The Identity Cards Act 2006 is now law, and – despite growing opposition, significant delays and rising costs – the new Prime Minister shows no sign of calling a halt to the National Identity Scheme. In 2008, the government intends to pilot fingerprinting and to issue the first ‘biometric residence visas’ to non-EU foreign nationals as a precursor to registering British Citizens.
The legal powers to do these all these things will shortly begin to be applied. Now is the time to call in the legal defence fund part of the pledge.
So, that’s £10 from everyone, please. It should add up to about £110,000 in the campaign coffers.
This campaign could be, I think, a landmark for online political campaigning in the UK. We had some success with the letter-writing campaign for “We Can’t Turn Them Away“, but I think the financial clout that a six figure sum could deliver the NO2ID campaign would be a first for online campaigning in Britain. (Not worldwide, of course. The Howard Dean campaign raised loads of cash in 2003, and Republican Presidential hopeful Ron Paul just raised $4,000,000 in one day).
The worry is that the PledgeBank will not deliver the expected return. Its likely that not all pledgers will cough-up the cash. Whatever percentage fails to do so will be noted by future campaigners. If that is only 1% or so, then that will have a minimal effect. But if the number of dud pledgers turns out to be too high, then future campaigners may begin to make unwelcome economic calculations. If you only expect, say, 50% of pledgers to make good on their promise, then you will actually ask for more money from the outset (in the case of the NO2ID campaign, you would ask for £20 from each of them, instead of just a tenner). In turn, this will reduce the number of people who pledge money in the first place.
In simple business terms, this supply-demand calculation might not be an issue, since one accumulates the same amount of money by the end. But in political terms, it is very much a concern, since the actual number of supporters is as important as the money they raise. So its particularly important the the NO2ID PledgeBank yeilds a high percentage of promised donations. If it does not, then the whole fund-raising model could be undermined.
Can any of the economists in our midst offer a more sophisticated analysis? Indeed, can anyone comment on how successful previous PledgeBank fundraising drives have been?