A good day to bury bad news

Government: Look! Over there! It’s Blair! He’s finally resigning!

*everybody runs over to listen to Blair’s speech*

*government waits until everyone’s out of earshot*

Government (whispering): The ID card system’s going to cost another half billion.

Ah, ID cards. Remember them? They were going to cost £3.1 billion and save us all from everything. The official cost’s gone up to £5.5 billion now, and it would have been higher still if the Home Office hadn’t palmed off a half-billion in costs to the Foreign Office so they’re no longer included in the total.

It’s worth noting that the £5.5 billion is the official cost, which no sane person believes is anywhere close to the real cost of this shambles.

It’s also worth noting that by delaying the announcement, the government broke the law: Section 37 of the Identity Cards Act 2006, to be precise, which says the announcements should be “before the end of every six months” – so these figures should have been out in early April.

Let’s recap, shall we?

  • Every justification for an ID card system – terrorism, identity fraud, immigration etc – has been comprehensively debunked.
  • In IT terms, the government couldn’t hit a cow’s arse with a banjo. This will be the most ambitious IT project the government has ever attempted.
  • When the government embarked on its initial public consultation about ID cards, 5,000-odd concerned anti-ID petitions were lumped together as a single complaint from (I assume) a Mr Internet, enabling the Home Office to claim widespread public support.
  • The official figures – which no sane person believes – are already spiralling out of control to the tune of a billion quid per year.
  • A few years back the government angrily denied claims that the ID card system would cost £6 billion. If trends continue, the official cost of the ID card system will hit £6 billion in October.
  • If it thinks doing so could help avoid anti-ID card publicity, the government will cheerfully break the law.

And yet despite all this, the anti-ID crowd think it’s going to be an expensive disaster! The fools!