|About the Book|
Identity cards were introduced in Britain at the start of the Second World War, and were only abolished after a speed-limit breaking Liberal took a stand. Parliament legislated for football supporter ID cards as the Berlin Wall fell, but the plansMoreIdentity cards were introduced in Britain at the start of the Second World War, and were only abolished after a speed-limit breaking Liberal took a stand. Parliament legislated for football supporter ID cards as the Berlin Wall fell, but the plans helped eject Margaret Thatcher from power and were never used.Then from the early 1990s, the Conservatives under John Major then Tony Blair’s new Labour government developed plans for the national identity scheme, which would eventually have meant every Briton having to give the government numerous pieces of personal information, including their fingerprints, in return for a biometric ID card – and in most cases paying to do so.After a long struggle in Parliament, identity cards became law in 2006. But less than five years and more than quarter of a billion pounds later, the coalition government led by David Cameron – who dubbed identity cards “un-British” – destroyed it as one of its first acts of government. This is the story of how it happened.SA Mathieson covered identity cards from 2002 to 2011, mainly for the Guardian. He sat through overheated meetings and surreal press conferences, interviewed Mr Cameron when he first declared his opposition to the scheme in 2004 – and witnessed its destruction on an industrial estate in northern Essex.In Card declined, SA Mathieson traces the history of British ID cards from Second World War to the most recent scheme’s abolition. It features indecisive prime ministers, leaders of the opposition adopting comedy German accents, civil servants leaving secret plans in a junked filing cabinet and losing half the country’s personal data in the post, strident MPs, rhetorical peers, home secretaries resigning over fast-tracking a lover’s visa and a husband’s taste in on-demand adult entertainment, the intervention of the Pet Shop Boys, an identity minister losing her ID card on a promotional trip for ID cards and identity card holders being barred from ferries and chased through airports.This is the story of government ID cards in Britain from 1945 to 2011: a battle for British liberty that often descends into farce.