I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered. My life is my own.
I am not a number - I am a free man!
The Prisoner, cult 1960s UK television series
Welcome to my home page!
In 2010 a most remarkable thing happened. The UK abolished ID cards - and for a second time running! I know of no other country in the world that has done such an amazing thing, and so I think that the nation should be heartily applauded for it.
The previous New Labour government had for some strange reason come to the bizarre conclusion that people's human right to privacy was no longer of any importance. Pretty insane really, especially since politicians are usually the very first to squeal whenever their own privacy is threatened!
And so under Tony Blair Labour set about introducing its highly ambitious and enormously costly 'transformational government' project. At its heart this would require compulsory ID cards and the compulsory fingerprinting of the entire population, as well as the setting up of a huge database - the National Identity Register (NIR). Over a period of time the NIR would be progressively linked to all the big state databases: civil registration, education, income tax, health, welfare benefits, pensions, driving licence, criminal record, local authority, etc. etc. The resulting vast 'superdatabase', would then enable faceless state bureaucrats everywhere (and also inevitably criminal hackers everywhere) to have ready access to the most intimate confidential details of every citizen.
It would seem that the Labour politicians lacked the imagination, intelligence and plain common sense to grasp just how very dangerous such a development could be and how threatening to individual liberty. But seemingly overawed by the apparent limitless power of the computer and hoodwinked by slick IT salesmen they completely lost touch with reality.
Fortunately, this Orwellian authoritarian nightmare was stopped in its tracks when in May 2010 the Labour government lost power, to be replaced by the new coalition government, with its feet more firmly on the ground and its promise to "roll back Labour's surveillance state". True to its word it has thankfully abolished ID cards and destroyed the NIR, and this is, of course, a most encouraging start. However, other elements of the surveillance state, such as the centralisation of people's confidential health data, continue apace, and so the NO2ID campaign 'to stop the database state' must remain in full swing and be ever watchful.
As a pensioner who has always greatly valued and fought for the right to privacy, I continue to campaign against the frightening future that still continues to threaten everybody. As ever, the price of freedom is eternal vigilance.
NO2ID - the campaign against the database state
The National Entitlement Card - the Scottish ID cards scandal
For several years I ran Brainware Creative Learning workshop programmes for students at the University of Edinburgh. Recently, presented with the challenge of making the workshop materials readily available on the web I decided to structure these in the form of a clickable map based on the graphical design concepts developed by Harry Beck for his pioneering London Underground map. The result is the BrainWareMap, as illustrated. You can access this at: BrainWareMap for Creative Learning. When you reach the map, just click on 'Enter' and then 'Introduction'. Explore and enjoy!
- Dr John Anthony ("Tony") Welford
- I was born in West Hartlepool, Co. Durham, UK, and now live in Edinburgh.
- Education: West Hartlepool Grammar School, University of Leeds (BSc, Special Physics), Open University (PhD, Social Sciences - thesis abstract)
- Member of: Liberty, NO2ID, SEAD & STWC (links below)
- Interests: cinema, film-making (Edinburgh Films), stand-up comedy (Arnold Brown, Charlie Chuck), Edinburgh Festival, music (Parmont Players), genealogy, juggling, cycling, walking
john AT jwelford DOT demon DOT co DOT uk
Dr John Welford
18 February 2012