No to ID cards means just that, nothing less

Civil liberties are central to a healthy society

No means no!No means no!
There was so much wrong with Nulabour, ID cards and the database to support it were just typical. The Nucoalition will, we are told, do things differently; the plan is to sweep away the ideas of population control with Stalinesque tendencies but this has already attracted attention and the rearguard action and fight back has begun. My friends who listen to a lot of BBC Radio 4 tell me that the ever helpful beeb is always mentioning the 'value' of DNA to us all, or talking up the police and how difficult their task will be without draconian powers. Typical is the article in the Telegraph by Alasdair Palmer 'Why the coalition is set to bring us a rise in crime'.

The title is absurd. There might be a rise in crime on the way, on the other hand perhaps that's not to be so. True there has always been a tendency for governments to claim credit for anything that happens, whether part of their doing or not. The present Nucoalition may try to do just that if crime falls. But to blame them for a rise, in advance of the evidence, is stupid, doubly so when Palmer also says that this will occur due to the plan to drop ID cards. Palmer says -

"But getting rid of ID cards and making it harder for the police to retain DNA records is not going to reduce crime: if anything, it will increase it, by making crime harder to detect and criminals more difficult to apprehend".

This is nonsense. The idea that crime cannot be detected without ID cards and extensive DNA records is false. Even if the UK did have the entire population on record there still has to be a hope of, or perhaps the will to, detect a crime before the dream-state ultra high tech approach swings into action. As we all know in a typical urban situation burglar alarms sing themselves hoarse and all manner of crime carries on and the police and related authorities are unaware. There is also a huge difference between detection and the solving of crime. We are all familiar with the serial offender; locally a young man has run a car sale business from his house, untaxed cars sit at the kerb for ages waiting for either repair or a buyer. This has been the case for at least twenty years,. he advertises this 'service' in the local paper, the police are 'unaware'? The locals think they simply don't care, but what other and more important crime solving they do meanwhile is open to conjecture.

The Stefan Kiszko case see HERE is worth quoting here. Kiszko was, to use modern terminology, socially ill at ease and vulnerable. He was arrested and charged even though some in the police knew he was not capable of committing the crime. They even had forensic evidence to prove this was so but did not use it. Other evidence related to the crime in the intervening years has 'gone missing'. There have been many media-led inquiries into this case. Throughout these the police maintained a 'desire to clear their name'. This is not the same as being part of the justice process. Also throughout this case is the fact that the technology depended on the right attitude within the police force to be of any value. In recent years the relentless arrest of black youth and covert building of an unofficial DNA database shows that the honest use of technology is still founded upon the right attitude, which is still sadly lacking. Palmer seems to miss this point entirely. In addition, the proportion of recorded crimes detected using DNA has not increased in the last 5 years, despite 2 million more people’s records being kept.

However, he then goes onto mention prisons, Palmer is keen on prisons. In fact all the way through he muddles ID cards and prisons as if there is some, obvious to him, relationship between the two; one that is thwarted by the civil liberties argument. Perhaps prisons work in some countries but the more you learn about UK prisons the more you realise they are counter-productive. Yet Palmer wants the new Home Secretary, Theresa May, to stick with the Tory promise of building more prisons and not to go with the LibDems who see the problem differently. Palmer says -

"If the Home Secretary compromises in this way, a lot of voters are going to feel betrayed. But then compromise, as David Cameron has said, is an inevitable consequence of “the new politics”. So too is betrayal".

To portray the whole issue this way, so simply, is missing the point. Civil liberties are not some minor issue tacked onto the far edge of a general political platform, they are central. Many people voted for David Cameron and the Tory party, for the first time, because of their stand against the ID cards and related databases. They were very aware of the stand by David Davis on civil liberties. These people I suggest are far greater in number than those who want more prisons.

Had the Tory party paid proper attention to the arithmetic behind the referendum on the Lisbon Treaty they would have offered more than to: "not let matters rest" In other words they would now have a working majority without coalition with the LibDems. If they get the civil liberties arithmetic wrong they will see votes go from them to the LibDems. Is Cameron really that stupid?