Opinion: Blunkett gets ID cards support for now

I know that David Blunkett won't be at this year's FA Cup final but I bet he's secretly supporting Millwall. To get a season ticket there you need a special Millwall ID card and to get that you must show a birth certificate, a passport and proof of address.

Even the Tories didn't dare introduce ID cards, but this has only encouraged David Blunkett to go where they wouldn't. The Home Secretary, though, has had two things working in his favour. Tony Blair supports him and so does the majority of the public.

The whole ID card project is just one big PR scam designed to make it look like the Government is doing something about fighting the threat of terrorism, though, to be fair to Blunkett and the Home Office, their PR on the issue has been good. They have cleverly briefed that the new card will be 'optional' to begin with, even though this completely defeats the whole object of having the cards in the first place.

When I interviewed a senior police officer on the subject, he told me that the showing of an ID card would be like that of a driving licence - if you didn't have it on you then you would be asked to produce the documents a few days later down at the station. 'What was the point of having a separate ID card then?' I asked. His only concern seemed to be that it would help identify people arrested, though quite how if they weren't obliged to carry the card at all times I don't know. While the police support for Blunkett's crazy project is secure, the same can't be said for the rest of the Cabinet.

Number one opponent is the Chancellor, who thinks the whole scheme is a complete waste of money. But Gordon Brown isn't daft enough to publicly oppose the plan when 80 per cent of us think it's a good idea. He will allow Blunkett to waste money on the scheme for now, even supporting this week's draft bill, knowing full well that by the time big money needs to be spent, he will probably be PM and Blunkett consigned to the back benches. Blunkett showed us again this week why he will never make it to the top. He 'let it be known' that he was furious about not being consulted over Blair's decision to hold a referendum on the new European constitution.

That shows us what a complete lack of political judgement he has.

When Brown decided to make the Bank of England independent he never told Blunkett - but he didn't tell deputy PM John Prescott, either. However, Prescott got me to brief them that the Chancellor had discussed the matter well in advance of the statement and that is what was reported. Prescott's good political judgement is the reason why he has survived so long and will survive the Home Secretary.

For now, though, the ID card plan is going ahead and will continue to get public support until the general public realise they've been conned.

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