The arguments in favour of the cards were varied and weak, but the most absurd of all must have been that used by the Labour MP Roberta Blackman-Woods. We must have identity cards, she has consistently argued, because administering them will make jobs in her Durham constituency.
And she did not give up after the general election. Here she is, as quoted by the Durham Times from 12 June 2010, writing to her Liberal Democrat opponent in that contest, Carol Woods:
She concluded by calling on Carol to apologise to her and the people of Durham.
“During the election campaign, you accused me, amongst many other things, of scaremongering about your party’s plans to scrap the voluntary ID cards scheme and the impact this would have on jobs in Durham.
“Unfortunately, my fears have proved to be entirely justified as the Tory/Lib Dem Government, in one of its first policy announcements, have said that more than 60 jobs at the Durham Passport Office will be axed.
“Indeed, given that the Government seems intent on also abolishing the next phase of biometric passports, the job losses could end up being even worse.”
Blackman-Woods resembles the Liverpool MP General Tarleton who, on 15 February 1805, told the House:
There are in Liverpool alone above 10,000 persons completely engaged in the slave trade, besides countless numbers affected and benefited by it. I have received instructions from my constituents to oppose Mr Wilberforce's intentions with all my power.The General Tarleton is now in name of an inn near Knaresborough. I doubt anyone will ever go for a pint at The Old Roberta Blackman-Woods.