Friday, March 17, 2006

ID Cards and the Emperor's New Ferrari

I got to thinking about the ID card farce this morning. The whole thing is a bit like the fairytale of the Emperor's new clothes.

The government decide they want a Ferrari, except that it will be a super-dooper, ultra new, world's best, with extra go-faster stripes Blairari. They're not sure what they're going to do with it but they just know it will help solve lots of problems because it's flash and expensive and will grab lots of headlines. At the same time the Prime Minister, a self confessed technology luddite, repeatedly admits he doesn't really know what a car is ('You know it's got those roundy things and..." - "What, you mean Polo mints?" - "Yeah something like that but bigger..." - "Erm, wheels...?" - "Oh is that what you call them...?).

Enter the good automotive people at the London School of Experts (LSE) plus 60 of their expert mates from around the world, to view the government's plans (and starting out by saying they think it is a good idea in principle for the government to have a car). The House of Lords also think it might be a good idea to have a discussion about the plans. Except the government are not prepared to show anyone their plans - they're "commercially sensitive" and they don't want those nasty dealers to find out how much they're prepared to spend (even though the prices of cars and automotive parts are widely available and those same dealers are the ones they are talking to about maybe designing the Blairari); and anyway they haven't decided what they want their Blairari to do or whether it needs those complicated 'wheel' things.

The LSE do work out the government are going to spend 4 times the price of a Ferrari on a dead horse (or probably a dead camel because it will have been designed by a committee) and a one-wheeled, woodworm-infested cart. They suggest that this might not be a good idea if the government really want the Blairari to go anywhere and offer an alternative - buy a real Ferrari for much less. The government go berserk and amongst other things make outrageous attacks on the personal integrity of one of the LSE experts in an attempt to undermine the LSE report. How dare anyone question their Blairari plans. They've promised the people a Blairari and that's what the people want and that's what they're going to get.

The only thing missing really is the two con men selling the magic, invisible, weightless clothes. The government don't need them. They've succeeded in conning themselves.

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