Boris on liberty: the PM has always been against ID cards – until now

The PM has always been against ID cards… until now

10 April 2021

9:00 AM

10 April 2021

9:00 AM

‘I loathe the idea on principle. I never want to be commanded, by any emanation of the British state, to produce evidence of my identity.’
From the ‘personal notes’ on Boris Johnson’s website, February 2005

‘There is the loss of liberty, and the creepy reality that the state will use these cards — doubtless with the best possible intentions — to store all manner of detail about us, our habits, what benefits we may claim, and so on.’
Daily Telegraph, November 2004

‘The government would love to put issues such as these beyond the bounds of debate by creating an air of national emergency. As far as the Prime Minister is concerned, Britain is at war: with terrorists, muggers and fraudsters. Therefore exceptional measures are required and anyone questioning them is guilty of putting national security at risk. We do not share this analysis. We live in peacetime, and therefore the normal considerations of liberty apply.’
Leading article in The Spectator under Johnson’s editorship, November 2004

‘Boris has always been opposed to ID cards and now the party is fully with him on this; and what with the Lib Dems on board and Labour’s majority reduced, the result should be tight.’
Announcement on Boris Johnson’s website, June 2005

‘[ID cards are] recipes not just for waste but recipes for tyranny and oppression as well… I urge you all, by your votes at this forthcoming mayoral election, to show your displeasure at such a misconceived scheme and to give the government that has conceived it and the mayor that supports it the kick in the pants they so deserve.’
On the need to defy governments who propose ID cards (London campaign trail), May 2004

‘I will take that card out of my wallet and physically eat it in the presence of whatever emanation of the state has demanded that I produce it. If I am incapable of consuming it whole, I will masticate the card to the point of illegibility.’
Daily Telegraph, November 2004

‘Because the poor lobotomised Labour backbenchers were whipped in favour, there was never the slightest hope of stopping the [Identity Card] Bill. As it turned out, only a handful of principled Tories stuck up for liberty, and they were duly overwhelmed by the government.’
On the importance of Tory MPs rebelling to oppose the ID Card Bill, February 2005

‘It always suits governments so to scarify the population.’
Daily Telegraph, November 2004

‘It is perfectly obvious that the government intends these ID cards to one day be made compulsory. I want to make it clear that I will in no circumstances carry one and even were I compelled to do so, I would take it out and destroy it on the spot were I ever asked to produce it. It is a plastic poll tax that… will hugely expand the powers of the state over the individual.’
Press release the day after the Commons voted in favour of the government’s ID Card Bill, October 2005

‘I intend to keep up the fight in the media (and in places like this) and to ensure that when we have a Tory government, we scrap this expensive, illiberal, intrusive and almost certainly useless measure.’
Pledging to keep up the battle against ID cards, February 2005

‘The eternal tension at the heart of conservatism, between the desire for liberty and the desire for order, and, in the case of ID cards, the frail cockade of freedom has been emphatically crushed by the giant descending rump of matronly authority.’
Daily Telegraph, November 2004

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