15 February 2009

Ewing's Paper Cut

Interesting (but hardly unanticipated) reports today that Fergus Ewing, the Scottish Government's Minister for "Community Safety" has gotten around to writing a rude letter to a Labour Under-Minister, advising her where the UK government can stick their proposed ID card scheme (I gather there is some sort of technique for avoiding unsightly paper cuts in the process.)

As one of the Supreme Judge of the World's fallen angels notes elsewhere, it is gratifying to see that the SNP government is taking an appropriately hostile stance on this issue. The Maximum Eck and his minimal chums are certainly not beyond justified reproach. However, its gratifying to see that the SNP are resisting the wholesale urge to share in the bouts cyclical enthusiasm which the Labour Party entertains for footering about in other people's lives.

One concerning undercurrent in all of this is the tenor of the Minister's paper cut:
"Given the current financial climate, the UK Government should have better uses for the vast sums of money being spent on this scheme, which presents an unacceptable threat to citizens' privacy and civil liberties, with little tangible evidence to suggest it will do anything to safeguard against crime and terrorism.

"This money could and should be used to pay for much more worthy causes like more teachers, nurses or police officers or more schools and hospitals."

"All citizens, including Scots, will be expected to fork out for a card and to enrol on the national identity register when this becomes compulsory in 2012. The initial application fee has been fixed at £30 and that is supposedly a cut-price offer to entice citizens to get one before they become compulsory. How much they will cost from 2012 is anyone's guess."

While the whack of cash required to universally slap our phizogs to paper is certainly a point agin the ID scheme, this surely is a profoundly contingent point. Namely, that if economic circumstances altered, or some cheap wheeze was found to cheapen the scheme - the money issue could, if not entirely evaporate - lose much of its persuasive power.

Which brings us to the question: why does Mr Ewing oppose these ID cards? Civil liberties are mentioned certainly, albeit after the cash question. So whence the principled basis for SNP opposition? Given the absence of a clearly demarcated ideology underpinning the Scottish National Party, it is tempting to construe much of their enthusiasm for liberties as motivated primarily oppositionally, without a sturdy basis in principle. The point is moot, of course, whether they would be against ID cards if the representatives of the Labour Party were not holed up in Downing Street. On the available evidence, however, I retain little doubting thoughts on that score.

Nevertheless, Ewing is quite right. The ID card notion will struggle to look convincing on balance sheet. In principle, it is an odious and unnecessary expansion of bureaucratic power. The quicker we see the back of it the better.

1 comment :

  1. Good on Fergus, the ID card scam i a waste of money and is Labours attempt at manipulating our freedoms. They can stick the ID cards up Gordons backside.