"We'd love to find the dangerous criminals we've accidentally released from prison", says the Home Office, "but we can't find them on the police computer." "We'd love to MOT your car," says the garage, "but the Department of Transport system's down and nobody's saying why." "The NHS IT project is going to lose us $450m (£252m)," says Accenture, "because so much of it is late and people are going elsewhere." What, no love?
Yes! These are the people I want to run a national ID database. These are the qualifications that count, the experience that matters, the guarantee of efficiency, safety and responsibility that means the nation's biggest, most expensive and curiously least-well specified project will do us good.
I'm particularly impressed that now the law's through, Charles Clarke is confident enough to move on from the old, under-performing specification of "no medical information will be included on the database" to "medical information will be included on the database. Voluntarily." — and I have every expectation that "voluntarily" will come to mean what it does for the cards themselves: compulsory in every sense that matters.
Something that puzzles me, though. All those foreign prisoners who were let go instead of being considered for deportation — lots of them are apparently untraceable because they gave false nationalities. I know it's a shock that criminals might lie, on top of everything else, but apparently they do. So if someone claims to be a foreigner from, say, Papua New Guinea, when challenged for their ID card, what happens? Silly of me to wonder, of course, the ID card people are bound to have thought of that — and if they haven't, they can ask the Prison Service how they coped with the problem.
And with that, it's another bank holiday. This weekend, I think I'll pretend to be called Jeremy Thompson, the Irish son of two English ex-pats who moved to Cork in the 1960s. I used to work in the travel industry, but started a little IT consultancy of my own specialising in ticketing systems. You never know when you need a good back story — and it's never too soon to start.