After so much publicity and dissent we no longer hear of the Government’s plans to issue everyone with an identity card. All kinds of objections were raised with the strongest being the infringement of people’s privacy.
In 1939 it was not for discussion. There were no objections when every British Citizen was issued with an Identity Card containing all their details.
Servicemen and women had more particulars and a photograph in their Pay Book that served the same purpose and acted as a Passport. It was obligatory to carry them at all times and in those days people were frequently stopped and asked to show them by the Police, Armed Forces and people in authority.
All over the Country there were road blocks controlled by the Army where you had to identify yourself before being allowed to pass. For some in more remote areas this might be every time they left their house or returned to it.
If you hadn’t been registered for your Identity Card there was no way you would be able to get a ration book or even a gas mask. Unless you had access to the Black Market where almost anything was available if you could afford it.
Even before that, as soon as you left school and started work you were given a National Insurance card for weekly stamps that covered sickness and Pension contributions and another which was much the same for unemployment benefit.
The main difference between now and then was the fact your fellow citizens had no way of knowing about your personal affairs unless you told them. Life was much simpler then and Communities were more closely bonded together in their own Class. Generally, the Working Class population had very little they needed to keep secret. Today, your neighbours and associates might not know as much about you but there are others that do.
It is very difficult to keep anything confidential within the family circle of friends. Particularly if it is something that could even loosely be interpreted as gossip. The biggest offenders of course are the Media who seem to guess or make up anything they can’t confirm or find out before their competitors. This can cause a great deal of distress to those involved.
In the past neighbours and friends probably knew all there was to know about each other and what they did or didn’t do had little affect on anyone outside their own circle. Today Social and Business circles are very much larger and our activities are more widespread. We meet and associate with many more people from all walks of life and anytime a large number of people get together it is noticeable how small groups soon form and break away. This immediately creates a situation where, within their small clique, individuals can criticise and use tittle-tattle about others as a tool to raise their own status.
What is it today that makes us so keen to keep our affairs private?
When a member of our family wins or achieves something we want the whole world to know. If we buy new clothes it’s the same, and we look for compliments. Perhaps it’s our failings and misdeeds we want to hide! We are all guilty of this and it’s part of our human nature. However, as the years pass it seems to get worse and as a Nation we have become more greedy, wanting the best of everything or at least the things we see our neighbours have.
With or without ready money it is now possible to get almost anything you want. Everywhere we look we are still encouraged to continue down the same path even though so many people now have a large percentage of their income taken every week to pay the interest on what they owe.
Most have little or no hope of paying off the debt. That is why, as the Media convinces them that winning the lottery will solve all their problems, they waste even more on all sorts gambling. What a pity we can no longer derive pleasure from watching our savings grow while the thing we want so badly gets ever closer.
We are all registered at birth. Our details disclosed when we start school and later personal numbers are issued for National Insurance, National Health Service, Inland Revenue and many other official bodies. In our wallets we carry a Driving License and sometimes a Passport as well as numerous Credit, Debit and Store cards.
All will have checked our Credit Rating. If we phone an Insurance Company, Business or Association of any kind we only have to give our Postal Code and they not only know who we are and where we live but practically everything there is to know about us.