It seems that my erstwhile MP is more famous since he stepped down than he ever was in action.  Unfortunately, his jumping ship to the LibDems doesn’t help me with my “Now who do I vote for?” dilemma.  If Mr Sedgmore was still standing in Hackney South and Shoreditch — for either party — I would happily vote for him.  As it is I have the choice between Meg Hillier for Labour and Gavin Baylis for the LibDems.

I emailed Meg Hillier via her website the other day, and yesterday she actually responded, I’m pleased to say.  You won’t be surprised to hear that I asked about her view on ID cards.  Her answer, unfortunately, was, “I’m toeing the party line.”

Not in so many words, of course; here’s what she actually wrote (in an attached MS Word document, rather than in the body of the email, for some weird reason):

This is now part of the Labour Party manifesto. I am a Labour candidate standing on a Labour Party manifesto. Had I drafted the manifesto it would have had a different focus on this issue.

Hmm.  So are you against it, or not?  She goes on to say:

There is a long way before current proposals become law, no doubt there will be an opportunity to influence change as the bill progresses through Parliament.

Fair point, but does that mean you’ll vote against it? And whether it does or not, can we afford to take the risk that such an attack on civil liberties could be passed in any form? To some extent I don’t fear ID cards and the database state under a Labour government — even New Labour — so much as I do under a possible future Tory government. Imagine for a moment if Britain had had such a setup during Thatcherism, when so many of us were campaigning against nuclear weapons or for the miners, and were generally actively against the government. Or how would MI5 have made use of tools like those, when they were undermining the Wilson and Callaghan governments?

Meg has more modern concerns, though:

I have been told that tackling identity theft and child protection would be better served with some form of ID card – I will be looking into this more.

I have been told that when we die we all go to a big palace in the clouds and have wings, but the baddies are still going to be able to forge or steal the cards.  In fact, I think it could make identity theft easier.  People — or at least, institutions — may come to have such faith in database-backed ID cards that the idea of one being in any way wrong will be quite literally unbelievable. The end result will be that, in order to steal someone’s identity, all you need to steal or fake is one card.  They introduce a single point of failure.

The next MP for Hackney South and Shoreditch concludes:

I have no problem with voluntary ID cards.

But it’s only short steps from “voluntary” to “voluntary but required if you want to use a bank account or leave the country” to “compulsory”, it seems to me.

I’m pleased to see that Gavin Baylis is a member of the London Cycling Campaign. Time for an email to him, I think. Followed in a week’s time by a cross in his box.