Sir John Major, writing in the Times, criticises the ID cards scheme as part of a wide-ranging attack on the erosion of civil liberties under the Labour government:
But it is not only the case for 42 days detention that is bogus. So is the case for identity cards. They were to be voluntary. Now it is clear that they will be compulsory. Yet the Government has admitted that such cards would not have stopped the London bombers. Nor will they cut illegal immigration, since asylum-seekers have been obliged to carry ID cards for nearly eight years. Nor will they have any real impact on benefits fraud, as this is typically caused by misrepresentation of financial resources rather than by identity.
The Government has been saying, in a catchy, misleading piece of spin: “If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.” This is a demagogue’s trick. We do have something to fear - the total loss of privacy to an intrusive state with authoritarian tendencies.
This is not a United Kingdom that I recognise and Parliament should not accept it.
John Major may not have been a great PM in many people's view, but he makes a damned fine elder statesman.