I am in a state of rage. It has just gone 7 pm and here I am at Westminster, having somehow got it in my head that now was the time to vote against ID cards on Third Reading, and what do I find but the vote has happened unexpectedly, with no warning, and I have missed my chance.
It was always going to be a forlorn gesture, of course. Because the Tories decided to abstain en masse, and because the poor lobotomised Labour backbenchers were whipped in favour, there was never the slightest hope of stopping the Bill. As it turned out, only a handful of principled Tories stuck up for liberty, and they were duly overwhelmed by the Government.
But I wanted to vote against, because I loathe the idea on principle. I never want to be commanded, by any emanation of the British state, to produce evidence of my identity, when I am doing nothing more than amble down the Queen’s highway, and breathing God’s fresh air. I believe that the state will use the mandatory ID card to store ever more information about us, and I believe that information could be used against the interests of liberty.
Never forget: there was no doubt about the identity of the 9/11 hijackers; the issue was their intentions. Rather than preventing crimes, the ID card will almost certainly become a utensil for the boredom and oppression of the innocent. It certainly doesn’t help in making the police understand whether or not have they been arrested, because a lot of people have been falsely incarcerated in the country.
If you want to understand the case against ID cards, look at the ruling by Lord Justice Goddard, in 1951, when he decided that they were causing resentment and friction between the people and the police.
I am sorry that I missed my chance this evening to register my protest, futile though it would have been. Perhaps more usefully, I intend to keep up the fight in the media (and in places like this) and to ensure that when we have a Tory government, we scrap this expensive, illiberal, intrusive and almost certainly useless measure.