - have a look at this independent polling site to compare the results.

I think gov has made a tough decision here. They think there are significant benefits in people having a modern, secure method of personal identification both to individuals and to the administration of public services. Something which is both more secure and more convenient than things like national insurance numbers or utility bills, and it's going to offer it up to people if they want to take advantage of it.

There is a significant and very vocal minority of people out there who hate them for even considering this route, and have given them hell in the media for it, but this thing isn't going away. The first cards will be issued later this year in Manchester, and then offered to anyone in the whole North West early next year. That's five million plus people. I'll be the first to say bin it if no one buys one, but I think we should let the people decide. Don't want one? No one's forcing you. Want one? That'll be £30 please.

Sue's Blog said...

Vespasian: Thanks for the link to the independent polling site.

Vole: Difficult to say how things will turn out, only time will tell.

Richard Brennan said...

Vespasian6979, I was wondering if you could clarify why the Home Office website says that "The initial cost of an identity card will be £30". Does this mean that the cost will rise later on, or that people will need to pay to update details?