back to article Civil servants touted ID cards to friends, family as flop loomed

Civil servants were asked to encourage their family and friends to sign up for a now-defunct ID cards amid Whitehall fears the scheme would flop, confidential documents have revealed. The documents, reported today by the Daily Telegraph following a Freedom of Information Act request, show how senior officials were urged to act …


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  1. The Fuzzy Wotnot

    Well blow me down!

    You mean to say that all that money spent on advertising them as the one true ID to trump them all, did not work and did not draw punters in?

    Well I never!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    a totem of the last government indeed

    lacking support as insufficiently popular with the masses.

  3. Michael Souris


    They want a refund of £30 when it cost the rest of us over £22,000 to issue each card? I think not.

  4. Hollerith 1

    Dear Mr Burnham

    'many people' were in favour of them. About 13,000. Don't get over-excited, sir.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    lies and the lying liars who tell them?

    "I think they were a good idea and many people are still in favour of them," he lied.

    OK, Mr Burnham, name 20,000 people who are in favour then.

    Time to start making politicians put their hands in their own pockets to cover the cost of failed policies.

    "Happy New Year and thanks for paying for our f***-ups. Kind regards, Your MP. You have been charged £20.00 for this letter."

    Happy New Year El Reg & readers!

  6. Chemist

    "Andy Burnham".......defended the scheme"

    Oh good grief ! - in a deep hole and still digging !

  7. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    What is wrong with these people?

    They preside over what has been clearly shown to be to be Britain's most embarrassing, crushing government failure and STILL can't accept the fact.

    They persisted, in spite of warnings and very clear hostility from almost every source, yet won't even acknowledge that fact.

    What does it take to get them to accept reality? Or is that a flat impossibility?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      selective culpability

      Of course, these perp.s won't admit anything - they are Socialists!

      Their dogmas are all, and anyway socialists couldn't tell the truth even when it's a matter of life o death, let alone ethics.

      1. Steve Roper

        @selective culpability

        Gee, dat's raht Billy-Joe Bahb, dem damn' stinkin' pinko commie scum soash-ee-al-ists are gahddamn' ever'whur!

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The Tory-Lib Dem government are trying to make the cards a totem of what our government stood for - but I think they were a good idea and many people are still in favour of them," he said. ®

    Demonstrating his complete lack of understanding as to why it would and indeed did, fail..


  9. Andy Enderby 1

    title ?

    "The Tory-Lib Dem government are trying to make the cards a totem of what our government stood for - but I think they were a good idea and many people are still in favour of them," he said.

    Yeah, I think I have a handle on the people who think it's still a good idea. Andy Burnham, and 13,200 drones persuaded to pay for the damn things. Having said that, the taxpayers contribution to this amounts to more than £22121 per card issued.......In fairness, the utter write off of 292 million quid only occurs when the tories cancel the whole wrong headed scheme, which seems to have been entirely constructed to give money to the like of EDS.

    As for instructing civil servants to go out and persuade everyone they know to buy the things..... Just where the fuck do their bosses get off, have they no sense of decency ? er....... no......

  10. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    @The Fuzzy Wotnot

    Are you sure it's safe to use the second word in your title? You might get marked as being a potential bo^H^H person who uses rapidly expanding gasses to reduce objects to their constituent parts.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dear FRIEND,

    This is your dear friend NAME, (I spoke to you that one time);

    Anyway, let me give you the 411:

    I need you to submit your fingerprints and other pertninent details to the government. I know what you're thinking, "won't they just sell them to private security firms like they usually do?". No! Well probably not, I haven't checked or anything.

    Anyway, you probably ARE a criminal, otherwise you would be smart enough to work in the government like I do. (I deleted my name from the database LOL)

    So in closing,

    Get one of these cards you fucker.

    I know where you live,

    Your local MP.

  12. Avian

    Title? what title?

    "but I think they were a good idea"

    No fan of the ConLibs but while fools like Burnham spout such crap Labour clearly haven't got the message and in doing so not only are they a massive fail for themselves but they're denying the country an effective opposition that we desperately need.

  13. johnB

    A good idea ????

    What planet is he living on?

  14. gerryg

    losing my identity

    "The Tory-Lib Dem government are trying to make the cards a totem of what our government stood for - but I think they were a good idea and many people are still in favour of them," he said.

    fuck off

  15. Ally J

    Politically neutral?

    Is what I thought civil servants are meant to be. Surely encouraging them to sign up their friends and family to the ID card scheme sails very, very close to affecting that neutrality?

    1. James Boag
      Dead Vulture

      So I thought

      Until l posted a FOI request just asking how much the government expects to save on pensions by upping the pension age by a year (ie how many people who have paid into you dodgy financial scheme oh sorry TAX and NI will not collect any benefits by being unfortunate to die between the age of 65 and 66 ) Still waiting for a reply and you know that they have done the calculation before changing the law haven't they

    2. Graham Dawson Silver badge

      You're confusing politics and policy

      They're politically neutral in that they don't differentiate between their current and previous minister when it comes to implementing the policies of the Civil Service. One sap is as good as another.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Only 13,200?

    A recent story said 30,000 could potentially be demanding refunds, have they dealt with 17,000 of them already?

  17. kevin king


    the Daily Torygraph seem to have nabbed this story from the MEN exclusive...nothing like a bit of recycling over the christmas period.

  18. Somerset John

    HOW many in favour?

    Would this (economical with the truth) idiot care to enlighten us with how many of the "many in favour" there really are?

    1. P Saunders


      Why, his friends and family, of course.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @HOW many...

    As in "one, two, er... many"

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They were crap

    1. We already had (and still have) a national ID scheme called "The Passport".

    2. You couldn't get an ID card unless you already had a passport.

    3. It was nothing more than a monumental wealth redistribution scheme (and we're not talking wealth redistribution in the direction you might expect from a Labour government).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      ID in the form of a bit of plastic with a photo, name, d.o.b., a serial number and a statement that it confirms british nationality(and nothing more) isn't a bad idea-just like a driving license or a PASS logo card it would confirm age, but could also be used for travel within EU (as international regulations only allow passports or id cards to be used for this purpose). Of course it would need to be entirely voluntary.

      Such scheme would be much cheaper, could even share the database with the electoral register (a few more columns) and may get some more support. Oh, perhaps they can include a qualified certificate from government root ca to make it more useful.

      Wouldn't you at least consider getting it?

      1. Anonymous Coward

        can you guarantee

        a) that it remains voluntary

        b) that no-one has the right to stop me in the street to ask me if I'm carrying one

        c) that it doesn't become more convenient to have one than not have one (.e.g, collateral requirements, opening a bank account, access to services)

        d) that none of the above ever changes

        until then STFU

  21. Graham Marsden
    Big Brother

    "the cards a totem of what our government stood for"

    You mean a bunch of arrogant prats who would not listen to what people were telling them, who held "consultations" which were rigged to give the answers they wanted whilst ignoring any evidence to the contrary, who pi$$ed all over people's basic rights and freedoms in a vainglorious quest for more power, who believed that the Nanny State was the best way to go and that they were going to be benevolent Big Brother watching over us because we couldn't be trusted to act responsibly on our own...???

    Yes, that sounds *exactly* like what the last government stood for!

  22. Anonymous Coward

    Ed Miliband.

    Ed Miliband said that Labour need to look at their policies and stop blaming the voters for their defeat. Looks like some people haven't got the message.

    Yes Burnham, I'm looking at you.

    ID cards and their control freak attitude towards security is the main reason I refuse to even consider voting for Labour until they admit publically that they acted like a bunch of power crazed despots.

    So no vote from me in the foreseeable then.

  23. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Big Brother

    "The Tory-Lib Dem government are trying to make the cards a totem of what our government stood for"

    Well let's see how fair that is. Labor (certainly under Blair, pretty much under Brown) stood for:-

    A large database (ID Cards, Contactpoint, eBorders facial recognition to compare your photo against the whole Interpol mugshot database)on all entry ports) cure *all* social problems

    Cradle-to-grave surveillance is a *good* thing

    All citizens are potential criminals. It is therefor *vital* that we know *everything* about them all the time.

    Enormous government IT projects (with *very* poorly developed specs and vague scope) always come in on time and budget.

    Sound like ID cards are an *excellent* totem for the last Labor government.

  24. Anonymous John

    to undisclosed recipients

    Dear friends and relatives.

    Please apply for an ID card because of fears about the level of demand. And my annual bonus is at risk.

    Sir Humphrey.

    1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

      Humpey wouldn't put it like that.


      Dear friends and relatives,

      I am writing to you today to inform you of a necessary but regrettable action required to implement a reversal of an unforeseen oversight in the implementation of our government's policy on the Identity Card System. I am sure that you are well aware of the government's policy on the implementation of policies that have been improperly implemented, and I wish to assure the minister that his implementation of the policy implementation policy is being correctly managed and implemented, as per the policy on implementation. To this end it seems necessary that a policy of adopting informal non-standard implementation of this policy would be necessitated by this completely and totally regrettable non-implementation of the implementation policy so that this policy can be implemented as soon as is practically possible. To that end further it seems necessary that many of you may feel the need to support our minister by informally implementing a policy of informal implementation forthwith, towards said goal of implementing the informal and formal implementations of his policy by presenting yourself informally for a formal implementation of the informal policy at a convenient formal venue.

      Informally yours,

      Sir Humphrey Appleby pp The Minster for Administrative Affairs (and the Arts)

      ... or something like that.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is the refusal to to make refunds a stupidity tax?

    Subject says all.

    1. Gannon (J.) Dick

      Just Great

      Stupidity Tax ? No. It's the Holy Grail of Politics - a de post facto stupidity tax.

  26. Winkypop Silver badge

    National ID test

    The UK did very well, there are only 13,000 or so total-numpties.

  27. Furbian

    One blank piece of paper about to be soiled...

    Didn't the Labour leader say that his new policy document is a blank of piece of paper? Well this ex-minister seems to have ideas of what he wants on it already.

    Quite what does it take to get through someone's thick head that they are completely and utterly wrong. Grief.

    Problem is he'll still have his seat as people can only vote of parties, and not individual issues. Meanwhile I'll have to abstain due to a lack of choice...

  28. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    The LibCon replacement

    Since nobody wanted an id card do we get an ego card from the new lot?

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So why object?

    If Burnham really believes that many people are in favour of ID cards, then why does he object to the ConDems making them a "totem" of what Labour stood for? Surely he should be pleased...

  30. Arctic fox

    Some people never learn.

    Milliband did not have any choice about giving that chump a "job" in the current shadow cabinet because the places in the shadow cabinet are elected by the PLP. Burnham is an unreconstructed Blairite (although he would almost certainly deny it) and was undoubtedly boosted by those members of the PLP who have not quite worked out that times have changed - or, in teeth of the clear evidence, that the whole scheme was a political road accident.

  31. Sceptical Bastard

    Totems of illiberality

    So 13,200 issued cards wasted £292m? Unless my pocket calculator is malfunctioning, that is approx £22,121 - TWENTY-TWO THOUSAND QUID - for every card issued. Not exactly great value for money in a time of economic crisis was it?

    It might be tempting to dismiss the punters who paid for cards as fools or dupes. But even so it is disgraceful that a government effectively sold those poor bastards worthless goods and then refused to refund them.

    That creep Burnham still thinks that the failed ID card scheme was a 'good idea' eh? Perhaps he and the rest of his discredited and loathed colleagues still don't understand why we booted them out even though the only alternative was Cameron and his cronies.

  32. Skipraider

    Andy Burnham?

    Good grief, is that idiot Andy Burnham still around? Still spouting his ill-informed ideas about technologies he clearly has no understanding of?

    This is the Andy Burnham who thought internet censorship on a governmental level was a good idea (think of the children!) and entirely feasible.

    This is the Andy Burnham who claimed that the 'creators of the internet' (who dey? the US military?) deliberately set about to build The Internet as some kind of anarchist anti-government safe house.

    The man is a fool and no importance should be attached to anything he says.

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge


      "This is the Andy Burnham who thought internet censorship on a governmental level was a good idea (think of the children!) and entirely feasible."

      Sadly his replacement, Vaizey is no better.

      There's *something* about this role that seems to attract the technologically illiterate.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "This is the Andy Burnham who claimed that the 'creators of the internet' (who dey? the US military?) deliberately set about to build The Internet as some kind of anarchist anti-government safe house."

    Is he related to Sarah Palin ? or Michelle bachman ?

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "The Tory-Lib Dem government are trying to make the cards a totem of what our government stood for..."

    You were voted out of office Andy. Ask yourself if 13 years of resurrecting Stalinism might just have played a part in that downfall.

    "... - but I think they were a good idea and many people are still in favour of them,"

    I rather doubt your seatless, unemployable former colleagues are among them though.

  35. David Gale

    The entire architecture of secure government anything is flawed... and they know it

    The entire architecture of 'secure government anything' is flawed... and they know it.

    It's not like they haven't had plenty of warning:

    David Gale


  36. David Gale

    Same story, different day...

    Lest any of these party affiliated pundits get carried away, the same senior civil servants have ended up in the same positions following regime change. The pre-election window dressing was punted off into the long grass the week the Conservatives took power. The deal goes like this:

    "If you want contributions to your election funds from mainstream government IT suppliers, we'll let you trim back on contract costs so long as you don't fundamentally tinker with the way that public sector IT is delivered. If you went strategic, as you promised in the run up to the election, that would cost us £Billions. So, play safe. We'll support your 'cuts' as long as there's no underlying threat to the revenue model that exists around perpetually disjointed, tactical public sector IT."

  37. johnnytruant

    I wish I'd signed up for one now

    I'd have kept it in it's original packaging and it'd be worth a fortune on eBay in ten years time.

    No, wait, I'm probably thinking of Transformers.

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