Dissident Congress website

The "Card" - A snapshot of the future...

By A profitt

Nigel Potter was the "fortunate" man to be the first person to receive one of the new ID cards as part of the government's scheme to combat terrorism. "What a brilliant idea" he thought. Like most people in the country, 37 year old Nigel was strongly in favour of the "card". So much so that he opted for the Supercard which doubled up as a credit/debit card, with the incentive of lessening the likelihood of fraud. "That's it! I give up some civil liberties, which I won't notice anyway, to gain near-total security from crime. Well, it makes sense doesn't it? I can use it without having to worry about stolen credit cards ever again. If you've got nothing to hide, you should have no more objection to the card". Gradually more and more people opted for the Supercard and it became a part of national life. Most retail outlets started to accept Supercard transactions, and cash was frowned on. Libraries stopped using tickets and all fines were debited from one's bank account. Video clubs, bowling alleys, rock concerts, theatres, even pubs started taking the "card" as a first preference. One could buy a chocolate bar and a newspaper at the local newsagents using the "card" and no one seemed to mind. Not only that but a database was set up to cover all EU citizens. The Prime Minister heralded a new era, a cashless society in which street robbery, fraud, and illegal immigration would be a thing of the past. Nigel made full use of his "card" - he bought a subscription to Shooter's Monthly magazine; a holiday in Tunisia, he even bought items at a jumble sale where the new equipment had been installed at a church hall! He, like many others found keeping track of his spending to be far simpler than before. Whereas previously cash and cheques gave no hit what he had spent his money, the new Supercard told him exactly what he had bought and where he bought it. For a few weeks Nigel was happy with the situation, until odd things began happening. He started receiving junk mail, lots of it too...

He'd been used to the usual rip-off merchants trying to con him with parting with his money, but this was more personal. Everything from hair tonic to stamp collecting, U2 concerts to National Trust leaflets... He looked at it carefully and remembered visiting a National Trust building on a date with his new girlfriend, a Lebanese girl called Fatima. He'd played a track by rock group U2 on the jukebox at his local pub, and seen his doctor about his itchy scalp. Surely doctor's patients were dealt with under the strictest of confidentiality? Or maybe not nowadays? What about the stamp collecting? Ah yes, he'd bought a stamp to send back a postcard to his brother whilst in Tunisia. Did everyone using overseas stamps receive communications from stamp collecting companies, he wondered?

If they could know all about his purchases, what else might they know? As tensions with the Middle East heightened, life became more difficult for Nigel. His romance with Fatima faltered and visits to the Middle East were curtailed. He still reads books about their culture, however, one New Year's Day saw the final abolition of cash. All memberships and subscriptions to political and other societies were now transparent - the government knew your beliefs and all of your movements, whether by car or public transport.

One day Nigel received a knock on the door. It was the police. He was arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, accused of working with the Islamic fundamentalists. They sat him in a corner. "Mr Potter, on Saturday the 21st you visited a gun club. That afternoon you withdrew a book about Islam. You then took a female companion to a Lebanese restaurant. I submit to you that those actions are suspicious when taken in conjunction and that you are potential threat to the security of the European Union!".

Nigel was incarcerated in a detention centre. The interns were varied and numerous. Mainly hard men with shaven heads, Arabs, and middle aged political activists. One of the political types, Bill, was about 65 and had been a prominent member in the anti-EU movement. He was a farmer who had gone out of business during the foot and mouth crisis. During the first great anti-EU riot a year back, at which young men fought pitched battles with the police, he had been out Christmas shopping with his wife a mile away from the scene. Despite there being no video evidence of his involvement in the riot, the "card" had proved that he was both in London that weekend and a member of sundry anti-EU groups (some of which were subsequently banned on grounds of Xenophobia). During the riot he was quietly sitting with his wife Maureen in Hyde Park. As he was not using the "card" during the riot, he was assumed to have been rioting. Under Corpus Juris, he was considered guilty until proven innocent.

Mark, a 50-year-old plumber, had caught his wife having an affair. She left him, taking their 3 children with her, and set the Child Support Agency onto him. He developed a drink problem under the stress and when the authorities checked his card they traced a number of purchases from the pub and off-licences. He lost access rights (having been deemed an unfit father) and had a breakdown, losing his job and purchasing power. After much provocation he drove over to his wife's lover and beat him up. When the authorities checked his "card" they noted a subscription to the "Men's Rights Review". The case became a test case to show how father's rights groups were potential terrorist cells with members capable of violence. As Nigel looked at Mark he remembered his face from the news bulletins.

The government allowed an element of dissent outside of mainstream in order to appear "liberal" and simultaneously kept tabs on their enemies. The more clued-up organisations worked underground, using payments by previously purchased items which could not be traced to the "card". Some anti-EU groups began to use payment by WH Smith vouchers, which they used to buy paper and postage. It was hard keeping activities secret. Outwardly Britain was a liberal capitalist democracy, but if the veneer was stripped away it revealed a paranoid culture using consumer purchasing in a totalitarian manner to make snap judgements (usually incorrectly) about people's associations and motivations.

Nigel's brother read the news. Nigel and some other detainees had been offered the chance to emigrate. Apparently there had not been enough evidence to charge them with a "crime", but they had also failed to prove their innocence. A new civil rights act had quickly been drafted to allow people in this legal no man's land to leave Britain indefinitely. Nigel had his "card" confiscated and assumed a new identity abroad (outside EU borders). He was now classified with U.N. Nationality (a stateless person, an asylum seeker).