Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Tories warn industry that their government will scrap ID card project

The British Conservative Party has issued a warning to companies intending to tender for work in the multibillion Pound ID card scheme that a future Tory government would "immediately" cancel the project.

As the Financial Times reports today, shadow home secretary David Davis also wrote to the government asking for that position to be taken into account when entering into contracts. (See here for the official announcement on the party's website.)

This is an interesting move. On the one hand, it increases the party politicisation of the privacy issue that I have speculated about in this blog in the past (see here and here). This is all the more so since the Tories are presently launching a web- and print-based campaign against ID cards. The main arguments put forward are that ID cards "won't work", "are a waste of money", and "an invasion of privacy". The campaign also includes an online petition to the Prime Minister "to scrap the proposed introduction of ID cards". (As of 6 February 2007, 16,143 signatures have been added).

On the other hand (and speaking as a political scientist), it is an interesting procedure for a weak opposition to try to exert influence on an all-powerful government. While most experts would at the moment probably think a hung parliament more likely than an outright Conservative majority in a future UK general election, it must hearten the Tories see firm announcements of what they will do once they return to power — whenever that may be…

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