Monday 4 July 2005

Dissolution by stealth?

So, ID cards, eh? What a bugger. May Blunkett rot in the Hell of Eternal Furniture Rearrangement for managing to fulfill every Home Secretary's wet dream and actually get the bastard thing through Parliament.

Many people are signing this pledge thing, which is a very good idea, but flawed. The government are intending to amalgamate the ID card application process with the passport application process, you see, so the only way to refuse to register for an ID card is also to refuse to leave the country. That's not practical for all of us. Ironically, the only way to escape the intrusion of New British Uberstatism — that is, by leaving the country — will be to volunteer for the intrusion of New British Uberstatism. Or you can "escape" by allowing them to lock you in the country. Nice. Combine this with the new plans to track our every car journey by satellite, and you've got a real Stasi. Churchill was right.

Here in Northern Ireland, we have an interesting constitution, somewhat different to that of the rest of the UK. For instance, all Northern Irish subjects are equally entitled to British and Irish passports. As a general rule, Nationalists take Irish passports and Unionists take British ones. But the Northern Irish people are notoriously resistant to state bureaucratic intrusion in their lives: we have, I believe, the highest rate of TV license fee avoidance in the UK. If a mere TV licence is regarded as an unacceptable infringement of rights, what will happen to the ID card over here?

Well, I know of one staunch Unionist who is already considering taking out an Irish passport for the first time in their life. I imagine plenty more will follow. We all know the Labour Party's answer to the Irish Question. What are the chances that they won't use an increase in applications for Irish passports in the province as "evidence" that the people of the North really want to join the Republic? If I were a cynic, I'd suggest that this may have been part of the plan all along. Oh, hang on; I am a cynic. Well, then.

Of course, with the ID cards and their attendant database in place, who can say the Government won't be right? Maybe we will want out of the Union. More freedom in Eire than the UK? Bizarre, but it looks like it's going to happen. Who'd ever have thunk it?

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