30 June 2008
Public opinion is split 50:50 on ID cards if asked a fair question; but ask people about the database that is the raison d’être for the National Identity Scheme, and opinion is two-to-one against. These are the findings of an ICM poll conducted for NO2ID last week .
NO2ID  has been periodically asking the identical unbiased question about “ID cards” since June 2005 – an approach described by UK Polling Report as “admirable”. During that time support for the idea has steadily declined to 48%.
But as an experiment this time round they asked a second question, also designed to be fair, which did not mention ID cards but did describe the National Identity Register on which the scheme is to be built. The result? 63% of the public is opposed to the substance of the National Identity Scheme.
NO2ID recommends people look very closely at how the Home Office gets its nominally positive ratings for the scheme in its ‘tracking studies’ .
Phil Booth, NO2ID National Coordinator, said:
Unlike the IPS we can’t afford to waste money on spin dressed-up as a poll. We care what people really think. We are trying to persuade them, not con them.
What’s fascinating here is that we asked the public two different-seeming questions that are about the same thing. One aspect, the card itself, bothers substantial numbers of people but not a big majority. But the more important part of the scheme – government collecting and collating information about us for its convenience – is just massively unpopular.
Campaigning experience suggests that the more people know about the ID scheme, the more they dislike it. Now here is some solid evidence that it is true.
Notes for editors:
1) ICM Research interviewed a random sample of 1007 adults aged 18+ by telephone between June 25th-26th 2008. Interviews were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults. ICM is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Further information at www.icmresearch.co.uk
Given the statement “The Government has proposed the introduction of identity cards that, in combination with your passport, will cost around £93″, 48% of people said they thought this was a good idea, 46% said it was a bad idea.
Asked “You may have heard that the government intends to collect information about citizens and store it on large computer systems which can then be used for a wide range of purposes. Do you think storing information and sharing it between different parts of government in this way is a… [good / bad idea]?”
Only 35% of people thought this was a good idea, while 63% thought it was a bad idea.
2) NO2ID is the UK-wide non-partisan campaign against ID cards and the database state. See http://www.no2id.net/dbstate.php for a list of some of the ‘database state’ initiatives that NO2ID is actively opposing.
3) The Home Office ‘tracking studies’ do not conform to BPC standards. They do not publish what questions were asked – NO2ID only managed to get copies using the Freedom of Information Act. Nor do they publish the results data.