Readers' letters: Digital ID cards are a charter for state snooping

Tony Blair and William Hague are pushing for everyone in the UK to hold a “digital ID card”. The aim, they say, is for the cards to “allow people to prove their identity, age, driving licence, right to live and work in the UK and even their educational qualifications”. Eminently sensible, some would say. These cards would mean that you could prove your identity or entitlement to many services and possibly even use them in place of a passport. Just one little card.

Of course, in other countries, such as China, facial recognition software is routinely used to identify members of the public and arrest them if they are deemed to have infringed the law, or to have spoken out of turn. Such a card as Hague and Blair want could hold biometric information, of course, as well.

One could add in iris recognition for similar purposes of establishing ID. Add in fingerprints too, natch. Since Covid the use of credit and debit cards is pushing cash into minority use, so, with ready money disappearing, all your economic activity will be a matter of public record and you could be tracked quite easily.

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As the UK already has one of the most widely distributed CCTV networks in the world and telephone calls and internet usage are already being snooped on by our security services, snooping could become – and probably is – ubiquitous. All the means by which the people of the UK could be controlled and monitored would be in place.

Tony Blair (pictured) and William Hague have called for the introduction of digital ID cardsTony Blair (pictured) and William Hague have called for the introduction of digital ID cards
Tony Blair (pictured) and William Hague have called for the introduction of digital ID cards

I am glad that neither gentleman is still active in government.

​Andrew HN Gray, Edinburgh

Hacked off

Why are Tony Blair and William Hague so keen to spy on us? Now the pair dig up the corpse of David Blunkett’s lunatic ID card scheme and threaten us with it once again, using the on-trend word “digital”. The London School of Economics estimated the set-up costs of Blunkett’s scheme at £12 billion. How many hospitals will Blair and Hague close, how many pensioners left cold, to inflict upon us a system that will be hacked as easily as a minister’s phone?

Instead of listening to washed-up politicians pretending to understand the modern age, check out worldwide web creator Tim Berners-Lee, who really does know what he's talking about. He wants decentralised digital data under personal control, not a mammoth centralised database. And he knows how to do it, too.

Tony Blair has discredited himself by dragging Britain into wasted wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, while William Hague claims he used to drink 14 pints a day. By lining up with Blair it seems he still does.

Barry Tighe, London


On glancing at Murdo Fraser’s article (Scotsman, 22 February), I felt I just had to congratulate a politician for publicly having so much self-awareness.

It was only on a double take, however, that I realised that the headline “…one of total failure” was not applying to him. Oh well, the wait goes on.

Mike Shand, Elgin, Moray

The dam is burst

Instead of the orderly transition from one leader to the next envisaged no doubt by the First Minister, all hell appears to have broken loose in the SNP. It is almost as if pent-up instincts and emotions, held under a tight party leash for many years, are suddenly free and the dam is breached and a couple of brave souls have actually expressed what they think publicly.

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Yet even at this early stage it is must puzzle many – why did the First Minister go out on a limb on the trans issue and in particular on the trans prisoner issue? The abiding memory for many of her period in office will be of her stammering and stumbling and trying to gain control when asked about the pronouns she used for the double rapist in the women’s prison. Surely it was the time for remaining on her tried and tested let’s-break-up-the-UK routines? What could possibly have possessed her to veer off into this uncharted and very dangerous water and watch as her once watertight party is descending into a rabble?

Perhaps she does not know herself.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh

True tolerance

I am disappointed, though not surprised, by the outburst of criticism of Kate Forbes and her determination to be open about her commitment to Christian principles in politics. It is refreshing to see such honesty and integrity in a politician when faced with difficult questions. If one reads her statements with an open mind, it seems to me that she is much more supportive of freedom of thought and expression in a democratic society than her critics who try to force their ideological views on others or else suppress their religious beliefs in order to win approval.

Ms Forbes has made it clear that, although she disagrees with same-sex marriage, she upholds the law as it stands. With regard to Gender Recognition Reform her criticism of the present obviously flawed Bill is shared by many of different religious, political and ideological persuasions. Possibly if a suitably amended Bill were to be passed in parliament she would abide by the decision. This would be my own position and quite defensible.

I am reminded of Joseph and Daniel, whose stories are recorded in the Bible. They were faithful Jews in captivity, yet served heathen dictators, Pharaoh and Nebuchadnezzar respectively. They were trusted for their wisdom, integrity and honesty, though they sometimes spoke unwelcome truth to power.

Unlike the United States, evangelical Christians in Scotland are not uniformly right wing and there is a variety of political views. I am not an SNP supporter and the current treatment of Kate Forbes has put me off it even more.

Let’s have true tolerance and open, respectful debate in public life.

(Rev Dr) Donald M MacDonald, Edinburgh

Faith in future

It’s indeed a sad reflection that, in a so-called religious nation, a Christian and a Muslim have to justify their faiths in the SNP leadership contest.

Both Kate Forbes and Hamza Yousaf are excellent political leaders and stand together for independence, the NHS and the cost-of-living crisis. Their religious views should never be a disadvantage within the secular political process.

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The endless cacophony of media questions about whether Kate Forbes’ Christian faith conflicts with SNP policies is totally fraudulent. In accepting that her views are scrutinised she has said, many times, that following debate she stands by collective responsibility on SNP government decisions, as democracy demands.

As the weeks pass the leadership qualities of Kate Forbes will develop along direct and inspirational lines. In bringing a fresh, strong and honest approach to the good governance of Scotland, she will fight poverty and inequality, uphold climate change policies and human rights and above all bring together a successful independence movement.

Grant Frazer, Newtonmore, Highland

Shameful attitude

I am old enough to remember when persons who were open about being affected by homosexuality were excluded from being candidates, at any level, in political parties, and so am very concerned that this is now happening again with persons who are open about their faith. What kind of democracy do we live in where significant numbers of persons are now disenfranchised and excluded because of their faith?

The UK Equality Act 2010 protects people from discrimination in wider society including on the basis of gender reassignment, race, religion, sexual orientation, and marriage. It is therefore just as unacceptable to be “faithist” as as it is to be homophobic, transphobic and racist in Scotland. This means that we should learn to live together in a modern democracy and agree that any form of exclusion of certain groups reflects an intolerant, shameful, anti-progressive, and unacceptable attitude.

Calum MacKellar, Edinburgh

Doomed to fail

The only logical explanation that I can think of as to why Nicola Sturgeon would wish that Hamza Yousaf be elected the new leader of the Nationalists is that it would make her look good.

This merchant of incompetence is completely out of his depth having failed in every job he has occupied – but I do understand why the Conservative and Labour parties would welcome his possible elevation.

Robert Finlay, Burntisland, Fife

Heat and light

Prime Minister’s Questions is often a very heated time in the House of Commons and this week’s was no exception But interestingly, this time it was not just heated, it was informative (Scotsman, 23 February).

The leader of the SNP at Westminster, Stephen Flynn, informed members and the country that wholesale gas prices had fallen by a whopping 75 per cent since their peak, yet in a matter of weeks (April) the Westminster government is planning rises to household energy costs, with the Energy Price Guarantee rising by £500 to £3,000. This figure is the cap for the typical households paying their energy costs by direct debit. Unfortunately those on pre-payment meters are not covered by the cap.

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This 75 per cent drop in wholesale gas prices has netted the UK Treasury around £15 billion and Mr Flynn, in recognising this windfall, called for the UK Government to extend the energy support scheme with assistance for all households.

Unfortunately, the Prime Minister’s reply indicated that energy cost are irrelevant to the people of Scotland and that the SNP should concentrate on issues that matter to the people of Scotland! Do energy costs not matter to households in Scotland?

Catriona C Clark

Banknock, Falkirk

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