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Lies, damned lies and statistics. Over 1000 people asked for ID cards – counted over TWO years

December 19, 2008

In a demonstration of the contempt for sensible interpretation of statistics which recently got the UK government into trouble for claiming that knife crime had fallen based on a sample of 78 incidents over three months, “Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has said that 1,142 messages from the public to the Identity and Passport Service (IPS) between November 2006 and October 2008 were classified as ‘wants an ID card’. This made ID-card requests “by far the most common subject matter”, Smith said in response to a parliamentary question from Liberal Democrats’ Home Affairs spokesperson Chris Huhne.

In real terms, that’s around 1.5 ‘messages’ a day. By contrast, up to 2 million people actively protested against the Iraq War in one day, but the government ignored them. Worse yet, Ms Smith admitted that “the IPS received 3,073 items of correspondence on the scheme between 1 November, 2006, and 31 October, 2008 but admitted that the IPS did not sort the correspondence according to support for or opposition to the scheme. (Thanks to ZD Net). So the erosion of democracy and slide into banal authoritarianism continues apace. We already know the endgame. We’ll get ID cards, the system will fail and vastly exceed its budget. The data warehousing will be managed at great expense by US companies. There will be huge breaches of security and fraud. But the statistics hold out a glimmer of hope.

At this rate of take-up, the government could save a huge amount by purchasing card-making kit and laminators and individually making up the identity cards. There are plenty of out-of-work folks who could help, taking photos of the 1100 people who definitely want an ID card and putting their names in a special ‘Loonytunes’ databank. Their psychological profiles identify them as prime targets to vote positively for any mad government initiative, volunteer for crazy scientific experiments, buy Jaguar cars and sign up for BT Broadband. So it’s not all doom and gloom.