ID Cards

19 October 2005

Boris Johnson MP condemns Government’s ID Card scheme

Boris Johnson MP, commenting on yesterday’s vote in the Commons in favour of the Government’s ID Card Bill, has denounced the scheme as a costly and illiberal mistake:

“It is perfectly obvious that the Government intends these ID Cards to one day be made compulsory. I want to make it clear that I will in no circumstances carry one and even were I compelled to do so, I would take it out and destroy it on the spot were I ever asked to produce it. It is a plastic poll tax that will do nothing to assist the struggle against terrorists and will hugely expand the powers of the state over the individual”.

The Bill, which passed by a majority of just 25 votes, will now go to the Lords where it is expected to face further stiff opposition.

Oliver James Dommett
Parliamentary Researcher to Boris Johnson MP
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA

tel: 0207 219 8192
fax: 0207 219 1885

30 thoughts on “ID Cards”

  1. Boris on ID Cards.

    Boris Johnson has a statement out on ID Cards. It is perfectly obvious that the Government intends these ID Cards to one day be made compulsory. I want to make it clear that I will in no circumstances carry one

  2. Plastic Poll Tax

    A quote from British MP Boris Johnson on his weblog, 19 October 2005
    It is perfectly obvious that the Government intends these ID Cards to one day be made compulsory. I want to make it clear that I will in no circumstances carry one and even were I compel

  3. Tories, Europe, ID Cards

    The Tories have a big opportunity ahead if Labour press on with the ID card agenda – possibly their biggest illiberal own-goal after the war (which had too much support to be really damaging for them). Nice to see Boris Johnson eloquently stating his…

  4. Microsoft, one of the bidders for the contract to produce the ID card database, has expressed serious concern over the proposals to centralise IDs.

    It will be a honeypot to every hacker on the planet…and there is NO such thing as a totally secure database. Furthermore, any person whose identity is compromised by this will have absolutely no chance of getting it put right; They can’t, after all, grow different fingerprints or retinas.

    This government is out of control, and seems to comprise almost entirely of idiots.

    Heaven help us all.



  5. Oh, and we are to assured by our government that the details they hold will not be misused. Of course, they haven’t told the truth on anything yet – so I don’t tend to believe them this time.

    Hitler had an alternative use for a similar device. Martin Niemoller, a survivor of the concentration camps, wrote this:

    First they came for the Jews
    and I did not speak out
    because I was not a Jew.
    Then they came for the Communists
    and I did not speak out
    because I was not a Communist.
    Then they came for the trade unionists
    and I did not speak out
    because I was not a trade unionist.
    Then they came for me
    and there was no one left
    to speak out for me.

    -Pastor Martin Niem

  6. Well said Boris and right-on Psi.

    To use their methods against them – surely the state compelling me to undergo retina scanning is violating my human rights? Why should I have to undergo such a precedure merely to continue living freely in my own country?

    Boris…I, too, hereby announce my complete refusal to play ball with this ID card nonsense.

    F R E E D O M !!!!!

  7. If a case were made that a plastic ID card would help significantly to contain terrorism and other crimes then we should listen to said case. If the government was really convinced of the case then it would be failing in its duty if it did not propose it and have a free vote. Open societies always have some authoritarian framework – it’s called the law. An open society may go further in developing that framework, thus curtailing civil liberties but as it does so to avoid one danger – e.g. terrorism or crime – then it puts itself into moral peril, which can lead to real injustice’s. Risk assessment has to be done in the real world.

    I am not against ID cards in principle. However I don’t think the case has been made. On the contrary I suspect that after years of making the police’s job more difficult by extending the civil liberties of criminals and others to right liberties, the government thinks that the only way it can ‘get back again’ is by gratuitous authoritarianism. I think Macarnie has made this case more eloquently elsewhere.

    Yesterday I read in the paper that a youth has been given 200 hours community service for wearing a T shirt with a picture of a nun in a rude position. Such a T shirt is distasteful but this lies in the space of things that have to be determined by responsibility, common decency and respect for others. It cannot be legislated. Banning offensive T-shirts isn’t a constructive zero tolerance approach – it’s being seen to be doing something.

    Having said that folks, watch out for new friends! We will find the SWP (Don’t mention the gays tendency), the Communist Party (North Korea is quite fun) and various Islamacist outfits (Allah is merciful to those that show no mercy to Jews and Christians) suddenly coming over all libertarian.

    As I have said elsewhere I supported and continue to support the intervention in Iraq. In the present circumstances ID cards will not help us defend ourselves nor will they do anything to assist our objectives in Iraq.

    (Warning – as a Jedi if I see any of you lot with a T-shirt taking the whatsit out of my order prepare for community service. I would say may the force be with you but they are all back at the station on race awareness courses, ticking boxes and guarding dangerous old ladies that don’t pay all their community tax)

  8. ID cards MAY stop terrorism…but only if we can convince terrorists to state such under the “occupation” section.

    Besides, as “anti-terror” laws are now being used to manhandle octagenarian people who say “nonsense” to a minister (not to mention the hundreds of other arrests made at the labour pary lectures under the same laws….oh, yes, the media barely HAS mentioned it!!), ANYONE who doesn’t fully back the government is considered a terrorist. (Ah, that’ll be why the media barely mentioned it….!)


    When do i get my orange jump suit and a free flight to the caribbean, then?

  9. I announce now that I will willingly carry an ID card, and may be very grateful to have a reminder of who I am, as I am likely to be in my late 90s by the time the project is complete.

  10. Psimon

    Very witty in its way but do you really believe that the media
    is in the hands of the government? Or that you are going to Cuba in an orange jumpsuit?
    Good street theatre on the web but not really much to do with the
    complex threat to liberty and an open society.

  11. Look Boris I like you a lot but I couldn’t let the comments about the possible closure of Witney Community Hospital or others go without a comment. My elderly mother has just transfered back from there to the JR for (another)hip operation and as far as I am concerned the quicker its closed the better! Official comlplaints are pending!


    Philip Wright

  12. Hear, hear, Boris! I hope that the Lords will throw it out without much debate. It’s a pointless exercise in governmental control. Does Labour think that we, the electorate, are stupid? Almost everyone can see right through this government. Lords and Public Servants, you are there to do our bidding. So, bid this idea farewell!

  13. I have already written a lot about this and I don’t want to go over old ground. So far I have read nothing from the government side that indicates an understanding of the IT problems involved. I doubt much whether any of the ministers have the first idea about the technicalities involved.

    On the other hand, those opposing ID cards are also getting it wrong by focussing on the cards rather than the database. It’s the latter which is the problem, security-wise, civil liberties-wise. Use of biometrics is now inevitable due to their adoption abroad but I don’t see this as a problem.

    Boris tells us he will destroy the card rather than be ordered to produce it on the street, but is he going to do the same thing with his new ID card-inclusive passport?

  14. Simon is completely right. The databases are the problem, plus the fact that the government is effectively licensing continued existence.

    I have lived in countries with ID cards and no friend who carried one ever bothered to update it. Typically they had the ones issued when they were 18 with unrecognisable pictures and the address where they were living at the time. These would be produced – to much hilarity – to notaries when signing legal documents and on other official occasions. They served no useful function but they did very little harm – and they did not require physical assault to garner biometrics.

    The cards our Government wants are to be continuously updated (lots of money in fines from simple oversights) and linked to a database which will (a) be the biggest hacker target on the planet and (b) contain biometric data which will be unreliable and require updating as the person ages. An unrecognised card could lead to all kinds of problems, perhaps even 7 shots in the head.

    This is nothing like any ID card scheme in any other country. It – and the database – would reduce us to cattle.

  15. Forgive my failing memory but wasn’t poll tax abandoned because so many people just out and out refused to do it (pay poll tax)? What about an online petition that Boris could present, stating the will of the people (included)? Or I’d be happy to send snail mail to back this up? (though a trip to the postbox is too much for some people)

    A sort of warning for ‘pass all the laws you want but dragging pensioners et al into iris scanning booths just aint on, and turning them away at Heathrow’s gonna go down a storm’. Passing laws is one thing, enforcing them can be quite another.

    Wotcha think Mel?

  16. The reason people associate ID cards with fascism is that if you’re not going to have sinister men in black trenchcoats checking everyone’s card, then what good are they? Like Tom Paine points out, in other democracies which have them, they’re harmless, useless things like a birth cetificate. I don’t believe we’re headed for a fascist dictatorship so despite all the new-fangled biometric technology that’s what they’ll end up being here. It’s a complete waste of money and the Tory party will pick up a lot of votes if they go into the next election promising to scrap the silly idea and spend instead on something that might, like investing in the police force and our customs and immigration services.

  17. Consider yourself seconded

    Boris Johnson: “It is perfectly obvious that the Government intends these ID Cards to one day be made compulsory. I want to make it clear that I will in no circumstances carry one and even were I compelled to do…

  18. Kevin T…

    If we’re NOT headed for a fascist dictatorship, why did so many people get arrested under the prevention of terrorism act whilst PEACEFULLY protesting near the Labour Party Conferlecture?

    and Jack…

    The media isn’t so much in the hands of the Government as vice versa. Didn’t a certain Australian media tycoon admit as such recently? And look what happens at the Beeb if they dare say anything against the government!!

    But no, I admit that the orange jumpsuit and caribbean flight were theatrical…but only in the way that the exaggerated features of a caricature are theatrical – it remains extremely recognisable!!

    It should be fun watching the police try and prosecute ID card protestors…they’ll not be able to identify them!!



  19. And what does Boris have to say about his colleagues who couldn’t even bother to turn up to vote.

    David Davies (Monmouthshire), Quentin Davies (Grantham & Stamford), Roger Gale (North Thanet), Michael Gove (Surrey Heath), Greg Hands (Hammersmith & Fulham), Daniel Kawczynski (Shrewsbury & Atcham), Peter Lilley (Hitchin & Harpenden), Michael Mates (East Hampshire), Richard Ottaway (Croydon South), Nicholas Soames (Mid Sussex), Anthony Steen (Totnes), Gary Streeter (South West Devon), Ian Taylor (Esher & Walton), Edward Vaizey (Wantage), Ann Widdecombe (Maidstone & The Weald), George Young (North West Hampshire)

  20. Psimon – because Labour are heavy handed control freaks. They’re not Nazis and it’s countrproductive to compare them to Nazis and invoke George Orwell as so many people fighting ID cards do. The majority of the public will dismiss this as an overreaction and possibly with it the whole anti-ID card argument. Yes there definitely is an issue of privacy and government intrusion, I agree with that and I’d also like to know how they plan to enforce them. However, we can’t start scaremongering. For one thing, we’re no better than Blair if we do that.

  21. Psimon

    “If we’re NOT headed for a fascist dictatorship, why did so many people get arrested under the prevention of terrorism act whilst PEACEFULLY protesting near the Labour Party Conferlecture?”

    This may be due to

    (a) the report being exaggerated
    (b) the police going beyond their brief on this occasion possibly because they do not know if they are coming or going
    (c) ………………

    So it is perfectly possible for this to happen and not be heading towards a fascist dictatorship. Condemning unwarranted authoritarian spats (and there are warranted ones) is the duty of every liberal. Confusing such tendencies with incipient fascism is to make a serious mistake. By clouding the issue you make it more difficult to clearly show what we are opposing at present. They used to call Mrs. Thatcher a fascist. I can’t say I ever liked the old dear but fascist she was not. Don’t forget that there are people affiliated to real fascist organisations like the SWP, Communist Party and various Islamacist organisations who would like to bring down the government ostensibly on civil liberties issues but in practice to establish their own unique dystopia, where it is redundant to call anything authoritarian.


    I get the Times several times a week and I don’t get the impression that it follows the government line. It’s not packed with the Polly Toynbee types who loath being British, although there are a couple.

    Yes, it is rather sickening to hear the BBC journalists appearing to support the government rather than doing their token bit of not being Islington dinner party goers, more so than the usual PC stuff they serve up. But since they seem to think that being ‘balanced’ means being sycophantic to the governement for five minutes before going back to the usual sycophancy to the PC brigade. No I haven’t suddenly supported the governement on ID cards. I just think that the desperate ‘ant-ism’ that seems to pass for critical thinking in some places is no way to solve the problems we face.

  22. Anyone see MP for Dagenham, Jon Cruddas’s speech in the house today? I found it very interesting. It was in the debate about the Thanmes gateway regeneration project. Jon highlighted the fact that his constituency contains a high proportion of souls that the government doesn’t officially recognise as they are illegal immigrants or migrant workers. How’s that going to work with ID cards then? It comes back to my point of those who are honest English residents pay and those who aren’t don’t have to. To achieve what exactly? An end to terror as long as said terrorist officially exist?

    Put me in the house Boris, I’ll tell git face just how naive and stupid he is in words of one syllable!

    (said jaq, softly and delicately)

  23. I admire Boris for his willingness to state that he’ll never carry a card. I really do. Unfortunately politics is littered with bold statements like this that never came good. I’m very unhappy about ID cards myself (or about the ID database and what it might contain – thank you Simon) but when it comes to the crunch it’ll probably seem pretty stupid going to prison over the issue. Will Boris feel as strongly in five/ten years’ time, when the ID card bill is entrenched in law, and we remind him that he swore he’d never carry one (I take it that means the passport too)?

    This bill is going through whether we like it or not. I’d like to believe that those of us who oppose it will continue to oppose it, and refuse to carry one. I’d like to believe that Boris and other prominent political figures will remain defiant, even unto facing the wrath of the state. But somehow I don’t quite believe it. Not when the next holiday in Tuscany’s in the offing, and the old passport needs renewing.

    I think then (as the government has quite clearly and deviously calculated) we’ll all just think ‘sod it – everyone else has got one so why should I put my neck on the line?’

    Here’s another reason we might not want to resist: because by then the banks and the Inland Revenue will have tied up the connections between identity and personal finance that none of us will be able NOT to carry an ID card: we’ll need them to pay for food.

  24. Mark, I think you underestimate the strength of public opposition to these cards and overestimate the resolution of this government to do things so unpopular that they could lose an election over them. Other than the Iraq war, I’ve not seen an issue for years which gets people so heated than the ID card debate and whereas there’s very little anyone can physically do about a war taking place thousands of miles away, it’s a pretty simple thing to not pay

  25. I agree and that’s all very well until people want to go on holiday. If they link them to the passport, ie. you’ve got to show both to leave the country, then people WILL get them rather than loose thousands on a holiday thay’ve had booked and paid for for months. I don’t know if they will do this but I’ve heard the idea mooted somewhere.

  26. Like everybody here, I am against ID cards and the database, but I haven’t signed the pledge to refuse to register because I am not willing to give up my passport (or my driving licence for that matter).

    We need to consider ways of protesting that are practical and effective.

  27. NEW ‘refuse’ pledge now at:

    The Government have not yet passed the Bill as it stands. Compulsion via the link with the passport or other designated documents is by no means guaranteed to make it into the law (if this Bill does become law).

    On a practical point: if you want to buy yourself 10 years freedom to travel while you continue to oppose this piece of New Labour / Home Office cyber-Stalinism, then renew your passport NOW. As an added bonus, it’ll save you at least �50 – once the ID card scheme kicks in, the price of a passport (with compulsory ID card) will rise to �93+.

    If you’re still not comfortable refusing to register, then for God’s sake support those who will – sign the resist pledge. And join / make a donation to NO2ID, if you haven’t already.

    NO2ID have, from the outset, opposed ID cards and the National Identity Register. If the Government do win the Parliamentary battle (and with a 66 majority, it’s quite telling that they’re cutting this so fine), then there are all sorts of other things that need to be done – for instance, challenging the new law in the courts. The very fact that you _might_ have to ‘give up your passport’ because you refuse to be registered for an ID card is a principle that cuts to the very heart of English (and Scottish) law, Royal prerogative, and a whole host of ECHR/HRA principles.

    Get active locally, and tell people about the Register – and the 50 categories of information stored on it, including the ‘audit trail’ of every time and place you use the card, building up a detailed picture of your public and private life – and the NIRN that, when used by other bodies (e.g. banks, insurance companies, NHS, private health) in *their* databases, will hand Government (and other identity thieves) the ‘key’ to your life.

    We have research, and some polls already show that public opinion drops ANOTHER 20% when people hear about the database.

    When 75% or more of the country is against this, the ‘Poll Tax’ scenario will be a reality. No matter how crafty the Gov’t have tried to be, their plan has one fatal flaw: it requires 43 million British citizens to report to a processing centre, and line up to be photographed, fingerprinted, iris scanned and submit to a detailed biographic interview. Then *pay* for the priviledge!

    I submit that showing the Government NOW (before they’ve even passed the Bill) that there are tens, even hundreds, of thousands who will not comply indicates the millions more out there with whom they will be in conflict, should they proceed. As a form of protest – just considering the media coverage we’ve received on it so far, let alone what the 11,000+ can achieve later on – I consider this to be both practical and effective, and urge you (and Boris!) to join us.

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