Wednesday, July 01, 2009

It's Still All In Dodgy ID Database

ID cards have bitten the dust in a whisper of lies, as the government clears the decks of controversy on the sinking ship. But only the compulsory plastic goes on the scrap heap. The sinister database, which lies at its heart, is sneaking in through the backdoor.

Determined the poisoned chalice of the home office won't be his graveyard, new home secretary, Alan Johnson, slipped in the scrapping of the compulsory ID card almost as an afterthought.

At a stroke, the government's hugely expensive and highly controversial scheme now joins the doomed Royal Mail sell-off and Trident left in limbo, as the fag-end government throws policies on the back burner in the run up to the election to take off the heat.

A welcome retreat but only half a U-turn here for the man who would be leader of Mandy's Party. The sinister database behind the scheme is left unscathed with moves to use passports to push in the scheme through the backdoor.

Johnson has left himself wide open to attack from Tories, LibDems and civil liberties groups with the most costly and controversial part of the scheme, the national identity database, alive and kicking civil liberties where it hurts most.

The big issue with ID cards was never about the cards themselves, it was the issue of compulsion and the massive database lurking in the background snooping around.

A database which has become a disturbing feature of the Big Brother state and the unrelenting quest for control over the individual.

Plans to make the cards compulsory have been dropped. Plans to foist the cards on airside workers and some pilots have been scrapped in the face of threatened industrial action.

The lame excuse that the cards would be a powerful weapon in the fight against terrorism? Forget it - that was a "mistake" anyway, blurted out a beaming Johnson.

But it's business as usual for the £5 billion project. Now entirely voluntary and a complete waste of taxpayers cash.

The Tories say they will kill off the cards and delete the database.

For all Johnson's politicking trying to win over support, he’s offered nothing to grass roots members who hate his guts as a Blair prop.

But what he has offered on a plate is a big stick for the Tories to beat the boys from the New Labour brand and renewed vigour for campaigners fighting for an end to the disgrace of the database.

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