The Snow In The Summer or So-So

The Snow In The Summer or So-So

Tue 14 Mar 2006

Pro-Celebrity Bogies is back!

Goodness, is it that time of year again? After last year's sponsored event for Comic Relief, the Second Annual Pro-Celebrity Bogies! tournament is already under way, so let's hear the background from Raymond Newsreader.

"Good evening. Like all games of Bogies!, this one began very quietly. Charles Clarke is again leading for the Professionals, beginning in October with a modest but firm "We want to make identity cards compulsary, and to those who object, we say 'Bogies'." A score of 1.8 on the snotometer.

The Celebrity team is led by Lord Camberwell, and responded with a two-pronged attack in December. "Show your financial working," said Camberwell. "It's not going to be compulsary," said the newcomer Lord Fitch, before both said, in quite a loud bark, "Bogies." 2.7 there, raising the stakes.

Back to the professionals, Hazel Bleeurghs responded with a shrill, "Nay, nay, and thrice bogies." That advanced the game to 3.3, enough to get us interested.

Baroness Pifflepuffle came back with an interesting gambit last week, "We'll let you introduce them without a proper business plan, but they can't be compulsary, otherwise we shall creep up to the back of your, pick our noses, and deposit on the back of your neck some Booogies!" That was a 3.8 on the snotometer, and that's the news."

Raymond Newsreader, thank you. Joining me in the Snotters' Gallery is DCI Harry Batt.

"Evening all. The debate tonight looks like it'll centre around this statement, evidenced by Mr Blair in April of last year:

"We will introduce ID cards, including biometric data like fingerprints, backed up by a national register and rolling out initially on a voluntary basis as people renew their passports."

"Now, in his statement, Cdr. Charles Clarke - still leading for the Professionals - has said the following,"

Election manifestos cannot possibly deal with every detail of an existing policy, but it is clear to me that, in saying very explicitly that the roll-out would initially be on a voluntary basis, the manifesto refers to what has always been the Government's position, as Members on both sides of the House who have considered the matter carefully should acknowledge. That position is that the scheme will initially be based on a stand-alone identity card, issued on its own on a voluntary basis, or together with a document such as a passport, which is also issued on a voluntary basis. That seems to be clear and unequivocal.

Could you possibly repeat that?

"Not this side of midnight, squire. Costs, benefits, convenience and security, those are the headlines put forward by the Professionals. The details...

The Lords amendments would increase the cost of establishing the scheme because of the greater complexity of handling an optional service that would mean that some people could opt out of having an identity card when obtaining a passport... Reducing the speed of the roll-out of ID cards would slow down the wider benefits such as combating illegal immigration or improving the effectiveness of public services... It does not make sense to issue a biometric passport without the accompanying identity card

I'm sorry, did he seriously say that it made no sense to issue a passport without an ID card?

"Yes, that's what he said."

But that's complete buffoonery! The argument only holds if you accept the existence of an ID card in the first place, and wish it to become widespread. This is ridiculous, it's circular logic. Has the Prize Idiot been writing Cdr. Clarke's speeches again? Edward Garnier led the rebuttal for the Celebrities, with a fantastic soundbite:

One would have to be deaf or stupid to accede to the arguments advanced by him tonight.

And he goes on, as both sides are prone to do.

: They knew what "voluntary" means, but now they pretend it means something else... The Government have changed their reasons for supporting not only identity cards, but the national identity register, and they change their position on what they mean by "voluntary" and what they think that they mean by "compulsory" day by day.

The Government have said that identity cards will defeat terrorism, welfare fraud, general crime, immigration breaches and identity fraud. If that were the magic of this great scheme, they would not "let it roll out" over the next 10 years; they would have introduced it yesterday or the day before.

What will this exercise cost? Again, the Government have not a clue, and it shows. [Laughter.] It is interesting that they seem to think that this attempt fundamentally to change the relationship between citizen and state is a matter of risibility. The problem that they face is that they no longer have any understanding of the public, any understanding of what they are in business for, or any understanding of what this House is for. The longer they go on sniggering, the longer the public will find their arguments increasingly unattractive. Will this resistance to the Lords amendments make the national identity register and the identity cards scheme fit for purpose, to use a favourite phrase? They have not a clue, and the history of this legislation shows it. Do they know if and when, or how, these proposals will adversely affect the individual? They have not a clue, and if they do, they do not care.

Nick Clegg also spoke for the Celebrities.

How can the Government seriously ask us to believe that a scheme that could compel up to 80 per cent. of the British population to possess ID cards is voluntary? That is possible only if we all suspend our shared understanding of the English language. A Government who have built their reputation on spin are now reaching new heights of doublespeak.

Even John Drittsek-Gummer was shouting against the Professionals, and he's in favour of the ID concept.

I say to the Home Secretary very directly: no one outside this House believes you. No one thinks that what you say, as a translation of the Labour party manifesto, is what anyone else ever thought, and those on the Benches behind you do not believe it either, because they are honourable men who understand what the English language says.

Simon Hughes articulates what many of the Celebrities have been saying for the past year.

The Government may have a majority of Members in this place, but it has a lower share of the vote than any majority Government since 1832. It has no justification for complaining that the House at the other end of the Corridor should not do its job, and ensure that Government proposals that were not in the manifesto are stopped by the British Parliament. The House at the other end of the Corridor is the creation of this Government; it is put there by this Government; it is nominated by this Government; it is bought, in part, by this Government. The House at the other end of the Corridor is entirely a new Labour creation. The Government have a cheek to come here and tell us that, with their minimal moral and political authority, they must ask the House of Lords to reject a view that the House of Commons has passed, and insert another view.

And at the end of the day, it's Charles Clarke once more, shouting "Bogies" over a chorus of boos, to put a 3.9. Harry Batt, your thoughts?

"Not one person - not one person - joined Cdr. Clarke to speak in favour of the Professionals during this 50-minute debate. Eighteen people who are nominally members of the Professional team still break ranks. That's unprofessional, that's wimpish, that's ..."

That's democracy, Harry.

"Yeah."

Cheer up, mate, that scratching at the door and the whiff of vinegar can only mean one thing.

"Eeeh, 'allo!"

Here with our post-match fish and chip suppers, it's Next Door's Cat!

"Er..."

You don't mean...

"Yeah. The fish were, like, callin' out ter me. "Eat me! Eat me now". Er, sorry chaps."

"Stupid arguments and disloyalty in the ranks are one thing. Eating my fee for this appearance is another, catty. You're nicked!"

There will be more Pro-Celebrity Bogies, with piss-poor references to Bungalow characters, very soon. Mmm, nice chips.

posted 14 Mar 2006, 18.50 +0000

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