11 April, 2005: It's the fun game that everyone can play!

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On Saturday we organised a game of Ambush The Cabinet Minister. For those who've never played this, here are the rules:

What you will need

  1. One or more moles in your constituency Labour Party;
  2. a cabinet Minister;
  3. a small group of volunteers;
  4. something to protest about;
  5. some leaflets;
  6. a banner.

How to play

Get wind of an occasion when a cabinet Minister is coming to your constituency to kick-start a candidate's local election campaign. Surround the venue with people handing out leaflets, waving banners, etc. Await arrival of the cabinet Minister. A photo-opportunity should now arrange itself.

On this occasion, Peter Hain MP PC, Leader of the House of Commons and Lord Privy seal, was visiting Cambridge to address a Labour meeting at which Anne Campbell was to be re-adopted as the Parliamentary Candidate for Cambridge. Since both Anne and Peter Hain are enthusiastic supporters of ID cards -- and since most members of the constituency Labour Party are not -- this was an ideal opportunity to remind those present of the costs and dangers of the government's proposals -- proposals which may be dead for now, but are likely to reappear after the election.

Visiting the Labour Party

I should at this point remark that NO2ID and its Cambridge local group are non-party-political organisations, a point underlined by the fact that many members of the Cambridge Labour Party wished us luck and took NO2ID badges to wear during their meeting. (And, naturally, in the event that a cabinet minister who was, somehow, not a member of the Labour Party and was nevertheless in favour of ID cards were to visit Cambridge, we would do our best to make them aware of our position.)

Anne herself did not accept a leaflet or a badge, but she did listen patiently to our concerns about ID cards for several whole minutes before explaining, equally patiently, that the world has changed, that ID cards are needed to fight terrorism -- a view which is, I understand, not even held by the Home Office any more -- and (a new one, this) that in any case we're going to be stuck with biometric passports anyway, so it's pointless to object to ID cards.

Sadly we didn't win the game of Ambush the Cabinet Minister. Apparently Peter Hain did turn up, but he was so late that by then we'd concluded that he wasn't going to arrive at all. Depending on your view of our government, you'll conclude either that this is a typical example of lacklustre New Labour organisation, or that he'd presumably been delayed by urgent and vital ministerial business -- a privy which needed sealing, or a civil liberty which needed abolishing, or something like that. Or we scared him away.

Still, jolly good fun all round, and to be recommended if any prominent ID cards supporters are visiting your neck of the woods. Many thanks to everyone who helped out.

Copyright (c) 2005 Chris Lightfoot; available under a Creative Commons License.