Thursday, 29 October 2009

More on Manchester

The reason for the day of action at Manchester was that this city and region have been chosen by the government for the introduction of the ID card scheme. The format was very simple, in Birmingham we have a table in the city to collect signatures for the petition and hand out leaflets. In Manchester there would be many tables all around the city then a public meeting. Finally in Albert Square, the main square of Manchester, a fake ID card with Gordon Brown's image would be burnt and this would be filmed by a TV crew.

The people from Birmingham were allotted a table site close by Albert Square and the Arndale Shopping Centre. The NO2ID day of action came in the middle of two other events, a book fair and a comedy festival. Our table site was in a pedestrian only area and we shared it with a high class comedy act. It is fair to say the man juggling while balanced on the top of a ladder drew the bigger crowd, but they had to walk past us to get to him! If you have helped on the campaign work in Birmingham then the comments and questions in Manchester would not have surprised you.

The accents were different but the concerns and the anger were the same. Despite a multitude of tables across the city our site did well. At the allotted hour we packed up and trooped back to the Quaker Friends Meeting Hall to hear the speeches from Christina Zaba and Phil Booth. The distillation of their comments is that this is a foolish scheme technically and a gross intrusion of our liberties. Nobody with a knowledge of IT or government can think of a single problem this scheme solves. In fact it creates problems that will, in time, demand resolution. What sort of madness is that?

There is, however, some progress being made. Only a few years ago 80% of the population were broadly supportive of an ID card scheme, now it's 60% against. It would be wrong of NO2ID to claim all of the credit here. There is a saying generally attributed to Abraham Lincoln -

“You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.”

Lincoln believed in democracy, the only way to get ID cards and the attendant database into UK law is to take an anti-democratic route and risk social upheaval as a result. The UK population are no longer fooled by this crazy idea.

By the time the Birmingham people got home it had been a 14 hour day, but worth it.

So there you have it, the anatomy of a day of action. If any students at a Midlands' college would like to start their own NO2ID group then please contact the Birmingham University group, Students against Surveillance (SAS). They can be reached through their facebook, or contact the Birmingham NO2ID group, we can help you. It's a vital and worthwhile cause, there is also an element of fun!

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