The Independent reports that yesterday’s Queen’s speech suggests that Johnson’s government will seek to make voter photographic identification mandatory.
This should, perhaps, be something that is completely unremarkable. After all, such ID has long been required in Northern Ireland, and in most European countries an identity card is required to be shown prior to voting.
But Northern Ireland has encountered specific fraud problems which needed to be countered – and I wonder now if they are still, in fact, needed. Mainland Europe has long been guided by the Roman and Napoleonic system where the individual needs to justify themselves to their government. The Anglo-Saxon approach (as the French would put it) has always been that the government needs to justify itself to its people.
That is, for me, the essential reason I am wary of ‘Europeanism’. (Though, I’d emphasise this is (or was) a wariness that many Europeans consider a progressive counterweight to their own traditions).
It is highly contrary – even ironic – that the government determined to separate us from the European concept wants to set up a state with a Napoleonic system of individual justification in order to be acknowledged as a member of your state of birth.
Of course the Conservative’s identity idea is not from mainland Europe, which they don’t understand at all. But, it is, for a US born Prime Minister, unsurprisingly, straight out of the US Republican’s playbook, which is decidedly worrying for an allegedly ‘one-nation’ Conservative government. Yet as long as such identification that is provided is, as in Northern Ireland, free, there is little realistically that can be done to oppose it – though I personally consider the changes, because indeed they are changes, could well be subject to human rights legal challenges. I cannot see how it could ever be argued that such identity justification improves human rights, only that it impedes them.
So we are leaving Europe but our own Napoleon is introducing Napoleonic systems just in case.
How very comforting…