back to article Father of ID cards moots compulsory passports instead

Former Home Secretary and career ID-card enthusiast David Blunkett is to switch horses to passports, in what The Independent claims is a "U-turn." But it looks distinctly more like a cunning plan to get everyone onto the ID database faster - by making passports compulsory. Or, indeed, to save the core of the UK ID scheme in …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Sounds like a plan to me...

    Compulsory passports so we can all leave this shambles of a country.

    Paris, and she was so close to finding a new best friend.

  2. Paul Murphy

    >got the balance between liberty and security broadly right

    In whos view? The current Labour government has done more to hinder liberty than any other, aside from possibly the (coalition) government during WW2.

    Can't take photos,

    Shouldn't have more than one mobile phone,

    Demonstrating not allowed,

    Keeping DNA of people whether charged or not,

    Stop and Search for no reason,

    oh the list goes on.

    Welcome to the gulag chums.


  3. David Simpson


    WOO HOO ! I love it, I always wondered what the point of was of having ID cards and passports.

    Being from Belfast originally I shal be replacing my present British passport with an Irish one so no database for me WOO HOO

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Interesting side issue

    Blunkett left government because he'd used his position at the Home Office to get a visa for his girlfriend's nanny (allegedly). Now the visas are handled jointly by the Home Office/FO, Jacqui Smith is the one who decides if the visa is approved or not, so Blunkett wouldn't need the email to approve the visa, he could under the new system rubber stamp it personally.

    Interesting that when she took over visa's, they stopped accepting applications from bastard children. The electronic form doesn't let applications from bastards be entered, you'd think it was a mistake, until you ring the embassy and no, they do not, you cannot apply if the computer says you cannot, and the form won't take applications absent the fathers details, so you cannot apply. (Düsseldorf embassy, application from Thai married to German).

  5. David Adams
    Black Helicopters

    It's not the Card I object to....

    It's the bloody Database that is the problem.

    They just put Pyjamas on the horse and they are trying to persuade us it's a Zebra!!!

    Where is the 1984 or V for Vendetta icon?

  6. Bod

    Database state

    As always, the real problem has been and remains the database.

    I don't really have an issue with the passport route any more than an ID card. It's what is stored on the database behind it, and more importantly who has access to that information, what it will be used for and the security of that information.

    That and the massive extra burden on the taxpayer with the inevitable massive overspend on a mess of a government IT project.

    Awaits the "nothing to hide" arguments...

    to which I simply counter that would you like your information on a centralised database to be lost on a memory stick on a train and your ID cloned leading to theft, fraud or just simply post information about your private life all over the web? Or misuse of your information by the government and councils to keep track of your every movement for trivial matters? What about a mix up in IDs due to system or human cock-up and you end up a terror suspect jailed without charge for 42 days, or worse shot by armed police because they are convinced they have the right person just because the database says so? How about you are refused a loan or get a job application turned down because the database says you put your rubbish in the wrong bin!

    I remain to be convinced that sufficient safeguards are there. With disparate systems there is inherent safety, albeit at the cost of a little time when communicating information between systems, but security in ensuring information isn't spread easily.

    Nothing to hide. Everything to worry about.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Me too!

    David Blunket is just following the current anti-surveillance sentiment and trying to look like is in touch with popular opinion. If he was in touch with opinion he would have stopped ID Cards when he was at the Home Office.

    He's been upstaged by an ex-chief of Spooks and is now stating, "I was just going to say that."

  8. Adair Silver badge

    An emphemeral distraction to my grand master plan.

    Mwhahahahahahahha, I, for one, welcome the continuing attempts of my puny earthling overlords to own me---body, mind and soul. It will only make my ultimate and inevitable victory over them all the sweeter.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Lying liar

    Just leave it to a politician to think up new ways of telling lies...


  10. Anonymous Coward

    hmm Great

    When we all have passports we can move to china, at least they don't pretend to be anything other that an commie dictatorship that crushes freespeech and freedom of expression.

    Mines the one with a biometric resurfacing tool in the pocket.

  11. ElFatbob

    So, Blunkett thinks...

    'that Labour has got the balance between liberty and security broadly right' ?


  12. David Hicks
    Black Helicopters

    Authoritarian arsehole

    The public hate the ID cards, so lets find a way around that and do what we want anyway, regardless of democratic will. Government for the people, eh? Don't make me laugh.

    Personally, I picked up a ten year passport just before the biometric ones came in and plan to be living in another country by the time I'd be forced to hand over my details to their central DB.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Only about 80% of Brits have a passport now, so we have to assume 20% never see a need for one because they don't want to go places where the water's funny.

    So how can you force people to have a passport if they have no intention of leaving the country?

    Or is Blunkett's big idea a return to his beloved model society of East Germany and we'll all need internal passports for travel?

  14. Joel Mansford

    But WHY?!

    Why do we need any kind of ID system?

    If it's for the benefits system then how about requiring some kind of ID for those on job-seekers, unemployed benefit? Oh - wait a minute we don't need one as don't those benefits go in to bank accounts now? And aren't those banks required to confirm the identities of those opening accounts - something I assume they are doing fine?

    I need a passport to go abroad so no issue there.

    If I'm a criminal (or was ever arrested!) then they have my fingerprints and DNA. Many forces have handheld finger print readers so that's that taken care of?

    So I guess it's the foreigners that are the issue? Is that it?

  15. Michael Jecks

    Blunkett's Baby

    The interesting point here is that Private Eye is the only paper I've seen which has pointed out Blunkett's interest in ID cards has little to do with the good of the public. It is more likely to have something to do with his being on the payroll of one of the companies seeking to profit by use of the ruddy things. He's always been disliked by comrades and others because of his control-freak tendencies, but this is much more to do with his own back pocket.

  16. b
    Thumb Down


    Is this old crook still given space in the media for his rambling nonsense?

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Come to blighty

    Isnt pushing compulsary passports just the same as pushing compulsary ID cards. But just having it all in one to make life easier for the blighties

  18. Sam Tana


    Does anyone take seriously anything that Bunko Blunkett has to say these days? If they ever did? The man's a balloon.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    compulsory passports

    There's another reason why this is attractive ... if ID cards are introduced then they will be able to be used for travel within EU in place of a passport - once people realise that to go to EU they only need a £30 ID card and not a £90 passport then a sizeable hole may appear in the IPS budget.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    In what way, shape, or form, can anyone consider that to be a U turn? Is the world really that daft?

    I'm already planning to tell the authorities what they can do with their ID card, and resigning myself to the fact that I am unlikely to apply for a new passport when my existing one runs out, thus being deprived on my right to travel, and now the suggestion is that I have to tell the authorities what they can do with a compulsory passport because they're possibly going to have incorporated the ID card into it?

    Who would have thought that the freedoms our ancestors fought for should be trod underground by the political elite so easily, with nary countrywide rioting in sight.

  21. Andus McCoatover

    Driving Licence??

    I can travel to any true EU country with just my photo driving licence. E.g., Finand <--> Germany, etc.

    (Which is why John Major's "Britain in the heart of Europe" still grates in my throat. Chest cancer - we don't need it. Which is why I don't regard Britain as a 'true European country'. Anyone recognise this symbol ? € - familiar??).

    erm, so why is the UK (AFAIK) the only cuntry europe-ish to still require a 'counterpart' for a driving licence? COUNTERPART???? WHF is that? Don't the plods know how to swipe the thing on their in-car readers, or is British technology so dumb that Gatso number-plate recognition - which earns far more - taken the money for relatively simple TETRA in-car systems?

    Why isn't this sufficient?

    Cunch of Bunts.

  22. Guy Herbert

    A sting in the tail

    "So how can you force people to have a passport if they have no intention of leaving the country?"

    Actually, you don't have to have a passport to leave the country at the moment - the Home Office has plans to change that. (See the draft 'codification' of immigration law, that just happens to remove some immemorial rights of citizens as well as established fair procedures for foreigners and suspected foreigners.) Then you'll need their permission, in effect, because the Home Secretary can revoke your passport or place you under a travel restriction order for multifarious reasons.

  23. Rick Byers
    Paris Hilton



    /ˈpæspɔrt, -poʊrt, ˈpɑs-/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [pas-pawrt, -pohrt, pahs-] Show IPA Pronunciation


    1. an official document issued by the government of a country to one of its citizens and, varying from country to country, authorizing travel to foreign countries and authenticating the bearer's identity, citizenship, right to protection while abroad, and right to reenter his or her native country.


    Nowhere in here does it say a passport is a state controlled database for keeping tabs on it's citizens, esp just to have internally.

    A government's duty is to ensure that a passport accurately depicts the identity of the person it is issued to, not to maintain (in perpetuity) a comprehensive background database on this person for any other purpose they see fit.

    Paris, 'cause we'll need an ID card to travel there soon.

  24. Martin Budden

    False choice between liberty and security

    Blunket says that "Labour has got the balance between liberty and security broadly right". He doesn't seem to understand that this is a false choice. Much of our security is derived from our liberty. It is possible to choose things that increase both our security and our liberty.

    Obama recognised this in his Inaugural Address:

    "As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals."

  25. W

    @Martin Budden

    Good comparison. Let's hear 'em again:

    David Blunkett: "Labour has got the balance between liberty and security broadly right"

    Barack Obama: "We reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals."

    Looks like them US-ians might have the clear high moral ground over us UK-ians for the first time in a while.

    Though to be fair, it's only relative really. Neither side of the special relationship has much to shout about when it comes to integrity.

  26. John Smith Gold badge

    Compulsory (internal) passort + NIR -> Identity card

    U turn my fat bottom.

    Nearly anyone with an IQ in double figures should spot this as a pile of pooh.

    Or as Meg Hitler the party stoodge for ID cards put it in her famously indiscrete comment in Parliment "Its like an internal passport."

    And we know who liked those.

    But no word on dumping the NIR. That might make have cradle-to-grave surveillance more difficult.

    Still you can't accuse him of going for the populist vote. That would have meant having nothing to do with this stupid ineffective idea in the first place.

  27. Steve Loughran

    Misses out on us with Irish Grandparents

    Anyone in the UK whose grandparents were born the north before 1921 also qualify for an irish passport, which means we get to tell blunkett to bugger off. the irony of the one ethnic group of people responsible for more terrorist activities in the UK than any other in the last 40 years does not escape me

  28. Justabloke

    the tighter they draw their nets...

    ... the easier it will be for crims to slip through the cracks... only normal everyday, law abiding folk will be troubled by this draconian semi dictatorship...

    A pox on them all!

    As for Blunket, he really should be the first against the wall... perhaps at the same time as Wacky J

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    What if you can't afford one?

    How can the government force a person to buy a passport if that person doesn't have the money to pay for it? Will people on income support/pension credit guarantee etc. get free passports? I very much doubt it!

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Sounds like a plan to me...

    2 problems, most countries you'd want to move to wont take you without a degree

    even then you'll probably need a job upfront and a big wedge of cash.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The man is an idiot.

    Someone should poke his eyes out.

  32. Nebulo

    Sorry, David

    Your database state by any other name smells just as vile.

    And you lot in the EU can stop smirking - you should be fighting all this crap the UK is trying to foist on you tooth and nail, not *implementing* it.

    As for "Labour has got the balance between liberty and security broadly right", tell that to Lord Chief Justice Goddard. He rightly said that 'the continuation of the wartime ID card scheme was "an annoyance to much of the public" and tended "to turn law-abiding subjects into law breakers"'. Mind you, that was in 1951, when he was giving the wartime, /non-biometric/ scheme its marching orders. The country was worth living in then.

  33. Andy Bright

    Wasn't this the original plan?

    I thought ID cards were tacked on to make it look a bit more voluntary and originally the plan was for everyone to use biometric passports as their national ID.

    Then someone mentioned that perhaps demanding your passport might look a tad similar to war movies where the Nazi guards would demand "Papers Please!" whenever they came across the good citizenry of Britain freshly escaped from concentration camps (one of our less glorious inventions btw - bet they don't teach that in History classes anymore).

    But fortunately I feel that a large number of the splendidly ignorant will simply refuse with wide ranging responses such as "Fuck orff I'm inglish innit" or "Fuck off yer suthern softy, I'll 'but yer if yer ask that agin".

    I have great faith in the British to give the two finger salute to this.

    Besides if it's compulsory are we going to stick people in jail for not being able to afford something now? A bit too close to debtors prison if you ask me and I guarantee that telling the population they HAVE to fork over 150 quid for a passport or face the consequences would see a change in government very, very quickly.

  34. Captain Hogwash
    Black Helicopters

    Compulsory passports...

    ...make conscription easier.

  35. kain preacher

    can sone please explain to me

    Whats with this sudden need for security ?? You folks across the pond survived the IRA with out the government going ape s--t. Prior to world trade center attacks the largest attack on us soil was the bombing in OKC. The government didnt go nuts locking up every disgruntle white guy that was ex military .

    What made 9/11 so different .

  36. Luther Blissett

    @Sam Tana

    > The man's a balloon.

    In contexts where this attribution is appropriate, I prefer the Old English synonym - bladder. As in taking the piss.

  37. Armus Squelprom

    The man's an utter tool

    Obviously trying to crawl his way back into a dying government, to refresh his credentials for more lucrative directorships. Still trying to sell this inexcusably oppressive and stupidly expensive wheeze as a benefit to the victims.

  38. Dave

    A pig just flew by... perhaps he's had a genuine change of heart and now realises that NuLab have gone too far and thinks it should backtrack and respect people's rights a bit more.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    Re: can sone please explain to me

    I take it you've forgotten the War of 1812, when the east coast of the USofA was invaded, and numerous buildings in Washington DC were sacked and burned? I think the adjusted-for-inflation damage from that was greater than Oklahoma City. I don't recall the casualties offhand, but they were probably greater as well.


  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They really must think we're thick

    It has never, ever been about the card, but always about the database(s). As long as something (tattoo, implanted chip, card, watermarking, etc etc) tells the pigs who we are, we're nailed.

    While we're all making out Jackboots Schmidt is the worst moron to occupy the Home Secs chair, we forget about what an unmitigated cretin Blunkett was.

  41. dreamingspire

    Passports and ID cards merged

    The 2006 change to the ID card project merged ID cards and passports, with the IPS database dominant and the DWP database to gradually merge with it as identification data gets confirmed. The mistake was not to follow other EU countries and EC policy by making the ID card an eID card, namely for secure use across the internet - our ID card doesn't carry the necessary digital signatures. Many people outside HO tried to get HO to understand, but without success. They still don't understand. What a waste those HO people are.

  42. dervheid

    @ Dave

    Nope, no flying pigs, no u-turn, and definitely NOT " had a genuine change of heart and now realises that NuLab have gone too far and thinks it should backtrack and respect people's rights a bit more"

    The is is just the same shit from a slightly different angle (it's all smoke & mirrors).

    The only way Bunkett & Co will have a change of heart is if they have the fuckers surgically removed.

  43. Mr Larrington


    It's a measure of how mad more recent The Home Secretaries have been that Blunkett sounds *almost* sensible.

    Not /actually/ sensible, obv. since the prime qualification to be a The Home Secretary under this lot seems to be the abilty to tick the box marked "Are you a complete fruitbat?" without having to lie.

  44. Anonymous Coward

    This man..

    is not to be trusted with anything!! I wouldnt let him empty our bin. The man is a complete weasel. This is an attempt to take over the protests about ID cards and the database and appear to be disagreeing while offering a solution that will make it seem more acceptable to the masses. It will change nothing. Nulabour flim flam, diversion,spin and deception by one of the greats. Dont be fooled.

  45. Britt Johnston


    The comments have now been published. I saw them in the guardian. I don't see the points most commenters were expecting. His premises:

    - privacy rights are often breached, but mainly by data collection businesses

    - misuse of the 2000 terrorist act by (local) offices

    - coroners and justice bill - daft name, though I'm all for justice for coroners - is well intentioned but open to abuse. However, he considers it misconceived that ID data will be misused, the point most heatedly disagreed with by database professionals here.

    - data should be retained where useful by the specialists, not in central silos

    Low points: He takes a gratuitous swipe at pontifs preaching big brother Britain, i.e. single voices rather than the obvious general unease, and denies we can judge how policed a state is. Here he conveniently ignores the idea of comparison over time - anyone can compare the past with the present efficiently, and most would agree official intrusion is increasing.

    He concludes that we have to challenge sophisticated means of monitoring and assert ourselves lest the mistakes of the past allow those in power to abuse their position.

    For me they are the right conclusions, I can't follow how he got there, though.

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