iamme
See the thing about democracy as I understand it is it is supposed to be the most representative of the systems, after all as Big John pointed out, the great Aristotle said of the system:

“In a democracy the poor will have more power than the rich, because there are more of them, and the will of the majority is supreme.”

Democracy is defined as “government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system.”

So just where is the power these days, is it in the hands of the people or is it merely in the hands of those elected to represent them. Democracy cannot be a question of mob rule, just because a group of people think something does not make it necessarily democratic. However if a sizeable group object to the plans of their representatives it will substantially undermine the mandate of the representative if they are not seen to listen. It will also decrease the confidence in that representative from others who may not agree with the objections of the group but feel that the representative’s failure to handle them correctly may signify in ill-suiting to the job.

One could ask how many people objecting constitutes representative of the will of the people, on the March 31st 1990 250,000 gathered in what is known as the Poll Tax riot or Battle of Trafalgar, in oposition to the punitive Community Charge, championed by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. This demonstration was seen as widely representative of public opinion and led to the internal Conservative coup that led to the resignation of Thatcher. [Indeed outside the Conservative cabinet you’d be hard-pressed to find any supporters of the poll tax save for the odd super rich person living in a huge house who had suddenly found that their large rates bill had been cut massively.]

Contrast this with the demonstration on 15th February 2003 when nearly 2 million marched in London, the largest demonstration in this country by a factor of at least 3, to protest against the proposed war in Iraq and it made no difference to government policy in the short-term. What effect it had in the long-term is more difficult to calculate. I draw comfort from the words of a Professor of Chemistry from the University of Cairo who said that for them in Cairo the demonstrations across the Western World signified that there was no polarised Christian West against an Islamic East, this was governmental games and the populations across the world were showing their resistance to the neo-imperialism.

So it is in this context that my opposition, and that of so many others, to the introduction of ID cards must be seen. Now I am aware there are ID cards in many countries, Germany has the Personalausweis and France the Carte d’Identité and they have had for years. It isn’t so much the card itself but the sort of information that is going to be contained on it and the very questionable reasons being given to justify it. The argument that ID cards will stop terrorism simply doesn’t add up at all, the July 7th bombers were all British citizens and would have been fully entitled to carry ID cards had there been such a scheme. However as a means to generate money (the mandatory ID cards are suspected to cost each individual somewhere in the region of £100) and to limit access to the Welfare State and the NHS…

This is just the another wagon in the runaway train of New Labour’s draconian home legislation. We are, according to them, all the more safer for the cameras watching and tracking our every move, and ID cards are their extention of this. The Conservatives are opposed to it, probably because they want the credit for bringing in such a scheme themselves, they are after all not known for the libertarian nature of their policies.

I recently signed a petition on the No 10 Downing St. website, well, you have to at least show willing don’t you?! This is the response I received:

E-petition: Response from the Prime Minister

The e-petition to “scrap the proposed introduction of ID cards” has now closed. The petition stated that “The introduction of ID cards will not prevent terrorism or crime, as is claimed. It will be yet another indirect tax on all law-abiding citizens of the UK”. This is a response from the Prime Minister, Tony Blair.

  • The petition calling for the Government to abandon plans for a National ID Scheme attracted almost 28,000 signatures – one of the largest responses since this e-petition service was set up. So I thought I would reply personally to those who signed up, to explain why the Government believes National ID cards, and the National Identity Register needed to make them effective, will help make Britain a safer place.
  • The petition disputes the idea that ID cards will help reduce crime or terrorism. While I certainly accept that ID cards will not prevent all terrorist outrages or crime, I believe they will make an important contribution to making our borders more secure, countering fraud, and tackling international crime and terrorism. More importantly, this is also what our security services – who have the task of protecting this country – believe.
  • So I would like to explain why I think it would be foolish to ignore the opportunity to use biometrics such as fingerprints to secure our identities. I would also like to discuss some of the claims about costs – particularly the way the cost of an ID card is often inflated by including in estimates the cost of a biometric passport which, it seems certain, all those who want to travel abroad will soon need.
  • In contrast to these exaggerated figures, the real benefits for our country and its citizens from ID cards and the National Identity Register, which will contain less information on individuals than the data collected by the average store card, should be delivered for a cost of around £3 a year over its ten-year life.
  • But first, it’s important to set out why we need to do more to secure our identities and how I believe ID cards will help. We live in a world in which people, money and information are more mobile than ever before. Terrorists and international criminal gangs increasingly exploit this to move undetected across borders and to disappear within countries. Terrorists routinely use multiple identities – up to 50 at a time. Indeed this is an essential part of the way they operate and is specifically taught at Al-Qaeda training camps. One in four criminals also uses a false identity. ID cards which contain biometric recognition details and which are linked to a National Identity Register will make this much more difficult.
  • Secure identities will also help us counter the fast-growing problem of identity fraud. This already costs £1.7 billion annually. There is no doubt that building yourself a new and false identity is all too easy at the moment. Forging an ID card and matching biometric record will be much harder.
  • I also believe that the National Identity Register will help police bring those guilty of serious crimes to justice. They will be able, for example, to compare the fingerprints found at the scene of some 900,000 unsolved crimes against the information held on the register. Another benefit from biometric technology will be to improve the flow of information between countries on the identity of offenders.
  • The National Identity Register will also help improve protection for the vulnerable, enabling more effective and quicker checks on those seeking to work, for example, with children. It should make it much more difficult, as has happened tragically in the past, for people to slip through the net.
  • Proper identity management and ID cards also have an important role to play in preventing illegal immigration and illegal working. The effectiveness on the new biometric technology is, in fact, already being seen. In trials using this technology on visa applications at just nine overseas posts, our officials have already uncovered 1,400 people trying illegally to get back into the UK.
  • Nor is Britain alone in believing that biometrics offer a massive opportunity to secure our identities. Firms across the world are already using fingerprint or iris recognition for their staff. France, Italy and Spain are among other European countries already planning to add biometrics to their ID cards. Over 50 countries across the world are developing biometric passports, and all EU countries are proposing to include fingerprint biometrics on their passports. The introduction in 2006 of British e-passports incorporating facial image biometrics has meant that British passport holders can continue to visit the United States without a visa. What the National Identity Scheme does is take this opportunity to ensure we maximise the benefits to the UK.
  • These then are the ways I believe ID cards can help cut crime and terrorism. I recognise that these arguments will not convince those who oppose a National Identity Scheme on civil liberty grounds. They will, I hope, be reassured by the strict safeguards now in place on the data held on the register and the right for each individual to check it. But I hope it might make those who believe ID cards will be ineffective reconsider their opposition.
  • If national ID cards do help us counter crime and terrorism, it is, of course, the law-abiding majority who will benefit and whose own liberties will be protected. This helps explain why, according to the recent authoritative Social Attitudes survey, the majority of people favour compulsory ID cards.
  • I am also convinced that there will also be other positive benefits. A national ID card system, for example, will prevent the need, as now, to take a whole range of documents to establish our identity. Over time, they will also help improve access to services.
  • The petition also talks about cost. It is true that individuals will have to pay a fee to meet the cost of their ID card in the same way, for example, as they now do for their passports. But I simply don’t recognise most claims of the cost of ID cards. In many cases, these estimates deliberately exaggerate the cost of ID cards by adding in the cost of biometric passports. This is both unfair and inaccurate.
  • As I have said, it is clear that if we want to travel abroad, we will soon have no choice but to have a biometric passport. We estimate that the cost of biometric passports will account for 70% of the cost of the combined passports/id cards. The additional cost of the ID cards is expected to be less than £30 or £3 a year for their 10-year lifespan. Our aim is to ensure we also make the most of the benefits these biometric advances bring within our borders and in our everyday lives.
  • Yours sincerely,

    Tony Blair

correctid

So, ok, let’s look at this bit by bit:


The petition disputes the idea that ID cards will help reduce crime or terrorism. While I certainly accept that ID cards will not prevent all terrorist outrages or crime, I believe they will make an important contribution to making our borders more secure, countering fraud, and tackling international crime and terrorism. More importantly, this is also what our security services – who have the task of protecting this country – believe.

Sorry, what contribution would that be. In fact wouldn’t it be more likely simply to fit into the forgers plans in the same way that passports do? Yes it may mean that people wanting forged documents have one more thing to have to obtain but this hardly represents an insurmountable problem. So it may be that ID cards will prevent small time stuff I see no specific reason why international crime will be affected. As for the security services, yes well would one really expect them to think any difference, they too are hardly known for their committment to human rights.


In contrast to these exaggerated figures, the real benefits for our country and its citizens from ID cards and the National Identity Register, which will contain less information on individuals than the data collected by the average store card, should be delivered for a cost of around £3 a year over its ten-year life.

So if they do not contain such information what can be the possible use of them? In fact the truth is these cards will contain a great deal more than a storecard or a bank card, the government Indentity Cards Act 2006 document can be found here


But first, it’s important to set out why we need to do more to secure our identities and how I believe ID cards will help. We live in a world in which people, money and information are more mobile than ever before. Terrorists and international criminal gangs increasingly exploit this to move undetected across borders and to disappear within countries. Terrorists routinely use multiple identities – up to 50 at a time. Indeed this is an essential part of the way they operate and is specifically taught at Al-Qaeda training camps. One in four criminals also uses a false identity. ID cards which contain biometric recognition details and which are linked to a National Identity Register will make this much more difficult.

Sorry this is just horseshit, if this were the case then we would not know the identities of the September the 11th, Madrid Train and London Underground bombings, the fact is that the attacks were well-co-ordinated but not secret after the event, quite the contrary the whole point of the way Al Qaeda work is to make the most of their publicity machine. As already said in the case of the London bombers there would have been no impediment to them having ID cards whatsoever. So where has this arbitrary figure of 50 identities at a time come from and who is to say these are all British ones even if the figure is kosher, or is this another 45 minute claim?

Secure identities will also help us counter the fast-growing problem of identity fraud. This already costs £1.7 billion annually. There is no doubt that building yourself a new and false identity is all too easy at the moment. Forging an ID card and matching biometric record will be much harder.

So people may chose to forge a different identity of a nationality that is entitled to be here, since there are many other EU nations that do not have biometric records and ID cards. Or will all these countries be required to sign up for this if so does this not call into question their original identity documentation and proceedures? I thought measures like chip and pin on cards and the abolition of cheques and anything involving a signature was supposed to stop this sort of fraud. Surely it is for the banks and financial institutions to put in place the proceedures to stop the fraud rather than taxpayers having to pay for it themselves?


I also believe that the National Identity Register will help police bring those guilty of serious crimes to justice. They will be able, for example, to compare the fingerprints found at the scene of some 900,000 unsolved crimes against the information held on the register. Another benefit from biometric technology will be to improve the flow of information between countries on the identity of offenders.

So in fact this suggests that already there are plans to run everyone’s data through criminal databases to check against unsolved crimes, the Police must be over the moon, a chance to fit up a whole load more people! You’d need to be bloody sure that the fingerprint data etc. cannot be forged wouldn’t you, otherwise it is in fact merely a way for crimes to simply look as if they have been solved. As for the information between countries, this presupposes that countries will have their own database with which to compare doesn’t it?


The National Identity Register will also help improve protection for the vulnerable, enabling more effective and quicker checks on those seeking to work, for example, with children. It should make it much more difficult, as has happened tragically in the past, for people to slip through the net.

There is already a register of people who should not be allowed to work with children, the Sex Offenders Register, it exists with the details of all those convicted of crimes that should prevent them from being in positions with the vulnerable and this system has been something of a shambles, so what about another system will make this any easier?


Proper identity management and ID cards also have an important role to play in preventing illegal immigration and illegal working. The effectiveness on the new biometric technology is, in fact, already being seen. In trials using this technology on visa applications at just nine overseas posts, our officials have already uncovered 1,400 people trying illegally to get back into the UK.

But where is the data showing the control study as to how many of these applications would have been stopped by existing checks? So realistically this is, as suspected, simply being used as a bolster Fortress Europe approach and has the handy advantage of keeping the existing homeland population under the cosh.


Nor is Britain alone in believing that biometrics offer a massive opportunity to secure our identities. Firms across the world are already using fingerprint or iris recognition for their staff. France, Italy and Spain are among other European countries already planning to add biometrics to their ID cards. Over 50 countries across the world are developing biometric passports, and all EU countries are proposing to include fingerprint biometrics on their passports. The introduction in 2006 of British e-passports incorporating facial image biometrics has meant that British passport holders can continue to visit the United States without a visa. What the National Identity Scheme does is take this opportunity to ensure we maximise the benefits to the UK.

Firms using something as a passkey and a state structure based around the same thing is a very different prospect entirely. Many other countries are considering adding biometrics because the US is demanding it and much of the Western World feels compelled to cow-tow to it. Firms use this sort of technology to restrict access, just as really this is what the government intend to do here.

These then are the ways I believe ID cards can help cut crime and terrorism. I recognise that these arguments will not convince those who oppose a National Identity Scheme on civil liberty grounds. They will, I hope, be reassured by the strict safeguards now in place on the data held on the register and the right for each individual to check it. But I hope it might make those who believe ID cards will be ineffective reconsider their opposition.

So in fact no argument is being offered to counteract the civil liberties concerns, how can people be reassured by systems which are not even in place yet? As for the effectiveness argument I still fail to see that adequate points have been made to back this up.

If national ID cards do help us counter crime and terrorism, it is, of course, the law-abiding majority who will benefit and whose own liberties will be protected. This helps explain why, according to the recent authoritative Social Attitudes survey, the majority of people favour compulsory ID cards.

Ah, the classic ‘the innocent have nothing to fear’ this of course presumes you will always stay the correct side of guilty and this becomes a rather subjective state of affairs if you fall into the current bete noir group as the Irish in the 70s and 80s, the Muslims are today and the black community has been since the Windrush arrived. I don’t know about authoritative Social Attitudes survey, I’d never heard of it, and I was not at all aware that the majority was in favour of ID cards, I have heard few people in favour and generally they have been those without all the information at their disposal and under the misapprehension that the service was voluntary, or that the biometric data was foolproof, or that you would have access to your information and to change it if incorrect none of which of course is true.

I am also convinced that there will also be other positive benefits. A national ID card system, for example, will prevent the need, as now, to take a whole range of documents to establish our identity. Over time, they will also help improve access to services.

I am not aware of many situations where we do need to provide a myriad assortment of documentation. The Driving Licence is a photo form of ID and this is not considered sufficient for all circumstances so I see no evidence that the ID card will suddenly be taken for all purposes by institutions such as the banks.

The petition also talks about cost. It is true that individuals will have to pay a fee to meet the cost of their ID card in the same way, for example, as they now do for their passports. But I simply don’t recognise most claims of the cost of ID cards. In many cases, these estimates deliberately exaggerate the cost of ID cards by adding in the cost of biometric passports. This is both unfair and inaccurate.

Does this mean the biometric passports will be free? No, so in fact to factor that cost in is quite proper, to prove one’s identity there will be one form for inland and one form for abroad, thus the cost is amalgamated.

As I have said, it is clear that if we want to travel abroad, we will soon have no choice but to have a biometric passport. We estimate that the cost of biometric passports will account for 70% of the cost of the combined passports/id cards. The additional cost of the ID cards is expected to be less than £30 or £3 a year for their 10-year lifespan. Our aim is to ensure we also make the most of the benefits these biometric advances bring within our borders and in our everyday lives.

Why will we have no choice? Is it merely that the Americans will not allow us any choice. I have not seen any evidence that the British population are insisting of their goverment that biometric passports are used, and surely it is to them that the British government are responsible and draw their remit?

Hahahahahaha, sorry, stupid of me!

Song Of The Day ~The Wedding Present – Brassneck

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