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Mick Temple’s Blog

PARTIES OF PRINCIPLE

11-03-2008

What have the Lib Dems got to do with Gordon Brown’s plan to make every citizen carry an ID Card? More than you might think reckons Mick Temple.

You may have missed it – many did – but the LibDems have just held their Spring conference in Liverpool.

Their leader, David Currant-Bun (the love child of David Cameron and a currant bun for those of you who’ve not been paying attention in class), announced that there would be no power-sharing without a root and branch review of the constitution. And that, anticipating a hung parliament, they would maintain ‘equal distance’ between Labour and the Conservatives in order to maximise their bargaining power.

How nice to see a party with principles and prepared to stand by them.

Now back to the real world. We currently have the stupidest government in my lifetime – and there’s plenty of competition. Not only are its ministers the least impressive bunch in recent political history, they are led by a prime minister who has shown that he totally lacks political nous.

After months of indecision and wobbly-jawed dithering, he has finally decided to take a stand on something. His government, he tells us in his monotonous holier-than-thou drone, is committed to introducing ID cards.

Is he mad? Not a single act of terrorism and not a single act of identity fraud will be prevented by the introduction of this illiberal measure.

And if he thinks the Poll Tax riots showed what happens when a government loses its grasp of the popular mood wait until the day it becomes compulsory to carry an identity card. Middle England may not take to the streets – after all, it won’t hit them in their pockets – but millions of Britons will be horrified by this intrusion into our everyday lives.

I wouldn’t trust this lot with the key to my garden shed, let alone the secrets of my financial and genetic make-up. The technology will enable them to track everywhere I go – and I don’t want the state knowing my movements. It is none of their business what I buy, who I see or where I go.

I will never carry an ID card. I will go to prison rather than submit to the dictates of a government who have already themselves proved incapable of protecting our personal data.

You may wonder why I started this blog talking about the LibDems lack of principles. I’ve just put my liberty potentially on the line for a principle. I hope when the crunch comes I stand by mine rather better than Mr Currant-Bun’s party stand by theirs.

Do I hear a knock on the door … ?

(Mick Temple is a Professor of Politics at Staffordshire University).

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