It was reported yesterday that the controversial ID cards scheme will be piloting in Manchester in the autumn.
This, in spite of the fact that the scheme is estimated to cost billions per year, and is entirely unnecessary. Both main opposition parties have vowed to scrap the scheme, seeing it for the waste of money it is. Even David Blunkett, the former Home Secretary, has said the scheme should be abandoned, as these cards will do nothing that biometric passports can't do. Whether that is true or not, the Government should listen. The excellent campaign group No2ID have been arguing the case against ID cards for a long time, both on the grounds of infringement of personal privacy and on the ludicrously high cost of the scheme.
It seems that the majority of people and politicians have come round to their way of thinking, but will the Government take heed? When you have experts, the general public and politicians of all stripes (including a former Home Secretary from your own party) saying something is simply too costly, and won't bring any tangible benefits, you should at least think about reconsidering.
But not this Government, they are staggering on regardless and about to flush even more taxpayers' money down the New Labour tech-project toilet. They are ploughing on with something that is useless, expensive and unwanted. And all this in the face of a recession that will mean public spending cuts, and less tax take. Money will be incredibly and increasingly tight in the coming months and years, and you would have thought this sort of thing would be the first for the axe. Sadly that is not the case, and we are doomed to stand by and watch more of our hard-earned cash squandered.
Jane Moore put it very well in her column this week and, although she wasn't talking about ID cards at the time, the principle stands. "We've worked hard, dutifully paid our taxes and kept on the straight and narrow. And for what?"
Quite. Our tax money is wasted, and our privacy invaded, however we behave.