Anger over identity cards

TOP councillor Harold Mangar today pledged to never carry an identity card – even if it becomes compulsory.And he received backing for his stand against the controversial cards from an unlikely source – Suffolk's chief constable.

TOP councillor Harold Mangar today pledged to never carry an identity card – even if it becomes compulsory.

And he received backing for his stand against the controversial cards from an unlikely source – Suffolk's chief constable.

Their comments came just two weeks after Home Secretary David Blunkett launched the first trials of identity cards.

Mr Mangar – who is an executive member on the borough council, former chairman of the county council and is a member of Suffolk Police Authority – felt the introduction of identity cards would be like introducing a system like apartheid into this country.

"I will never carry one, they were used in South Africa against black people.

"As a black man I am disturbed by what my government is doing," he told a meeting of the Ipswich and Suffolk Council for Racial Equality (ISCRE).

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Concerns about the proposed cards were also raised by Chief Constable Alastair McWhirter.

He said: "There is a concern that our first reaction will be to ask for identity cards rather than deal with the incident we are called for."

Their comments came amid a discussion led by director of JUSTICE, Roger Smith.

He said: "This is an issue which most people have a view on and it is a strong view.

"There are many arguments for and against but ultimately this is a cultural issue, do we accept these as a population or not?"

Mr Smith discussed the implementation in terms of a two-phase system, the first phase being the biometric updating of passports and driving licenses with voluntary identity cards introduced. The second phase would see these rolled out to the remaining population.

He added: "In the first phase there is no notion of mandatory identity cards, most people already have a passport or driving license.

"It will only be a problem with the 20 per cent of the population who do not have a driving license or passport. For this 20pc the proposal actually means something."

But for Mr Mangar, though biometric passports are acceptable, the notion of any identity cards is a step too far.

Asked if he would campaign against the cards, he said: "The answer to your question is I most probably would even if it was not compulsory to carry one. I believe if David Blunkett had his way we would have to have it on our person at all times but, in an attempt to get it

through he may settle for just having one."

The topic was discussed after growing fears that the card could be used as an entitlement card with those in certain groups asked to show their cards to prove their right to employment, education and health care.

n. Would you carry an ID card? Tell us your reasons by writing to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN.

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