Thursday, May 11, 2006

Identity cards: All your fears were justified

Harriet Harman has rightly angered a lot of people by suggesting that the National Identity Register could be used to draw up the electoral roll. Here is Phil Booth from quoted in the Guardian:
"To take an identity register which you've said is purely for a very specific set of purposes, and then to turn it into this general purpose register that you use for everything, is a complete and utter betrayal of everything they've said in parliament."
But her idea should not come as a surprise if you read this blog. On 22 June last year I described an exchange in the Commons chamber:

When Clive Betts suggested that one way to ensure the electoral register is accurate would be to link it with the national identity database there were groans from the other side. At which she brightly suggested: "That's the best argument in favour of a national identity card."

In case you have forgotten, Harman was legal officer for the National Council for Civil Liberties (the organisation now called Liberty) between 1978 and 1982.

I often wonder how people who change their beliefs so fundamentally justify it to themselves. What goes on inside their heads? Don't we all try to construct a narrative that makes are decisions principled and consistent?

Another government minister has been busy going back on past undertakings. The BBC reports:

Sharper CCTV images are needed so shots of suspected criminals can be matched to the proposed identity card database, a Home Office minister has said.

Baroness Scotland told the Lords poor quality CCTV currently runs the risk of innocent people being wrongly arrested.

"Digital pictures ... will enable us, particularly when ID cards come in, to identify those who are responsible for very serious crime," she added.

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