The Fundamental Right

There’s not many things in the world that my youthful left wing activism and idealism kicks in for nowadays.  This isn’t to say that I was a massive preachy lefty, I wasn’t.  But I did believe when I was younger in a much higher UK minimum wage, much much higher taxation, free higher education (although on a means of merit tougher than currently).  Based on the belief that this would help society, that these actions would make it a better world to live in.  True idealism.

I am still an idealist in my politics, politicians have some mundane and compromising things to do, but those who would love to answer those big questions – where will our energy come from, how big can and should the world’s population  be and even considering those catastrophes such as asteroid impacts and supervolcanoes that will happen at some point in the Earth’s future and it could be tomorrow  – these politicians get my respect.  We all wish that Barack Obama could do more, but the ambition to deliver more is the reward in itself and work as hard as one can for that is commendable enough.

With how I believe, I wouldn’t say my views have weakened, more that they have mellowed.  I’ve felt university for me was a great chance to explore and discuss my ideas and concerns about the world, with people for a change who knew more than me about it.  I’ve learnt more about representation too, and how to find other people’s opinions and work with them, for all people.  This isn’t compromise, this is delivering action.  I’ve changed that I would like now more to change the world a little bit and in a direction I think is better than current, than have what I think is a perfect idea but never see it to fruition.  Similar to Barack one could say…but even I’m not that great at politics!

There is one thing though that I have not compromised on since those days and it is this.  I believe in a 21st Century Western country the most fundamental right one person can ever have is a legitimate identification.  It’s something that I realized again, as I once more found the Swedish banks frustrating beyond belief.  They currently want me to go into the bank for every transaction I make for 6 months, and try and charge me each time for doing so, bastards (I will never say bad things about RBS ever again).  They seem so unprofessional and slow and although lovely staff, owning a bank in Sweden must be one of the easiest businesses to run in the world.

I decided to go to the other banks, who despite my passport weren’t interested in having me as a customer as I lacked Swedish ID.  Which is at least the cost of a passport in the UK I believe.   Given this would take many many weeks to get again, do these fools not realize how much custom they lose.  I will hold my head in shame if we treat people like this in the UK.

But here is the issue.  Having identity is such a fundamental thing to have.  We need it at the bank (and as I need to be paid into a bank account in Sweden, a bank account is essential), we need it to buy alcohol (not a good example, but the only other time I’ve used it here, today in fact, and the cashier was breathtakingly fit, but anyway), we need it to show police, council workers, we need it to apply for jobs.  And yet, it is something, reasonably expensive, we all need to purchase.

This is wrong on so many levels, to open any society we need to prioritise a method of allowing somebody to be involved as soon as possible.  It is no surprise immigrant communities have trouble integrating into society if they cannot function in society.

It was with excitement I heard from Tony Blair when he announced that the Labour government were going to bring in ID Cards.  It was to my dismay that I saw these cards would be again expensive for the individual and not deliver that promise of an ID suitable for all.  It was scrapped for being worthless, sadly a good thing.

Yet the UK has had free ID.  We did, and I hope we still do.  Each 16 year old in the United Kingdom can get a Connexions Card, I had one, with the official UK approved PASS symbol, as an identification.  You can apply for a citizens card, which looks completely naff, but again is free ID.  Both of these are barely accepted in the UK.  The government has not the work to publicise these, to encourage their use and to make them safe, and businesses barely accept.  It is a sad state of affairs I think.  So close but so far.

Of course, I’m not advocating a method where if you lose an ID you get free replacements.  Oh no no no.  Revolutionarily, you could automatically be required to pay a higher rate of tax until you’ve paid off costs incurred perhaps?  That would be quick, simple and make the most of 21st Century technology.  But a free general ID should be a human right, with nearly 7,000,000,000 of us on the planet, if somebody wants to know who we are, we should not have to pay any extra for it.

I wonder if I’m alone in this plea.  Tax us more if needbe for it, as we’ll all get it back anyway by not paying for our passport and driving licence and everything else we need…or, now here’s a thought.  Combine all three for cost-effectiveness.  Now we are talking idealistic Ben.

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