In Your Face

In Your Face
Thought provoking opinions on topical issues.

Monday, July 07, 2003

A Poll Tax by Any Other Name

The UK government intends to introduce a national identity card for every adult living in the UK. The rationale, it argues, is the increase in perceived security threats to the UK since 9/11.

The government argues that is has strong public support for this, well it would wouldn’t it?

We are told that the cards will contain details of individuals; including a unique identifier, such as finger prints.

We are assured that our civil liberties will not be threatened, and that the card will not have to be carried 24 hours a day. That argument fails, by default; commercial enterprises, banks, airports, local government and other areas of daily life that an individual comes into contact with will all require the card as a proof of identity.

The introduction and administration of this scheme will naturally cost money; we are advised that a charge of £39 per head will cover these costs.

I don’t doubt that there will now be a spirited debate about the civil liberty implications of this scheme. I don’t intend to cover those issues in this article; save for the following observations:

 The UK is currently governed by a party with no core ideology, save the pursuit of power for its own sake.

 The government is obsessed by spin and presentation. Any criticism of it is robustly crushed, witness the current campaign against the BBC.

 There is no effective political opposition, save for the media.

The above points raise serious concerns about the future of democracy within the UK. I would venture to suggest that given these issues; any proposal, by this government, to introduce a national identity card should be viewed with great suspicion.

However, let us not ignore the other aspect of the proposal; the charge of £39. As I have noted in another article (
The Illusion of Increasing Property Values), this government is revenue greedy. This charge is another neat “stealth tax”.

Indeed since it will be levied on every adult (save for a few means tested exceptions), it is in fact the purest form of regressive poll tax that can be created.

The last time a poll tax was introduced in the UK, in the early nineties, the charge was based on the cost base of the citizen’s local council. Theoretically, the citizen could reduce the size of the poll tax by voting for a lower spending council. In reality, it didn’t work; poll tax bills soared, and Margaret Thatcher was ousted from office. The tax was repealed.

The version now being proposed offers no opportunity for electoral input. It is in effect taxation without representation.

In my opinion, this proposal must be resisted at all costs.

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