Friday, May 28, 2010

Odd Bedfellows

The first major move of the new government in Great Britain is a surprising display of good sense: the coalition government has decided to abolish the move to a national identification card (the British version of "Real I.D.").

Britain's new government announced Thursday that its first major legislation will be a bill to scrap a controversial and costly plan to introduce national identification cards.

"ID cards will be gone in a 100 days," Home Secretary Theresa May said at a news conference.

May said the government would save more than $1 billion in the next decade by canceling the cards and the corresponding national registry. The cards contain biometric data, photographs and fingerprints.

"But this isn't just about saving money," May said, "It's also about principle.... We did believe there was a liberties argument for not enforcing ID cards on the British people."

That the first reason given for abolishing the program is cost is certainly no surprise. It's the first things conservatives worry about. We've seen that here as Congress foisted yet another unfunded mandate on the states when it passed the "Real I.D." bill, and governors began to howl. Of course, American conservatives at the time put up with the move for some of the reasons that British conservatives did: both were horrified at the influx of immigrants and both were in the midst of pushing the fear of terrorism meme on their citizens. US Republicans also added a dash of voter fraud to the mix as the threat of a Democratic victory approached.

The civil liberties issue was well-down the list on reasons to end the controversial British plan, but that was one issue on which both the Tories and the Liberal Democrats could agree. There is no such agreement in this country. Instead, the Republican and Democratic Party leaders are quite happy with "Real I.D.", as is, apparently, the White House. While the time line for full compliance has been extended to give the states a little breathing room, there is no movement for cancelling this odious plan. We in the United States will still, at least at some point and in some states, have to show our papers on demand.

Sucks, doesn't it.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

the brits are a bit crazy about surveillance, imo. this is good news.

4:24 PM  

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