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Curse of Blunkett strikes Home Office minister

Government mounts live test of 'fool-proof' ID system

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Joan Ryan, Home Office junior minister i/c ID cards, has not exactly gained glowing reviews of her performance defending the wretched things in the Commons yesterday. And on top of all that hard-won opprobrium, she seems to have inadvertently called down the Curse of Blunkett on herself.

The Curse of Blunkett is one of the most closely-monitored files in The Register's Department of Mispeaks & Hostages to Fortune. the Evil One may not have been a Minister for some time, and may not have been Home Secretary for longer than that, but in addition to the large numbers of departmental unexploded bombs he left behind (Prison overcrowding - Thud! Control orders - Kaboom! Immigration policy - Whump!) he has said the the most incredible numbers of crackers, reckless and certifiable things in his time. And the scribes at the Dept of Mispeaks have noted many of these carefully, and consigned them to the cellars to mature.

So, yesterday. Tory Home Affairs spokesman David Davis asked Ryan, "can the Minister guarantee that the ID card will be 100 per cent secure against fraud - yes or no?"

Ryan responded: "The right hon. Gentleman might next blame burglary on burglar alarms. It is a ridiculous contention. Can anybody say that anything is 100 per cent. secure? Opposition Members would have every reason to be sceptical if any Minister made such a claim."

Fair enough (apart from the weird bit about burglar alarms, that is)? Can anybody say that anything is 100 per cent secure? Well, step forward David Blunkett, Home Secretary as was on 11th November 2003. Speaking on the Today programme, Blunkett said that biometric identifiers on ID "will make identity theft and multiple identity impossible, not nearly impossible, impossible." We will grant you that he was not directly speaking about security there, but it clearly relates. And anyway, Ryan wasn't speaking about security either yesterday, she was speaking about "anything". And there we have two 100 per cent anythings claimed by Blunkett - we even get extra points for them being ID card anythings. As we said at the time, "That one's tougher to stand up than you think, David, and we're going to hold you to it."

So thank you Joan, we did. Enjoy your accursed status.

Reidwatch We've been meaning to cheer everybody up with this one for a couple of days now. From The Guardian Corrections & Clarifications, 10th July 2006: "In a report headed Reid agrees British hacker can be deported for US trial, we confused the home secretary, John Reid, with the hacker, Gary McKinnon, at one point. We said: 'The case dates back to 2001, when it is alleged Mr Reid logged on from his home in Wood Green, north London, and hacked into computers belonging to the Pentagon...' It is Mr McKinnon, of course, against whom the allegations are directed." Suddenly, one sees circumstances in which the US-UK extradition treaty's speedy deportation features might be a good idea after all. Ah, if only... ®

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