Liberty pamphlet ID cards

Liberty pamphlet ID cards

ID Cards: Arguments Against

Indarjit Singh

Editor — Sikh Messenger "Thought for the Day" 27th September 2001

The proposal that we all carry identity cards will require an unusual degree of honesty if it is to succeed in reducing crime and terrorist activity. As a Sikh, I've got nothing against being identified for who or what we are. I've often thought it would be an excellent idea if we went a bit further and everyone wore name badges, to save me the embarrassment of forgetting names, particularly when I meet someone away from their normal location.

Seriously, identity cards would mildly inconvenience the majority, but I doubt if they would deter criminals or terrorists, whose way of life depends on falsification. Identity cards, would however, place additional pressure on wouldApe asylum seekers, and I fear that this may he their main purpose. The question is, is it worth it? Is this what we Ivan)/ want?

Just as a person's health is measured by the movement of mercury in a thermometer, the prevalence of persecution and starvation, are measured by the number of refugees forced to flee their homes. Today's record swell of people enduring appalling conditions and near starvation in refugee camps, or seeking entry to more affluent parts of the world, should act as a spur for urgent international effort to reduce their suffering.

Guru Nanak saw such misery when he once went to a nearby town to invest sonic money on behalf of his father. He saw some poor and starving people at the roadside shivering in the winter cold. It was clear that they hadn't eaten for days. The Guru decided to spend his money on food and blankets and, in reply to his father's wrath, declared that there was no better investment.

It's this generosity of spirit that should influence our attitude to refugees. Sadly the opposite is happening. In the more affluent

parts of the world there is a perverse, battening down of hatches and ever tightening controls, that contrasts with the generosity of poorer lands.

While Australia, a vast and affluent country, defies maritime law in denying entry to a few score impoverished souls, Pakistan - a country beset with political and economic problems doesn't go around asking its 2 million Afghan refugees if they are economic or political migrants. It simply invited them to share in its poverty. Instead of identity cards, we should be looking to a similar generosity of spirit:

Copyright: BBC Radio 4 Today Programme

Jaffer Clarke

Joint Deputy Leader, Muslim Parliament of Great Britain. 

As citizens of Britain, Muslims would find it a clear violation of their civil rights if identity cards are introduced to combat terrorism.

Muslims are the same as everyone else in that they value freedom of expression, freedom of movement and the freedom that all British people enjoy to walk around without identification. It appears to Muslims that it is an idea going back to the Second World War. At that time the demand for "papers" would bring fear into the minds of anybody who was approached to produce identification documents and prove who they were.

It is like a totalitarian state where the next step would be to want to read our letters, listen to individuals' phone calls and intercept emails. Not only that, but they would wish to edit the content of these communications as well and perhaps detain people if they did not adhere to a certain post-modern, post-liberal, capitalist, Disneyworld view of the moment. Dissent would disappear and liberalism would take a further blow. Muslims who may wish to express the mildest of dissent with US policies at the moment would be silenced. The effect in our community would be to


ID Cards: Arguments Against

dampen down and quieten normally vocal groups who have confidence to express their views.

In any event there is sufficient identification in place at the moment. Cameras are everywhere. If one wishes to drive into the city centre there will be gantries on which cameras are placed to capture vehicle numberplates and facilitate the introduction of congestion charging. CCTV cameras follow citizens wherever they go -- be it subways, malls, pedestrian precincts, shops, offices or markets. There are driving licences with photo I D. There are computerised lists of ordinary individuals on voting registers, deed polls, birth marriage and death licences, TV licences, and even, yes, fishing licences.

For Muslim citizens who feel there is not sufficient liberty anyway, this move will come as a threat. No one denies that rigorous steps must be taken against terrorism but the suggestion that identity cards should he carried by all citizens is a threat to our liberty.

Simon Hughes MP

Liberal Democrat Spokesman. on Home Affairs 

The burden is on those who support ID cards to make the case. And we should only accept them if the arguments in favour are overwhelming — and if they meet the interests of the citizen and not just of the state.

Liberals and Liberal Democrats have never yet been persuaded. And we should beware of the backdrop of international terrorism providing a cover for a fundamental shift in state power which is privately justified by civil servants for other purposes — and as easier identification for overstaying asylum seekers.

The arguments against include the practical. Why will ID cards not be any less able to be forged than passports and driving licenses and cheque cards? Will they he able to change easily when one's personal information changes? What would make terrorists be

bound to carry them — or stop being terrorists just because they carry them? But perhaps most importantly — who will be expected to use them? If UK citizens only, then what's the point? There arc millions of other people

here every day perfectly lawfully who would not be covered. Why could UK citizens not claim to be one of these? If every lawful visitor had to have one, imagine the process at every airport and seaport every day. Do we really want this sort of additional immigration process? Is it practical? Is it legal under European law?


Surely if we are trying to maximise European-wide integration, then we should not be legislating for a separate UK form of identity document just at the time that logic suggests harmonising towards a European one.

Apart from the natural suspicions of people in minority communities and people who have previously been in trouble that they will be picked on, the rest of us have many questions, objections and complications.

The simple idea of an ID card is not nearly so simple after all.

And who will have access to all this new information anyway? We should be told.

Stephen Pollard

Senior fellow at Civitas, the Institute for the Study of Civil Society

There is a golden rule of policy making: legislate in haste, repent at leisure. The `something must be done' school can, very occasionally, hit upon a worthwhile course of action. More often, however, its measures are at best useless, and at worse counter­productive.

The current clamour for ID cards falls precisely into this category. Sometime liberal democracies have to take illiberal measures to protect themselves. On this basis there might,