by Sarah McCulloch

I am angry. And the reason I am angry is this. A whole bunch of people turned up to the last General Meeting to vote on the renewal of the Union’s no-platform policy, which denies fascists (who, there’s no denying, are complete tossers) their human right to the freedom of speech.

Then these people left and the General Meeting lost quorum. This meant the motion on ID Cards, which would have committed our Union to fighting an actual fascist policy, one that came into effect last week for all international students, couldn’t even be discussed, let alone passed.

Why on earth is everyone so wrapped up in obsessing over the BNP, which only has 8,000 members in the entire country, when our own government implements ID cards for foreigners in order to monitor, control, and generally screw them over in ways that play on our worst and basest prejudices? Of course, this is just a prelude to the day when the rest of us are forced to carry those expensive, authoritarian pieces of plastic. Seriously, where are people’s priorities? All of you who voted to retain the no-platform policy and then left, where did you go? Why was passing a symbolic piece of legislation more important to you then taking a stand against something that is actually tampering with our privacy and freedom of movement? Why?

You do know that no platform policies are illegal, don’t you? That the 1986 Education Act specifically states that no one can be denied the use of Union premises on the grounds of their political beliefs? That you can pass whatever measures you like against fascists at General Meetings and yet could do nothing to stop Nick Griffin walking onto our campus tomorrow at any student’s invitation? I’m no lawyer, but any casual reading of the Education Act, the University code on freedom of speech, or indeed, our own Union Constitution, shows the no platform policy we passed is almost certainly, totally meaningless. ID cards for foreigners came in last week and yet the Union still has no official stance because not allowing the BNP in our Union is somehow far, far more important than the systemic victimisation and discrimination of foreigners. This seriously hacks me off.

Fascism is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as “1) an authoritarian and nationalistic right-wing system of government. 2) Extreme right-wing, authoritarian, or intolerant views or practice.” If anything could be defined as nationalistic, authoritarian and intolerant, it is the act of compelling all non-EU nationals to give us incredible amounts of personal information, tracking and monitoring everything they do, forcing them to pay for this unacceptable intrusion into their lives and deporting them if they do not comply. ID cards are fascist and they’ve happened, because all the people who could have done something about it were running around worrying about the potential of some nationalists coming on our campus and making a fool of themselves. They utterly lost sight of the woods because they were too busy kicking the crap out of an acorn.

I know a lot of the people reading this do oppose ID Cards, and you did stay to vote (or would have done had you been there – although, why weren’t you?) This column (and my anger) is not aimed at you. It is directed towards all those who think that posturing about the far right is somehow more effective than campaigning against the greatest threat to our civil liberties in decades, a National Identity Register that the BNP will have a field day exploiting should they ever gain power. These people are having a far greater negative impact on my life and yours than the BNP ever has. The BNP at most has corrupt incompetent councillors; ID cards are going to result in the Government controlling everyone’s lives, yours and mine. Some people see the authoritarian policies of our current government subordinate to a party with a handful of council seats. Frankly, I think those are pretty skewed priorities.

The motion arguing against ID cards will be coming up again at the next General Meeting. I hope that the people who decided to sod off after the “no platform” policy vote will have the decency to come and actually make a difference. But just in case they don’t, I beg everyone else to come and vote as well. Please, fight the database state, vote “NO2ID”, and let’s preserve fundamental civil liberties for all.

For other articles on activism or ID cards, please visit my pages on Activism.