The Snow In The Summer or So-So

The Snow In The Summer or So-So

Fri 17 Mar 2006

Oh no, not more bogies!

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more. The latest round in the Second Pro-Celebrity Bogies Tournament, and joining me in the commentary box is ... well, no-one just yet. We were hoping to be graced by the presence of The Prize Idiot, but he's clearly been unable to find the commentary box. It's not as though I didn't put some large yellow arrows all over the building, but there's no underestimating this man's foolishness.

Ah well, the players are taking their positions, and we're just waiting for the speaker to drop his handkerchief and blow the proceedings open. First to speak, once more, will be Charles Clarke. It's a scandal that he's still in the Commons, given that he is refusing to talk to his constituents - and, indeed, claiming that priests are liars. Turns out that it's not only members of the clergy who Cdr. Clarke isn't talking to.

I have not spoken to the Information Commissioner recently.

And when Edward Garner (Celeb) said

He insists on repeating the canard that the biometric passport obligation has something to do with the national identity register system that he wishes to set up. The obligation under the biometric passport system is to provide a system whereby passport officers can read biometrics at the port of entry; it has nothing whatever to do with the entry into the national identity register system that this Government are trying to achieve by stealth. If only they would come clean, they would have a much more sympathetic audience.

Cdr. Clarke's response was brusque.

That is entirely wrong.

But the Cdr. was on stonier ground a moment later, when he raised the question of the constitutional status of his government.

It cannot be right for the constituents whom we represent to be denied by those whom they did not elect and cannot remove the most cost-effective option in implementing a scheme. That raises the question of whether the unelected House has the right directly to place such burdens on our constituents.

Does the elected House have a moral right to impose a burden on the 77% of people who did not support them at last year's election? Cdr. Clarke didn't consider this point before he wrapped.

David Davis led for the Celebrities, and posed a question of his own:

Later this year, the World Cup tournament will be held in Germany. When I travel there to support the England team, and I tell the German immigration office, "I've not brought my passport because the Home Secretary tells me it's voluntary," I am sure that that officer will be very understanding. When I am eventually let out of prison and I return to Britain, I am sure that I shall have no trouble getting back in without a passport.

In an intervention for the Professionals, Anne Snelgrove got to the crux of the matter.

I used to be an English teacher, so I shall give him an English lesson if that is what he wants. In our manifesto, we understood that ID cards would be "rolling out on a voluntary basis as people renewed their passports". We know what that means. If the right hon. Gentleman does not, that is his problem. The House of Lords should implement our proposals and allow the Bill to go through. Does he agree?

This whole debate, the entire game of Bogies, is not predicated on a difference of opinion about the meaning of the word "voluntary". It's predicated on different constructions of the famous clause "rolling out on a voluntary basis as people renewed their passports." Does "voluntary" modify "roll-out", as the Celebrities believe, or "renew their passports", as the Professionals wish to claim.

We need Susie Dent to adjudicate this one. Instead, here's John Bercow.

Does he accept that [Anne Snelgrove] has invented a new constitutional doctrine, that the purpose of a manifesto is not to communicate a clear message to the electorate, but to communicate internally to party colleagues in the doublespeak that only they understand?

...who tags David Davis again...

The latest argument is the ludicrous - I use that word advisedly - assertion by the Home Secretary that having an ID card will limit the intrusions of the state upon the person. That is an extraordinary argument. If that were not daft enough, the Home Secretary tells us that citizens will find having an ID card useful, and even valuable. The technology director of Microsoft, no less, pointed out that the identity register will be a honeypot for hackers, fraudsters, thieves and terrorists. It will worsen the risk of identity theft.

Covert compulsion has become necessary to the Government's ill-starred strategy, which is incompetent in design, ineffective in execution and deceitful in delivery; but that does not mean that it is not dangerous. The proposal will completely invert the relationship between the citizen and the state. As we saw from the statement that preceded the debate, the Government too often forget that they are the servant of the people, not the other way round. The right to my identity is held by me, not by the state. My right to my citizenship is my birthright, not the gift of the Government, and our right as British citizens to our liberty and privacy should not be carelessly thrown away.

...who tagged Mark Fisher, who is nominally on the Professionals' team.

When we eventually reach the stage of introducing primary legislation to make the scheme compulsory, he wants to be able to tell the House and the public, "Sixty per cent. of people in the UK already have an ID card. What are you worried about?" However, the only reason that 60 per cent. of people will have a card will be as a result of this back-door way of compelling them to have a card if they want a passport or a driving licence.

Even so, when the crunch came, the word was spoken. "Bogies", just loud enough to tickle the snot-o-meter.

And look who's arrived late - it's The Prize Idiot.

"Sorry I'm late, got distracted by other things. Liked Commandant Clarke's arguments a lot."

No surprises there. From the Prize Idiot, from the Bogies Commentary Box, it's goodbye ... for now. We shall be back.

posted 17 Mar 2006, 19.51 +0000

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