Friday, November 18, 2005

Govt flunkies smear LSE report

The government has been stooping to some pretty underhand tricks over the LSE's report on ID cards published earlier this year. Given that the report makes a mockery of their costings and much else of their proposals, ministers and backbench flunkies have now resorted to personal abuse of one of the report's editors, Simon Davies:
Baroness Corston: While my noble friend is finding the appropriate place, perhaps I may comment on something she said earlier. I have been very dismayed at the degree to which noble Lords have referred to a particular report as the "LSE report". It was actually written by a Mr Simon Davies, who works for Privacy International, which is an international organisation that is violently opposed to identity card Bills and has opposed them in many countries. Mr Davies came to a meeting in the other place chaired by me a couple of years ago when the Government first mentioned identity cards.

It is true that Mr Davies is a visiting fellow of the LSE, but that is a different matter. Indeed, the present director of the LSE, Howard Davies, has confirmed that the document itself is not an official corporate document of the LSE. Perhaps we should start calling it the "Davies report".

In fact, as was made clear in a letter to the Daily Telegraph in the summer, the report is a joint effort of dozens of academics (including myself):
Sir - The Home Secretary and his ministers have repeatedly claimed that the LSE identity-card report has been inspired and controlled by Simon Davies, a visiting LSE academic. The assertion is both unfair and incorrect. Simon Davies has certainly played a valuable and inspiring role, but his has been one role among many.

We, along with many other professional colleagues, have worked diligently on this report. Our teams have striven over the past six months to ensure that the research is both comprehensive and correct. We see the recent aggression as a political tactic to undermine the research and to shore up the Government's desperate portrayal of the report as "mad", "preposterous" and "rubbish".

No one person involved in this work would ever take sole credit for the report's many achievements and no one person should suffer a kicking because of its remarkable impact. All of us fully stand by the report and its findings. We therefore collectively offer ourselves up in sacrifice to the Government for our share of ridicule and abuse.
It seems that the government's only response to the report's substantive contribution to the debate has been to attempt to shoot the messenger.


Watching Them, Watching Us said...

Is it the Home Office Ministers, or their NuLabour political advisors, or the senior Home Office civil service mandarins like Sir John Gieve, or the actual Home Office Identity Cards Programme team who are the ones who are behind these attacks on the LSE and on Simon Davies ?

Ian Brown said...

It seems like Charles Clarke first tested out the strategy when he accused Simon of "fabricating" the report on the Radio 4 Today programme during the summer. The results were obviously positive, as since then Andy Burnham, Tony McNulty and now the 'noble' Baronesses Corston and Scotland have all repeated the attacks. It's hard to tell which part of the government or civil service originated the idea though.