Why can't the Government conduct an open public debate on the Home Secretary David Blunkett's controversial Compulsory Biometric ID Card poll tax plans ?
Here is yet another apparent leak of letters between Cabinet Ministers to a favoured media organisation:
Cabinet revolt over ID cards by David Cracknell, Political Editor of the Sunday Times October 12, 2003. This front page headline article still manages to repeat the Government spin that the public consultation process "showed strong support", a claim which is simply false.
The Sunday Times has published the alleged text of letters from the Ministers Paul Boateng, Chief Secretary to the Treasury and Jack Straw, Secretary of State at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office.
The "further study required" tone of this letter seems to be pure Sir Humphrey Appleby("Yes Minister") e.g.
""There are a number of issues that the analysis must fully cover before your proposals are brought back to DA Committee in order to meet the minimum requirements for bringing policy proposals to Cabinet or its committees""
"it is worth noting that under a fully compulsory option, the charge for the card may be classified as a tax by the Office for National Statistics." - what else is a compulsory ?40 fee or charge paid to the Government, if it is not a poll tax ?
The recap and repetition of previous correspondence by Jack Straw seems to show that David Blunkett is not even responding to his Cabinet colleagues, let alone to public criticism of his vague plans:
"My minutes of 24 July and 9 September covered the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's key interests that I would want resolved prior to a decision in principle. I have not seen evidence that these have been taken into account. You may find it helpful if I go through them below"
One has to double check the dates on these alleged letters - it seems astonishing that the points raised by the Treasury and the FCO have not yet been addressed by the Home Office, despite the fact that David Blunkett started off this ID card debate in January 2002. It appears that the Government still has no clue as to what the precise objectives of the Compulsory ID Card scheme are, let alone the costs.
Given that the Foreign Office letter is apparently Protectively Marked as Confidential, this would appear to be a breach of the Official Secrets Act.
How can the Government be trusted with our personal details if they cannot be trusted to keep Official Secrets at the Cabinet Minister correspondence level ?
Will David Blunkett be launching a full espionage enquiry with all the resources available to him (including phone and email interception etc.) to find the leak, presumably in his own office ? How is this "leak" any less serious than the Dr. David Kelly debacle ?
Astonishingly, perhaps under the influence of the same technological ignorance as their columnist Minette Marrin, despite listing several arguments against ID Cards, the Sunday Times Leading Article: A creditable card nevertheless still somehow manages to claim that the vague plans so far apparently leaked are a good idea.
Are these "leaks" indicative of the new post Alastair Campbell official Government media spin machine incompetence ?
Why can't they simply trust the public to a fully informed open debate on a policy which will fundamentally affect every single person in the UK ?