Thursday, February 02, 2006

Andy Burnham: liar or fool?

Bloody Devil Award Andy Burnham: Home Office Minister and 1930s-style spiv (and liar).

Via Nosemonkey, I find that Andy "I've got some sugar if you like, guv; it fell off the back of a lorry" Burnham is attempting to justify ID Cards by trotting out the old fraud figures.
Identity fraud is costing the UK an estimated £1.7bn every year, Home Office Minister Andy Burnham has said.

At £35 per person, the estimated annual cost was greater than that of planned compulsory national identity cards, he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

ID fraudsters use personal details to gain access to bank accounts, run up bills, and create false documents like passports to carry out benefit crime.

Really? How long for, Andy? Even were we to accept this figure for identity fraud—which, given the Home Office's handling of its own finances, does require a certain leap of faith—since most of it is Cardholder Not Present (CNP) fraud, such as online phishing scams, it is difficult to see how, exactly, ID Cards will prevent much of this crime.

One might also query the spiv's understanding of, well, anything that he ever mentions, really. Because, looking at this exchange, he is either lying or he is ignorant, as Chris Lightfoot points out.
The most charitable explanation for Burnham's answer here—i.e. the one which means he doesn't lie to Parliament—is that he believes that a "[RFID] tag" (often used to mean a remotely-readable chip which carries only a unique identifying number) is materially different from the chip which will be on the ID card (which will carry name, photograph, iris photograph, etc.... and a unique identifying number).

So, is he ignorant or dishonest? I mean, leaving aside the fact that he is a politician, and thus probably both ignorant and dishonest.
Putting a "fingerprint or eye scan" on the cards along with the owner's name, address and date of birth would give them "much greater control over the use of their identity" and prevent criminals registering multiple identities, he added.

Really, Andy? How, exactly? Every time that somebody registers for a card, are you going to cross-reference their fingerprint and retina data with a database 60 million other fingerprints and retina scans? Seriously? Good luck with that one, pal.

Besides, this is all horseshit, anyway. Let's assume that the Home Office has actually managed not to completely arse up their fraud estimates in the same way as they mendaciously tried to cover up the fraud, wastage and incompetence shown in their accounts for this year the fucks, and assume that identity fraud does cost us £1.7 billion a year, or £35 per person per year.

Now, let's be really fucking charitable, and take the government's figure of £6 billion to set up the ID Card scheme and the National Identity Register (NIR), and its estimated operating costs of £390 million a year. Plus, since Andy has, as it were, made it personal, we must include the cost of people buying their initial card (because, yes, that is still a cost to us, the taxpayer), which the Home Office have said would cost about, well, £35; so, by their own convenient arithmatic, we can add a further £1.7 billion to the initial set-up costs.

So, for ID Cards and NIR, we have total set up costs of £7.7 billion, plus annual costs of £390 million.

So, assuming (generously, natch) that ID Cards stop 80% of identity fraud, that would mean that they are saving us £1.36 billion a year. Now:

£7.7 billion divided by 1.36 billion => roughly 5.7, so the initial setup costs would take roughly 5.7 years to pay off. However, those years also have continuing running costs, which total about £2.2 billion which, divided by £1.36 billion => roughly 1.6, so it would take a further 1.6 years to pay off the running costs, and then those 1.6 years also have running costs (totalling £624 million) and so on and so.

Generously, we could say that the costs of the ID Card and NIR would take about 10 years to pay off in savings from identity fraud. And that is assuming an 80% reduction in identity fraud, which isn't going to happen, and the lower end of the government's costing for the scheme which, as I showed yesterday, is also unlikely to be the case.

And this is assuming of course, that the encryption technology on the cards is not broken in that ten years—does anyone seriously believe that?—and that they don't have to totally redesign the system at any point in that ten years. Obviously, if you follow the Golden Rule of IT, it will take between 20 and 100 years to pay off the initial system (still assuming 80% savings on ID fraud).

So, Andy Burnham: blithering, Bl'arse-licking, no-nothing nitwit or disingenuous, mendacious, lying spiv? You decide, folks, but here's a word you should know...

Twankunt (n): descriptive of someone who is not only a twat and a wanker, but also a cunt.

UPDATE: Interestingly, bookdrunk predicted this on Monday.
Expect to hear how good ID cards will be at stopping benefit fraud over the next few days. Why? The value of the proposed cards in preventing terrorism is again being questioned...

Now, can you tell me who's going to win the 3.30 at Cheltenham...?

UPDATE 2: Chris Dillow examines the costs in a rather more accurate fashion.
Government practice is to discount the gains from investment projects at a real rate of 3.5% a year. Over 10 years, then, the net present value of stopping ID fraud is £14.1bn.

His conclusion is technically more accurate than mine, but his end sentiment is one that I entirely agree with.
That's the technocrat in me speaking. The rest of me thinks Burnham should shove his ID card up his jacksy sideways.

Good stuff.

UPDATE 3: Curious Hamster breaks down that £1.7 billion and finds that it is, to say the least, a highly dubious estimate. What a real fucking surprise that is.

UPDATE 4: The Longrider is starting to fray at the edges on this issue!
However, all that aside, Burnham comes out with the usual claptrap that I've come to expect of a contemptible, lying shit trying to sell me a product I neither want nor need.
"Mr Burnham told Today there were "a range of things people can do to protect themselves" - but compulsory national identity cards would be "a major breakthrough"."

Bollocks! They will be nothing of the sort. As is usual, this is a "solution" that desperately seeks a problem to fix - yet can't actually fix anything. Unless you consider the option for the government to engage in mass surveillance of the UK population; then it makes remarkable sense.

Nice one! It seems that Longrider is opting for the "liar" option...


Allan Scullion said...

Making up your own swear words now. I suppose it was only a matter of time. You have worn all the old ones out ;-)

I feel a new competition coming on. A prize for the best new swear word conflated from more than two originals?

Devil's Kitchen said...

Actually, it's pinched from the Viz Profanisaurus; it's just one that I happen to remember because I particularly liked it.

Much like "mumblers"...


Allan Scullion said...

"liar or fool?"

Can't he be both?

Anonymous said...

I am indeed opting for the liar option. I can't believe he really is that stupid and got to where he is. The only rational explanation is deliberate disingenuousness - or, as Barefaced Liar Byers would put it; untruth.

Seeing his smug, patronising face spouting smug, patronising lies just makes me want to clock him - and I'm not a violent person.

Anonymous said...

I find "twunt" to be a much more manageable word in such circumstances.

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