The Identity and Passport Service has confirmed that it will this week start issuing the first ‘National ID Cards’ to foreign nationals, with the objective of having 90% of foreign nationals in the UK registered by 2015.
I use the quotes on ‘National ID Cards’ since what is being issued here isn’t strictly an Identity Card – it’s a biometric visa issued under the UK Borders Act that just happens to look much like a National ID Card. It is not an Identity Card as defined in the Identity Cards Act, and there’s no National ID Register yet to hold the data – that’s still under construction.
I also think that publicising these cards as Identity Cards is a mistake on the part of the Home Office; it seems to be an attempt to please the tabloid media by appearing tough on foreigners at time when British jobs are under threat (the old immigration chestnut). However, over the next few years this means that the cards will, in the minds of those members of the public who have accepted that bit of spin, become associated with minority groups and those they see as ‘un-British’. When the rollout of full-blown ID cards kicks off, it’s not going to please those who see them as a badge of ‘un-Britishness’. Whether or not this is an appropriate strategy remains to be seen.