ID cards update

There are two regular tracking surveys of attitudes toward ID cards – the Home Office commission one, formerly carried out by TNS, now NOP, and the anti-ID card pressure group No2ID commission one, carried out by ICM. Both have released new figures over the last few months, and both show opinion moving against ID cards, albeit, with very different topline figures.

The latest wave of the Home Office data shows 56% approving of the “National Identity Service, including identity cards”, 27% opposed – a net approval of +29, down from +35 in their previous survey.

Meanwhile ICM’s poll for No2ID found 38% thought that ID cards were a good idea, 60% a bad idea – a net approval of -22, down from +2.

So both show opinion moving against ID cards, but overall opinion is vastly different. This is almost certainly down to the different way the questions are asked. In the Home Office polling respondents are first asked why they think the government is introducing ID cards, which will put them in mind of potential benefits of the card, and likely produces a higher approval rating. In No2ID’s polling, the likely cost of an ID card is mentioned in the question, which likely reduces the proportion of people who think it is a good idea.


10 Responses to “ID cards update”

  1. Yep, it reads very much like a question designed to influence people by the home office; interesting that it continues to work against the government. It’s surely only valid showing a trend against the cards it is so loaded.

    Okay I loathe the idea of ID cards and it will be but one reason why I shall not vote Labour, but I think I’m making a fair point….

  2. I agree with Jack.

    Taken together, these questions imply that people don’t mind the bureaucracy, but mind the ID cards themselves. These is perhaps odd. My impression is that those knowledgeable about the area are not so concerned about the ID cards themselves (after all most of use have driving licences, passports etc.) but are very concerned about the costs and about the unnecessarily intrusive underlying “big brother” computer systems. Does this means that the political values of the electorate generally differ from those of the experts, or that most people would become more opposed to ID cards if they had more information?

  3. I don’t know if true but several bloggers on other sites suggest:-

    Ipsos/Mori: Conservative 43 (+7) Lab 26 (+2) LDs 19 (-6). Fieldwork carried out 16-18 October. Comparison with pre Labour Conference.

  4. If ID cards were intended for id purposes only, possibly available for those who did not have passports or modern driving licenses as an immediate means of id then possibly there would not be much oppostion. Particularly if the price reflected the simplicity.

    The fear of many I believe is that id cards will hold a whole lot of data, which the Government will lose, thus assisting id theft and fraud, get the data wrong, resulting in innocent people being allocated prison records etc. be misused by government, or be very bureacratic and expensive.

    Probably all of the above.

  5. Surprise surprise, both sides biased the surveys to get the results they wanted. Why can we not have a question asked after explaining both the benefits AND the costs (or neither!)?

  6. I took part in the home office sample. I have acadmic qualifications in statistics. I have only once (also government) seen such a loaded set of questions, an awfull lot about controlling immigration (which is interesting) and nothing about costs or civil liberties. It took a real strength of will to say no at the end

  7. Interesting that No2ID lead on cost, even though the cost of the NIS isn’t a cost to the taxpayer – the IPS business model is that its operational costs are met from the fees it charges – and you would expect governement to place something in the best possible light.
    So, are No2ID trying to remind people of the cost, or are they tryign to scare people into thinking that everyone will pay, even if they object to ID cards?

  8. I approve of the idea of identity cards but only for legal aliens working or living here who should be required to carry such a card at all times in line with the US pattern.
    Foreign citizens without such a card found to be working or attending a university should be liable to arrest and deportation

  9. I suppose you’d expect government to try and encourage people to think about the benefits of ID cards before asking them if they support them or not. Not that it strikes me as particularly misleading. People still have their own opinions, and making them think about an issue before they express their support or opposition is what you might expect most organisations to do, even if you do give the results a bit of a bunk up by only asking about the benefits and not the risks.

    That said, what did surprise me was No2id’s question. It suggests to the person being asked that they can only buy an ID card together with a passport and that it will cost you £93. That really is misleading. Even I’ve heard the government say they are only £30 and you don’t have to buy one together with a passport.

    Looking at both polls and the wildly different opinions people express does suggest two things to me. First most people don’t think much about ID cards at all. Second, if thier opinions are so easily swayed when they do have to think about them, then they aren’t much fussed by them either way.

  10. I agree with Jack too…

    I don’t think most people understand enough about this issue to have a strong view; I think opinion is volatile on this one and could VERY easily be shifted the other way with any number of approaches in terms of counter argument: cost; Orwellianism; effectiveness…

    The question is so influencing…
    “do you support ID cards if it stops illegal immigration and helps solve crime and creates jobs in call centres and helps control fraud and illegal purchase of alcohol by underage yobs?”
    v
    “do you want to pay another 100 quid for another passport if it’s for the government to monitor what you have for breakfast and fund another giant IT system that makes regular errors and facilitates your data being stolen by bribed employees or left on laptops on trains?”

    I wouldn’t read too much into this poll: “if” is a big word.