Feb 032009

Going over some visa paperwork this morning on the UK Border Agency website (the loading of which sucked up my computer’s entire capacity to do anything for four minutes), I found myself slogging through stupid shit and remembered, with considerable fury, this fucking abomination from a couple of months ago.*

Jacqui Smith, Home Secretary and total whore, announced in November that all foreign nationals wishing to live and work in the United Kingdom must acquire an ID card containing, among other things, their fingerprints and facial-scan data. This includes foreign nationals already living and working in the UK, who will need to apply for their ID cards when they seek to renew their visas.

She had this to say about it:

Foreign nationals living, working and studying here legally want to be able to prove that easily. We want to prevent those here illegally from benefiting from the privileges of Britain.

Erm… I do not care about being ‘able to prove’ my legality ‘easily.’ As far as I’m concerned, the reason I apply for (and pay through the nose for) my visa and work permit is to put the onus on the government: it is their job to prove I am here illegally. Unless there is some reasonable cause to believe otherwise, the assumption should be that I am a law-abiding member of the public whose presence in the UK is perfectly legal.

Businesses, other employers and colleges want to be confident that those they are employing or taking onto courses are who they say they are, and have the right to work or study in our country.

I am certain this is true, but the reason businesses, employers and colleges want to be confident of this fact is so that the government does not investigate and/or fine them for paying/admitting ‘illegals’ to work/learn.

Immigration officers and police officers want to be able to easily verify identity and detect abuse. We all want to see our borders more secure and human trafficking, organised immigration crime, illegal working and benefit fraud tackled.

What kind of ‘abuse,’ exactly, would this be? Never mind the fact that most of the humans trafficked into the UK or committing benefit ‘fraud’ are from within the EU. The EU, of course, does not count as ‘foreign’ because one of the purposes of the EU is to ensure the free movement of labour. Can we please, please also acknowledge that, for instance, the 7/7 bombers were ‘”ordinary British citizens“‘, and the common excuse for these ID cards (the safety of the public and prevention of terrorism) is a complete prevarication?

The remark about benefit fraud particularly amazes me. If this government is so stupid, ineffectual, and incompetent that it cannot keep track of who is who and what benefits they should be getting, perhaps the solution is not ID cards but instead (a) to throw out the present government, or (b) dispense with the benefits system.

Along with the new points system starting this week, ID cards for foreign nationals will bring real changes to how we control migration by locking foreign nationals to one identity – using fingerprints and facial images.

Fingerprints and facial images, eh? And this data is going to be oh-so-secure, isn’t it, o Mighty and Wise government who lost the personal and bank details of 25 million (yes, million) people on a carelessly-posted disk, lost 17,000 asylum-seekers’ data, lost the details of 3 million learner drivers on a hard drive left in the USA, and left a wodge of Foreign Office briefings on the seat of a fucking train? Even those shits at the Guardian are unimpressed.

Within three years everyone coming here from outside Europe for more than six months will be given a card showing they have the right to be here and work or study.

I’ve already got a bloody document that shows I have the right to be here and work! Why must I be issued with another one?

The National Identity Scheme will deliver a secure and simple proof of ID for all those legally entitled to live and work in the UK – and the majority of people say they welcome identity cards and the benefits they will bring.

Is this for fucking real? The majority of people what? Where is the survey in which over 50% of people claim to welcome these ID cards? Who are these lunatics? They certainly aren’t the poor foreign nationals who will be forced to carry them around.

Let us also keep in mind the salient fact that foreign nationals, the first people in Britain for whom this identity ‘scheme’ will be mandatory, are in fact the only people living in the bloody country who are not allowed to vote. Coincidence? Je pense que non.

That is why I will be inviting those who want the chance to get one of the first UK identity cards to pre-register their interest.

Yes, let us see how many takers you get on this one.

I am confident the small group of volunteers chosen for these first cards will quickly realise, like I already do, that identity cards are secure, convenient and here to help protect us all.

This final paragraph is particularly galling. A small group of ‘volunteers?’ Presumably these are the lunatics who will be ‘pre-registering their interest.’ And yet the selection of the word ‘chosen’ suggests either (a) these may not necessarily be volunteers, or (b) this is the government’s pathetic attempt to make it sound as if the pool of ‘volunteers’ will be so big that they’ll be stymied by their surfeit of options.

Either way, I am fucking floored by the characterisation of the ID cards as ‘secure, convenient and here to help protect us all.’ How is giving all ten of my fingerprints ‘convenient’? Surely I will have to take myself to a special face-scanning station to get my face scanned; it’s not as if there will be booths for it in Tesco (as there are for passport photos). And there is no question of ID cards being free, surely? Will I have to pay another £90 for it on top of the £800 I already pay for my visa and work permit?

‘Secure,’ hmph. Vide supra.

‘Helping to protect us all’ is another good one. From what – benefit fraud?

The assumptions being made in this ‘article’ are astounding. First, that I as a foreigner am happy to surrender my privacy, and to pay for the privilege of doing so, to protect the British public. Not being able to vote, I have been given no choice in this matter whatsoever. And the British public I’m surrendering my privacy to protect are, if Ms Smith is to be believed, in favour of this scheme, which will save us from the scourge of ‘illegal working and benefit fraud.’

Second, let us not forget that I already possess two documents that prove I am living and working here legally: my visa and my work permit. These documents do not, of course, contain biometric data. They also do not need to be carried on my person at all times. How long will it be, I wonder, before it is announced that ID cards must be carried always and produced upon demand? And of course, the demand will require reasonable cause, but here in the UK, where the police can (or so I’m told) ‘demand’ your DNA when they question you, even if you have done nothing wrong, or lock you up for, what is it now, 28 days? without charge, how ‘reasonable’ is the demand to see my ID card going to have to be?

I object to being scanned, printed, and tagged like a piece of fucking livestock.

*It really ruined my afternoon, all right?

  12 Responses to “The mark of the beast”

  1. […] Let go of your ego, hang onto your ID Highlighted by Timmy the other day, the delightful Bella Gerens has a rather good blog; a particular highlight is this wonderful critique of ID Cards in general and fisking of Jacqboot Smith in particular. […]

  2. It is outrageous that you have so far had only one comment on so scintillating a demolition of our deranged government’s obviously sinister determination to fit us all up with ID cards.

    So here, being English of a certain generation, is my inevitably tongue-tied attempt to wish you well. It goes like this.

    Cripes, golly, gulp, gosh: here is one seriously smart young woman, her head screwed on obviously tightly, possibly the only American of her generation who seems to be able to understand Latin, who, lured for reasons not yet made clear to our sad, sorry land, nonetheless has no hesitation in recognising that ‘Jacqui’ Smith, laughably Britain’s Home Secretary, is as repellent as she is hideous, as stupid as she is repulsive, as cretinous as she is verminous and as nasty as she is poisonous.

    So, all in all, pretty good stuff on your part, I’d say. I look forward to reading more.

  3. Hey,
    Great article that expounds pretty much what most Brits think as well.
    No-one believes ‘the majority want ID cards…’.

    The only problem in your argument is that if we Brits want to fly to the USA, we have to pre-register 36 or more pieces of data, together with our credit card details AND provide finger prints and photoscan on presenting ourselves at your wonderful US border guard officers. Otherwise, Go Bella, you rock.

  4. I would have enjoyed your comments if only I weren’t so afraid. People I speak to seem totally unconcerned about the galloping loss of freedom; or remark that ‘they can do nothing.’ How I deplore the terminological inexactitudes of Jacqui and Jack! How do these turds sleep at night.
    Keep up the good work Bella.

    • I really appreciate that. And I was hugely tickled to get a shout-out from DK who, I happen to know, has rather exacting standards.

  5. I know. It was thanks to Chris that I stumbled on you in the first place.

    But, in all the confused mess that may or may not constitute the blogosphere, I think you may, properly, have something important to say.

    Early days I know. But it’s impressive nonetheless.

    You should definitely keep going.



    • Ah yes, as when the government ‘consulted’ the ‘public’ about the smoking ban, or the ban on displaying tobacco products in shops. In fact, they consulted a number of publicly-funded anti-smoking groups. Vide. Thank you for commenting; it heartens me to discover that the British public do not, in fact, think the way the British government claims they do.

  6. I’ve only just come across this excellent article, so apologies for the late response. No, Bella, despite what Jacquie and her cronies might try and pretend, the majority of the British public are, in fact, deeply suspicious about (a) the need for ID cards, (b) the real reasons this Government are so keen on them, (c) the accompanying databases which are being set up in order to make the scheme work (and the question about what might happen to those databases should the ID card proposals be abandoned), (d) the ability of our incompetent and self-serving public servants to implement the scheme and administer it fairly and (e) the possibility that an ID card system would do anything at all to prevent terrorism or crime. With this Government, the “public opinions” they so lovingly trot out whenever it suits them rarely come from a wide and varied random selection of the real public and come instead from a small number of people, carefully selected from groups whom they know will give the “right” answer to enable them to make this claim. The British public have rarely been “consulted” and are increasingly sceptical of the results of such “consultations.”

    Keep up the good work!

  7. […] Alan, you’re just trotting out the same old shit as your predecessor, only much less sympathetically because Jacqboot, unlike you, did seem to understand the difference […]

  8. Hey, thanks!

    I think most people are commenting over at the Devil’s Kitchen…

  9. Thanks!

    I’m well aware of the nonsense US immigration makes foreigners go through. Believe me, I don’t support that, either.

  10. Thanks! I too am afraid, and I worry deeply about the sanity of people who are not. The response I most often hear from them is, ‘Why should you mind that you can’t do [x]? You shouldn’t be doing it/there’s no reason for doing it anyway.’ Makes me weep, it does.

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