Quintidi le 5 frimaire, Hallmark Day


by David Moss

November 2008


Home Office press release:

ID cards are on time, and on budget
6 November 2008

The Home Secretary today announced significant progress in the national identity scheme, which will protect your identity in the most secure and convenient way.

In a speech today, hosted by the Social Market Foundation, she set out progress on the delivery of identity cards, and action taken to respond to issues raised by the public.

Intriguing. Progress is a stranger to the Identity & Passport Service (IPS). And yet here it is, progress, mentioned twice.

What progress? Your correspondent set out on a search ... and discovered:

The first identity cards will be issued to non-EEA foreign nationals from 25 November, with 40,000 expected to be in circulation by April 2009.

Alert observers have already noted that, whatever they are, these cards are not ID cards. Not in the sense of the Identity Cards Act 2006.

And mathematicians are chortling to themselves in their donnish way that they are not even the first non-identity cards. Did not David Blunkett himself tell us in July 2002 that? Yes, he did:

5.14 Asylum seekers are now being issued with Application Registration Cards (ARCs) which also include biometric information in the form of fingerprints. Asylum seekers present a particular problem in verifying identity as they often enter the country without any official documents such as passports and those they have may not be genuine. The fingerprinting of asylum seekers to a legal standard of proof (unlike that suggested for the entitlement card scheme) helps to ensure that an individual cannot make more than one application for asylum and that the fingerprint evidence can be used in court.

There are two elements of IPS’s unfamiliar progress:

1. ARCs have been extended from asylum seekers to cover non-EEA fiancé(e)s and non-EEA students.

2. They have been renamed “identity cards”.

This habit of renaming things is common to revolutionaries. The French revolutionaries, for example, renamed the entire calendar. The Home Office press release was made on 15 Brumaire according to this calendar, the day of the turkey. And the Home Secretary’s not-new non-ID cards will be issued starting on 5 Frimaire, the day of the pig.

Can we do better? Can we think of a better name for these 25 November cards?

WIBBI* there was a competition held over the next 10 days to devise a more fitting revolutionary name for these cards? That would be democratic. That would show that IPS are listening as well as delivering.

My entry is “Hallmark”, which would lend itself to the following typical locutions:

25 November 2008 was Hallmark Day.

Don’t forget to take your Hallmark with you to the bank – no Hallmark, no loan.

Must just nip down to the centre and have myself marked

The Hallmark of quality.

The Hallmark of pride ...

Shouldn’t be hard to do better than that – over to you.


* WIBBI = wouldn't it be better if

David Moss has spent six years campaigning against the Home Office's ID card scheme.

2008 Business Consultancy Services Ltd
on behalf of Dematerialised ID Ltd