Labour seems to be in a state of confusion over plans to revive Gordon Brown’s big state proposals for national ID cards. This morning The Times reported that shadow cabinet minister Stephen Kinnock said they were “on the table”:
“That is certainly something that Labour is reviewing and will be looking at very carefully…”
He added ID cards would be “so helpful” in reassuring the public that the government had control of its borders.
Yet just minutes later, Yvette Cooper gave a firm “no” when asked by Today if the party was considering them:
“We would have stronger employment enforcement and proper standards in place, as well as the stronger action to crack down on the criminal gangs.”
Labour policy seems to be suffering something of an identity crisis itself…
At 11:25 this morning Lord Adonis expressed opposition to “disgraceful” ID cards:
At 12:07 he came out and voiced support for ID cards:
Adonis swings both ways on ID cards in the space of 42 minutes…
1) [Page 4, bullet point 3] Despite current assertions they are sticking with fingerprints, the strategy clearly includes options to gather personal information and issue ID cards WITHOUT fingerprints, e.g. “rising 16 year olds could be sent pre-populated forms for the Inclusion card… which would only need to be signed and returned”.
2) [Page 4, bullet point 5] Indication that up to 10% of the population will be called in for ‘interrogation’ (ID interviews).
3) [Page 3, bullet point 1] Language suggests it will effectively be compulsory to *carry* the card – counter to Ministerial assertion.
4) [Page 5,’Next Steps’, bullet point 1] Initial target groups (“trusted relationships”) to be identified and confirmed by end of January 2008 – i.e. within the next 48 hours!
5) [Page 4, bullet point 6] They are explicitly pursuing a policy of “coercion” not compulsion because universal compulsion “cannot be delivered quickly due to the need for inevitably controversial and time consuming primary legislation and would pose serious political, enforcement and resource challenges.”
The message is simple; if you want to get rid of ID cards, vote against those who voted for them. Two examples where this strategy might work to devastating effect are Tooting and Islington South:
In Islington South the Tories came a distant third, but the LibDem was less than 400 votes behind left-wing Labour MP Emily Thornberry. Tories should vote for the LibDem and enjoy getting rid of the ID card loving, CND supporting MP.
In Tooting the LibDems were nearly 10,000 votes behind Labour Sadiq Khan, if they switched votes to the second-placed Tory candidate they would be getting rid of an authoritarian Labour MP who voted strongly for introducing national ID cards, strongly for Labour’s anti-terrorism laws and very strongly against investigating the Iraq war.
As things stand the third placed party has no hope, the result of widespread tactical voting would be less MPs to push through ID cards and guaranteed LibDem and Tory gains. Across the country tactical voting would further slash Labour’s majority. The logic is clear, where a LibDem or Tory is in a distant third place, vote for the candidate most likely to unseat the ID card supporter. Guido doesn’t think it impossible we could see Nick Clegg and David Davis on the same anti-ID cards platform.
Of course fear of tactical voting could result in Gordon Brown dropping ID cards altogether before the election – which would be huge a victory for the NO2ID campaign…
Is it time for them to consider tactical voting? Mike Smithson over at PoliticalBetting.com has made the case for this before, if you want to get rid of this government, vote for the party best placed to beat New Labour in your constituency. In Scotland that seems to have happened already, the business community has switched from the no-hope Tories to the SNP. In return the SNP has begun to talk more about “Enterprise Scotland” and is now polling even stronger than during the recent local elections.
The problem is that LibDem and Tory activists hate each other. They would not countenance any explicit instruction to vote for the other party. Often at each others neck in local government, the idea of a non-aggression pact is unpalatable. Rather than going into any protracted negotiations the Tories should just direct resources away from LibDem incumbents and into the battle in Labour seats. The LibDems political antennae would detect the shift, they would consequently be able to shift their more limited resources away from defending LibDem seats against Tory insurgents and towards attacking Labour incumbents.