Lecturers defy government over ID cards

idcard1.jpgBy Anthea Lipsett | Lecturers voted overwhelmingly to oppose and defy the government’s plans to introduce identity cards at the University and College annual congress in Manchester today.The government plans to pilot the controversial identity cards with international students, which lecturers warned could deter them from choosing to study in the UK.

In January, the Tories accused the government of “blackmailing” students into holding identity cards in order to get student loans.

Dave Goode from Cambridge University, who proposed the motion that was passed, talked of the “horror and contempt” of identity cards and called on members to back the NO2ID campaign.

Mike Cushman, from the LSE, had led research into identity cards and called on members to oppose their introduction as “citizens and members of society, as trade union members and education trade union members”.

He said the Home Office would like society to believe that identity cards would “end terrorism … benefit fraud … illicit health service use … identity theft … and there would be no more queues and constant sunshine in Manchester”.

To applause he said the government wanted to “delegitimise dissent” and union members should fight back.

“We know it’s going to be piloted on non-EU international students – another barrier to students coming to our universities at a time when we’re facing greater international competition,” he said.

Malcolm Povey from Leeds University said: “We live in the most disciplined and rigid society throughout the history of human evolution. Every aspect of our lives is subject to control by the state. These cards are yet another step in this direction.

“To me, these cards will form part of the scapegoating and divisive agenda of government and employers. We’re already seeing this as a challenge to academic freedom.”

For instance, he said lecturers in Palestine would be subject to very strict controls if they were to get a job in the UK.