The demonstration took place to highlight the role that Thales will play in producing the National Identity Register and ID cards, and the profit they will be making from their production. The company is 27% owned by the French government , so those who made the decision to accept the deal will not be directly affected by it. The protestors don’t think the company should honour such a contract, especially in light of the Conservatives saying they will scrap the scheme .
The protestors took an array of instruments, from ukuleles to horns, to make as much noise as possible outside the offices, and grab the company’s attention. Workers were given flyers as they passed giving the reasons for the action, and later an open letter was presented to the company expressing the groups concerns . The event was marked with a notable police presence, but passed entirely peacefully.
Though the police did little in their presence, some took issue with the reason for them being there. Hazel Kent, a fourth year Arabic and French student, commented: “This demo was always going to be peaceful, and it was. Yet the police still laid on a large number of officers for the demo, and even trailed us in a car as we travelled on a local bus. We don’t need permission to lawfully protest. ID Cards are part of a wider issue of increasing control by the state of its citizens.”
“We are targeting Thales because they are set to benefit from our misfortune”, said Andrew McCarthy, a first year politics student. “ID Cards, when looked at together with the Government’s insistence on 42 day detention without trial or even a charge, represents a serious threat to the civil liberties and human rights of people living in the UK, especially those originally from outside the EU. They represent a fundamental shift in the relationship between citizen and state.”
The London School of Economics has estimated that the National Identity Scheme will cost up to £20 billion. The individual cost will be at least £100 per person. The UK National Identity Scheme would be illegal in Germany due to their stricter data protection laws.