ID cards were a bad idea from the start

Philip Johnston writes in the Daily Telegraph:

The Coalition’s first Bill will be debated in the House of Commons tomorrow and, fittingly, it involves the repeal of a measure that is emblematic of the last Labour government’s time in office: ID cards.

I have lost count of the articles I have written about them since they were first proposed by David Blunkett, the former home secretary, after the September 11 attacks in America in 2001. At the time, Labour claimed support from about 80 per cent of the population for a mandatory scheme that would involve establishing a National Identity Register to carry the personal details of every adult in the land.

For many, as the dust from the collapsed World Trade Centre towers cleared to reveal a changed security landscape, this seemed a small price to pay for improved safety in the face of the terrorist threat. A familiar phrase came to be used to justify the proposal: if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.

But of course this was never a security measure at all. The Home Office had been trying to establish a register of the population ever since the last ID card was abolished after the Second World War. When he was home secretary in the previous Conservative government in 1994, Michael Howard flirted with the idea but was beaten back.