Phil Booth (London, NO2ID): (I asked Phil who would be the best person to reply to his excellent post in OurKingdom about ID cards which responded to Billy Bragg saying that he wouldn't mind one if it had his Bill of Rights on the back. This is Phil's email back to me. Anthony Barnett) Ah, the old "who's actually for them" problem! TBH, we've had little joy with getting ID proponents to engage on a public platform. The best to date was Andy Burnham who, to give him his due, did turn up and field questions from the floor at Labour party conference fringe in '05 and, also, a few months later, he debated Peter Tatchell at a NO2ID event in Brighton. But he's now in DoH and Joan Ryan's a washout - very good at signing boilerplate letters to the local press, not so willing to open her mouth when NO2ID are actually in the room with her, as when we gave evidence to the UK Borders Bill Committee.
Tony McNulty actually booed me when he saw me in the Atrium bar (I kid you not) and I don't think John Reid will come out. Oddly, it might be something that Charles Clarke might do - though his recent polemic on Channel 4 seemed very tightly controlled. Martin Linton MP spoke up earlier this year, but only behind bars in a debate we had in HMP Wandsworth.
Of the civil servants, the one I respect the most is Stephen Harrison (now Head of Policy, IPS) who has addressed groups like the British Computer Society - but he's unlikely to debate the policy itself. Katherine Courtney (the ex-head of the ID cards programme) might just say something, but in my experience she's also not going to debate the principles. Top coppers who speak out now seem to be more sceptical than supportive - I always used to be up against someone from ACPO on radio debates, but not so much these days.
This is why I'd really prefer not to get into it with Billy - there's little point arguing amongst ourselves if the proponents won't even engage. We've always been about trying to build a broad opposition, regardless of ideology/political leanings. Scrapping about constitutional vs. legislative vs. practical safeguards in the absence of a proper debate would play right into the hands of the government. It's this absence of debate that makes me think that the remaining support for ID cards could actually be very soft. If no-one will stand up to defend 'em, I suspect that the only real proponents of the Home Office scheme are the Home Office themselves, and the knee-jerk authoritarians - neither of whom can conceive that they're wrong.