You remember the UK ID card farrago?
Our beloved government decided that ID cards were a good idea, and was somewhat shocked by the strength and consistency of the objections from all quarters. Despite various nasty tricks -- like counting thousands of online objections as just one response -- the message got through that almost nobody thought they were a good idea. Expensive, error-prone and time-consuming nonsense was the verdict -- and as for solving the problems of terrorism and crime, they'd do little of use. That's before the civil liberties issues they create. The Gov licked its wounds and went quiet.
But now, magically, they're back on the agenda. The civil liberties issues have been solved, says Blunkett, and events such as the Madrid bombings show the importance of getting them off the ground at once. We have four weeks before the Bill is published.
Pardon? Did I miss that re-education seminar? What the hell is the man talking about? I've seen zero -- as in none, as in the square root of flip-all -- discussion of the civil liberties issues from the powers that be, let alone some marvellous solution that's got everyone in agreement. As for the terrible events in Madrid, this must count as one of the most cynical and wrong-minded pieces of spin this year. Not only is it an execrable piece of manipulation, the Spanish have had ID cards for many years and look what good it did. Hell, if you want to find out for yourself you can buy one online for $90 and see whether it makes you any more law-abiding. The only developments since the last time they tried it on has been a flurry of reports about government IT projects, pointing out just how badly they tend to go wrong.
Couple that with that most peculiar scare story -- osmium tetroxide, an obscure and extremely expensive lab reagent, as a chemical weapon? Why, when you can buy sodium cyanide in bulk? -- which doesn't hold up for a moment's sceptical examination, and one has to conclude that something rather odd is in the air. Well, osmium is named after the Greek word "osma" -- stink.
I know; it's wearing trying to keep the outrage going when there's no shortage of places to spend it. But once more, with feeling.