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“Identity Cards would be a backward step” Says Lib Dem prospective parliamentary candidate, Robert Eggleston

August 16, 2018 9:18 PM
By Robert Eggleston in Mid Sussex Times

Robert Eggleston, Mid Sussex PPC

"Identity Cards were introduced in the Second World War as a security measure but continued under the post war Labour government. The last person to be prosecuted for not carrying an ID card was Clarence Harry Willcock in 1950, who had been stopped for speeding. He declined to show his card declaring that, 'I am a Liberal and against this sort of thing'. Well, I am also a Liberal so, unsurprisingly, I am against this sort of thing too!

The aftermath of Willcock's defiance was that the incoming Conservative government under Sir Winston Churchill (in 1951) pledged to abolish ID Cards "to set the people free". So it is ironic that Churchill's grandson claims that having ID cards 'would allow us greater freedom'. His grandfather clearly thought otherwise.

The re-introduction of ID cards would not produce greater freedom at all. I already have a National Insurance number, a passport and a driving licence. I am on the electoral register and my bank account, credit card and mortgage payment details are held on the databases of at least three credit agencies. There is enough information available to the government to prove who I am. There is no need for more. As a private law abiding citizen I have the right to pass through the United Kingdom without having to carry documentation to show who I am to any government authority without a very good reason. That right should not be taken away.

Here is the point. As a white, middle class male of mature years, in a professional occupation, I am never likely to be asked to show an ID card anyway.

Make no mistake, the Windrush generation went through their recent citizenship ordeal for two reasons: the colour of their skin and the hostile environment created in the Home Office by Theresa May when Home Secretary. So similarly if you are a young black male, or a Muslim woman in a head dress, or a young Asian, or you look or sound "a bit foreign" then you will be more likely to be asked to prove who you are just because you fit into one of those categories even though there is no evidence that you are more likely to be a criminal.

The re-introduction of Identity Cards will, at great financial cost, drive a wedge between communities by creating a climate of suspicion, hostility and prejudice and, in an already divided nation, this is a backward step we simply should not take."