Firstly, if readers are not already aware, the intense (often behind the scenes, through the summer campaign) to stop the Civil Contingencies Bill failed, in that, on the 18th November, the Blair Government gained Royal Assent for this enabling legislation at the end of 2004.
The Lords could have stopped the Bill
Such legislation is indicative of the stripping away of democratic rights and civil liberties at a worldwide level: for instance, check out about the Patriot Acts in the US and legislation being enacted across the world – tightening up on security, surveillance and with its associated identity bureaucracy – all in the name of streamlining our safety from terrorists and blocking illegals, criminals, social security fraud. You name it and governments round the world are busy pushing this type of legislation as the cure which amounts to seriously expensive and all pervasive social control of the innocent majority.
We’ve watched the House of Lords’ climb down, they allowed the Civil Contingencies Bill to go through. As well as the lack of media coverage: the Bill was seriously unstarred in the Lords’ proceedings as it had conveniently got timetabled against the Hunting With Dogs Bill and the equally well covered “Smacking Bill” as it tracked its way through Parliamentary debating time. The government was in a hurry to get the Civil Contingencies Bill passed before the end of the parliamentary session. The Lords could have stopped the Bill by standing firm and insisting upon one practical amendment by extending the debate for four more hours. So the British public were let down in the Commons and the Lords – grandiose speeches amounted to nothing in both their Parliamentary Houses. Perhaps the Lords’ inaction could be described as not so much a climbdown but more like a mass cave in, as the Lords fizzled out like damp squibs with only just enough spark left in the name of liberty to muster an AWOL-type vote of only 150 (mostly Conservative Lords) managing to struggle to the division lobby to vote against the Bill – and so Blair got his way with his “Enabling Act”. Incidentally this was half the number of Lords who voted on the Hunting With Dogs Bill.
H0wever, we now have before us on the table the (disgraced) Blunkett-trumpeted piece of legislation for ID Cards in the UK and its associated National Identity Register. It is now underway through Parliament. Do not believe the Government-spun polls that the public wants ID Cards – oh really – people want to give money to Blair? So, join the campaign to counter the poor public’s mumbled mantras such as, “If you’ve got nothing to hide …” Read on further for background information and what to do.
AN ACTIVE UK CAMPAIGN AGAINST ID CARDS
The campaign against ID Cards principally led by the NO2ID and its alliance of various political groups both political (e.g. Green Party, Liberal Democrat Party, Plaid Cymru, Scottish Socialist Party, UKIP) together with an eclectic range of non-political campaign groups (well seasoned and not so well known) is well under way. For success though, it does require effort, organisation and commitment by ordinary people to network this information and to write letters now and into the spring. The only success – the ultimate goal – is to stop the ID Bill.
Writing letters is effective. It’s armchair campaigning. It can even be social (see below for ideas) and it’s not expensive. Commitment is needed NOW as the ID Cards Bill has its Second Reading in the House of Commons in January 2005. With the Government’s huge majority, as expected it was passed. Interestingly with the upcoming general election being touted, some might think that any progress in the ID Bill would definitely stop it in its tracks and it would have to completely restart its progression after the election. Think again please:
A further piece of news is that even with an expected election this year, it is possible that some bills might just be “frozen” during the election period and then just continue their progress by being carried over after the election! You can see how convenient this procedure can be. So don’t be fooled by the illusion of a slowdown or starting at the beginning again – just a relentless eroding of our liberties. It is possible that the ID Cards Bill could be in this category – just carried over – how convenient! See website: http://www.parliament.uk/works/newproc.cfm#newassent
” …in certain circumstances, public bills may be ‘carried-over’ from one session to the next, in the same way that private and hybrid bills may be. The first public bill to be treated in this way was the Financial Services and Markets Bill 1998/99. Changes to standing orders in the 2002-03 parliamentary session allow for more public bills to be carried over in this way (in particular, those which have been subject to pre-legislative scrutiny in either House).”
If there were to be no election to slow things down, this type of Bill could be expected to be law in say 6 months – yes, you read that correctly – THIS YEAR – 2005.
So with this Bill being one of Blair’s favourites, and in general outline, certainly not opposed by Michael Howard (Leader of the Conservative Opposition), and with only some rebels (at the moment) from within the two major parties, together with Lib Dems who are against the Bill. There’s a very steep hill to climb. We have to climb that hill – we have to act now or the ID Bill will be another piece of legislation that helps plaster the cage of Prison Britain – this year. Another Government Act of vandal-like attack on our liberties will have entered the system.
ID Cards certainly date back to 2000
There are of course strategies to follow, people, personalities, journalists and politicians to lobby, and media attention to arouse. It will be too late to wait until the official Home Office letters arrive through our letter boxes across the land nstructing young and old, ill and infirm to attend for biometric scanning at the police station or wherever. It is all to be set up – you know that new sassy technical-wizardry world adjunct to e-Government called biometrics – that’s fingerprinting and iris scanning – yeah – like criminals. You will have no choice and you’ll have no choice but to pay for it too – and every member of your household will have no choice – it will be law.
This Government’s plans for ID Cards certainly date back to 2000 (i.e. before 911) with an EU perspective that is well entrenched with “E-Europe blueprint agreed back then which talked of “smart” (microchipped) cards being used to access public services. Every use would be tracked. Blunkett ridiculed a story suggesting that ID cards could allow how we all shopped to be tracked. The current UK driving licence has the EU flag and the front of a passport has the words European Union. Whatever the purpose of the card, the intention is clear as the Home Office confirms that;
“The European standard to which the driving licence/identity card would need to conform does not allow for national symbols, only the European ‘Circle of Stars”
Note that New Labour’s hidden agenda is for the EU to control our “justice and home affairs” (which includes ID cards). Read the Hague Programme and the EU Constitution.
Marginally seated MPs in particular will be very anxious to hold on to their Parliamentary positions – and this is where letters can begin to help such MPs sit up and really read what’s in their postbags. They all need to be reminded that they have a public to whom they are answerable! When writing, write your letter to newspapers first with a copy to your MP (obviously keep a copy) and if your letter gets in then let NO2ID know. This is because it’s difficult to monitor every local series of newspapers to see what gets published.
At this stage in early 2005, the public can still get on and do things. Of course keen people will be thinking straight away – right just tell me what to write and I’ll send a letter. But there’s a need for more than one letter – a consortium of friends need to undertake to keep a sustained letter writing campaign.
Ten Easy Campaign Ideas
So here are some suggestions as to what to do:
1. Start by going to www.no2id.net or write for details to:
No2ID, PO Box 412, 78 Marlybone High Street, London W1U 5AP and to www.newalliance.org.uk – or write for details to: New Alliance, PO Box 13199, LONDON SW6 6ZU and to www.statewatch.org to check for detailed facts and updates for ideas on what to put into individual letters – just one or two points each letter. Using these websites will save you time as the ground work and research has been done for you – it’s just a matter of putting things into your own words – change the sentences round, change the order of the different points. It has to be expected that themedia and MPs don’t really count mass printed postcards/sample letters that have just been “topped and tailed”.
2. Weare perhaps looking at no more than around a 10-week run-in before an election can be announced and held – even early April. With more than 10 major points against ID Cards that means you can write a letter a week to your local, regional and national press with a different main point each time. Your local library will be able to help you with getting the addresses, faxes and emails of these. Once you have these then you’re ready to pass them on to friends and colleagues – share the writing and swap writing ideas – save the details on computer if you have one and pass them around. Some papers don’t like emailed letters – the main thing is to keep them SHORT and TO THE POINT and to put in your full daytime contact details. Keep those letters going in. Let your feelings show through in your letters but without them becoming unprofessional.
3. The strategy here is to have a SUSTAINED letter deluge on the media so that they can see how the public feels about the outrage of ID Cards on the whole range of multiple objections. It is of course easier to get letters in to the local and regional press. Try for the national papers too – MPs read newspapers to gauge the public’s views as well as mail from their postbags. Remember they are anxious to keep their seats in Parliament – tell them you will not vote for them if they vote for ID Cards – they certainly won’t want to read that – they are a little sensitive about their seats.
4. To date, the national newspapers seem to set their views down quite firmly – the Sun and Mirror in the pro camp and the Telegraph, Independent, Guardian and Mail taking a position against ID Cards. However, as in the Lords – can we expect there to be some dirty dancing and re-alignments? Remember we witnessed some colourful opposition speeches which can be read in Hansard online all through the debating stages of a Bill, and Editorials and Commentaries can echo sentiments of favoured politicians but in the end they can all just be swept up and COME INTO LINE – the Government’s line. So, beware the dirty dancing in the political gameplan.
5. A sustained letter writing strategy can be continued after the election as well – the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. But we must never underestimate the next plans that the Government has up its sleeve with its never ending legislative programme – they could either decide to abandon ID Cards (hopefully as too expensive, technically unworkable – they will not want to own up that the public doesn’t want them). IF enough rebel MPs from across all parties voted against the Bill at each stage and in each House we can get a sustained message to Blair and his supporters that there is a growing number of rebel MPs worried for their seats although currently a Labour rebellion looks unlikely.
6. Interestingly, it is probable that the main sector of society that has most to gain from taking an open position against the ID Card and its associated National Identity Register, is that of the ethnic communities – simply because they already live under the threat of being suspect, liable to be stopped, at risk of being questioned etc. So if you are part of such a community or have links, then please spread the message.
7. It may be you see a letter that’s already been published in a newspaper from someone else (either for or against ID Cards – it doesn’t matter). What matters is that the published letter acts as a hook for you to write to the paper on the back of it (refer to the letter in your letter). That way you can maintain the impetus – certainly keep the subject alive – fan the flames of the campaign. Eventually though, be aware that even a local editor gets tired of a subject.
8. It is also a good idea to monitor your local radio – try to get on a phone-in – phone your local radio station – ask how to get a topic going, how to get on the air – feed the producer with your views. If you’re articulate and can hold an audience’s attention on air – then push for it.
9. If you have more time and are good at organising and networking then start a local NO2ID group or start your own independent group.
10. Strategically, more groups and more networks can be a position of strength as well as the existing groups mentioned above. And finally
HOW TO DEAL WITH SILLY MANTRAS
“If you’ve got nothing to hide then you’ve got nothing to fear”
“We’ve got to do something to deal with crime”
(a) Why should we line up and be fingerprinted – that criminalises all of us – including children – they are the ones who will be afraid – traumatised even.
(b) Not wanting ID Cards is not about hiding, it’s about the right to protect private information from government systems that are not foolproof.
(c) We have everything to fear in just sitting back and watching our freedoms being eroded.
(d) Will criminals remember to carry their ID cards before committing a crime? Criminals commit crimes with or without ID cards on them or at home.
(e) Only a small percentage of DSS fraud concerns identity fraud – the money involved is tiny compared to the cost of introducing ID Cards – £5 billion and rising.
(f) Hiding from giving the Blair Government around £85 for each and every member of your family for their ID card – now that makes sense! But that will certainly be
impossible with every person being billed for individual card costs (and potentially hefty fines, £1,000 for misdemeanours such as forgetting to tell the authorities of changes to your details) e.g. for each change, replacement of lost, stolen or damaged cards and any mistake that the authorities make on your card.
Some campaigners are already beginning to talk in terms of civil disobedience being a further weapon in major co-ordinated resistance to our civil liberties being eroded. Yes, that has happened before and then Government had to back down – that was in the days of the Poll Tax. Any Government has to remember that when the British public really gets going then they don’t let up. Let’s hope we don’t have to go that far.
FOR AN EMAIL VERSION OF THIS ARTICLE TO CIRCULATE TO YOUR FRIENDS, FAMILY and WORK COLLEAGUES SEND AN EMAIL REQUEST TO firstname.lastname@example.org with NO2ID CAMPAIGN in the Subject line.
New Alliance publications – Resistance New Year 2005 Campaign Edition.
ID Cards: What the Government won’t tell you – January 2005.
To join the campaign to STOP ID Cards:
Sign the petition
Meet your local ID group
http://www.NO2ID.net or PO Box 412,
78 Marlyebone High Street, London, W1U 5AP, England.
(Monitoring the state and civil liberties in the European Union).
POBox 1516, London N16 0EW, UK.
Tel: 0208 802 1882 International: + (44) (0)208802 1882 Fax: + 44 (0)208 880 1727
Website: http://www. statewatch.com
51 Charles Street, London W1J 5ES
Tel: (UK only 0870 511) Fax: + 44 (0)207491 3036