It's official - tories now unelectable

#1
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/...1.xml&sSheet=/portal/2004/12/21/ixportal.html

Howard preferred ridicule to being thought soft on terror
By Stephen Robinson
(Filed: 21/12/2004)

Until Michael Howard flunked the test yesterday and forced his reluctant frontbench Tory colleagues to endorse the looming multi-billion-pound ID card fiasco, the Tories had at least one promising vote-winning issue for next year's election campaign.



A question could have been put to the electorate along these lines: do you think that government has become over-mighty in the past eight years; and, if so, do you want to have to get into the car with your wife or husband and drive to the police station, stand and queue while your car is clamped outside, submit to a reading being taken of your iris or fingerprint, provide a signature sample and your home address, and then write out a cheque to the government for £170?

You might have a couple of children at university - that'll be another £170 for them - and don't forget the ageing parents, for they are not exempt either. Those parents might be of an age when they can get cranky and refuse to submit to some silly jobsworth, but be careful. If they refuse to allow their details to be stored on the new identity databank, they will be liable for a £2,500 fine. And if an elderly relative has to be moved into a nursing home, don't forget to tell the Home Office or you may be liable for a £1,000 fine.

One of the characteristics of the ID card Bill that makes it recognisable as a piece of New Labour legislation is that it creates 31 new powers for the Home Secretary, seven new civil fines, and eight new criminal offences.

If you like the idea of all this and can afford the £400 or so it will cost your extended family (the Tories could have said), then vote Labour and help Charles Clarke, the new Home Secretary, get one over all those he accuses of "liberal woolly thinking". On the other hand, if you are sceptical of grandiose government in general, and of ID cards in particular, the Tories might have said, then vote for us.

Mr Howard might have added that he would take the billions that Labour will spend on this scheme, and use it to improve border controls, to put more police on the streets, and bolster the security services.

He might have pointed out that we face a real and immediate terrorist threat and that ID cards will not be fully operational for at least seven years, even assuming the technology works. The Tories might have remarked on how America's Department of Homeland Security, no slouchers in the war on terror, have no plans for a national ID card, but prefer to concentrate their efforts on border control and intelligence.

They might have mentioned that the real terrorist threat we face might actually come from within the pool of 26 million short-term visitors to British ports and airports every year, and that, if none of these foreigners needs an ID card, then why should your elderly parents in Cheltenham?

The Tories might, heaven forbid, have said they would not raise or spend the billions the ID scheme would cost because Conservatives believe in small government and want to cut taxes, not raise them.

But Mr Howard could not bear the thought of looking "weak on terror", so preferred to make his front-bench team seem ridiculous yesterday in forcing them to fall in line behind a scheme that will cost billions, make us no safer and ultimately prove highly unpopular. He has deprived millions of people like me with an innate scepticism towards government of a real choice next year. At the very moment when one senses that voters are growing uneasy at the controlling instincts of New Labour, the Tory front bench has endorsed Big Government on stilts.

The concept of the ID card is one that appeals to people in principle, as the poll tax did in its early days. Problems came then, as they will with the ID cards, when it was implemented and the bills came in. When the costs escalate, and people are faced with ensuring that all their family comply with the new law, then hostility will spread.

One of the oddest aspects of ID cards is that they really will not make us any safer from terrorist attack, and we know this from no less an authority than David Blunkett, the former home secretary. Back in 2002, when the Government was "consulting" on the principle of an ID system, the Home Office preferred to call it a voluntary "entitlement card" to help citizens access government services.

In the course of a revealing Commons exchange in July of that year, Chris Mullin, a Labour MP, asked Mr Blunkett if he could confirm a card would be of "little or no use in combating terrorism". Surprisingly perhaps, the former home secretary freely acknowledged this to be the case, arguing that "it is important that we do not pretend" that a card "would be an overwhelming factor in combating international terrorism".

Mr Blunkett proved quite prescient in his candid admission, for ID cards in Spain did not prevent the Madrid railway bombings. How odd that Michael Howard now dismisses Mr Blunkett's warning and sees in ID cards an indispensable tool to guard against terrorist attack.

The Government remains cagey about going into specifics on the overall cost, suggesting £3.1 billion will cover it, which is an absurd underestimate. That does not include the price of scanners to read the cards, or general compliance costs, and this figure will rise enormously; one reason why Gordon Brown remains highly sceptical.

Industry estimates suggest the true figure will be more like £10 billion, and, if recent experience of government IT projects is a reliable guide, it could be double that. When an ambitious plan for a new NHS national online database emerged from a Downing Street seminar chaired by Tony Blair in 2002, it was allocated £2.3 billion of central funding. The Commons public accounts committee now thinks total expenditure will exceed £30 billion, with one member describing the cost overruns as "terrifying".

It is not difficult to see how this ID card scheme could become New Labour's defining fiasco. People will resent the cost and the intrusion, but the serious trouble could come when the police are required to enforce it in areas with high Muslim populations, where many might prefer not to register. The Government and the Conservatives seem blithe about what this might do for race relations in this country.

The Tories have failed to see that this debate is about much more than a piece of plastic. It is about our attitude to government, and its attitude to us. I would not expect New Labour to understand that point, but if the Tories do not understand it either, there is no point in someone like me voting for them any more.

In selfish terms, I was relieved to see Michael Howard take the easy way out and endorse ID cards, because it freed me of any sense that I should have to vote for his party. No longer will I have to profess enthusiasm about Tory policies, or pretend that I see the green shoots of a Conservative revival.

For the first time I shall vote for the Liberal Democrats, because they do understand that the identity card debate is about the just role of government, and I suspect tens of thousands of instinctive Conservatives will do the same next year.
I'm now predicting a Lab/LibDem coalition at the next election, with UKIP taking huge swathes of traditional Tory seats.

When publicwhip is back up in a few days, I'll find out how my MP voted, and if he didn't abstain or rebel, I shall be switching my vote to UKIP...
 
#2
Thought you lived in Holland?

UKIP is a wasted vote in a general election. It's about as much use as an ash tray on a motorbike, particularly with self important permatan being a figurehead.
 
#3
Feck!!!

I just wish Mr Howard would get back to traditional tory policies and stop mincing his ones with the trendy centre politics of the liberal PC elite.

What ever happened to

Minimal influence of government on an individuals life
Small government
Low taxes
Encouraging entrepreneurial (Sp?) enterprises
Wealth and job creation for all
Individual choice (with individual responsibility for those choices!)


If they dont get their finger out, i may go for the new party or may just vote strategically to get labour out in my neck of the woods :roll:

agent smith
 
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error_unknown

Guest
#4
scalieback said:
UKIP is a wasted vote in a general election. It's about as much use as an ash tray on a motorbike, particularly with self important permatan being a figurehead.
Agreed. A small gaggle of cheesy Little Englanders with some very nasty views on race not too far below the surface.
 
#5
Howard is the wrong guy. I'd put Boris Johnston up as he at least speaks up and is not afraid to be anti PC even if a little pompous. He certainly went up in my thinking over the Liverpool issue. I'm not too bothered if he has his own secret supply of "little ones".
 
#6
Yep, boris is another straight talker!

we need more of them instead of your typical mincer lawyer brigade who wont answer a straight question :evil:


we can but hope

agent smith
 
#7
Scalieback - yes, I do live in Holland, but I'm not a permanent resident here. Therefore, I still maintain an address in the UK, and can still vote. In fact, I believe that I'm obliged to maintain an address in the UK. It's a complicated arrangement I don't totally understand, but is due to who I work for...
 
#8
scalieback and chicken punk wrote:
UKIP is a wasted vote in a general election. It's about as much use as an ash tray on a motorbike, particularly with self important permatan being a figurehead.


Agreed. A small gaggle of cheesy Little Englanders with some very nasty views on race not too far below the surface
I think more Little Britainers than Englanders
 
#9
yeh but no but yeh but no but YEAH!!

Shut it!! Any way your just a scabby nosed honker and everbody knows you touched BB's hairy one behind the bike shed!!

Oh you so did!!!

:twisted: :twisted: :twisted: :twisted: :twisted:

Agent smith
 
#10
OldRedCap said:
scalieback and chicken punk wrote:
UKIP is a wasted vote in a general election. It's about as much use as an ash tray on a motorbike, particularly with self important permatan being a figurehead.


Agreed. A small gaggle of cheesy Little Englanders with some very nasty views on race not too far below the surface
I think more Little Britainers than Englanders
Do they have the only 'gay in the village' then? Are you sure UKIP allow homosexuality? I thought UKIP was for the hetro WASPs.
 
#11
stoatman said:
Scalieback - yes, I do live in Holland, but I'm not a permanent resident here. Therefore, I still maintain an address in the UK, and can still vote. In fact, I believe that I'm obliged to maintain an address in the UK. It's a complicated arrangement I don't totally understand, but is due to who I work for...
Thought as much. I take it like postings abroad, you have a postal vote.
 
#13
You can vote if you are a UK citizen abroad . I'll post the appropriate link when I can find it.
 
#14
From the little I saw of it, Howard made an effective attack on the Government's "grubby" style today arising out of the Blunkett affair. I hope a transcript or summary comes out.
 

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