Tuesday, December 04, 2007

And now: the Euro Census

In those days Caesar Barosso issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Brown was governor of Britannia.) And everyone went to his own town to register.

Stifled by the ineradicable bindweed of ‘ever closer union’, the next census of the United Kingdom will have a distinct EU dimension, for it will be a Euro-census ‘harmonised’ throughout the entire Union, with all 27 member states poking their bloated noses into Cranmer’s (and everyone else’s) personal affairs. No longer will they ask different questions at different times, but Brussels is intent on a unified Euro-census. While this would need approval of each member state, the plans have already been approved by members of the committee on civil liberties, justice and home affairs at the European Parliament.

The 2001 census inquired, for the first time, into one’s religious adherence, and many respondents were sufficiently irritated by this invasion of privacy that they either refused to answer or stated their religion as ‘Jedi Knight’. As a consequence, there are now 390,000 declared adherents to this faith in the UK, which is more than declared for either Judaism or Sikhism. This number should have triggered a formal option box in the 2011 census, but the harmonisation process offers the British Government a way out of this embarrassing categorisation. This is more than a little irritating to Cranmer.

And what sorts of probing questions may one look forward to?

There is to be the usual focus on how people live, including education, occupation, hours worked, and marital status, which usually contributes to the formulation of matters like housing policy. But it is not clear why this needs to be centralised in Brussels. The data requested would include ethnicity, literacy, size and type of family, religion, and will delves into areas like computer literacy, number of cars owned, cooking facilities and ‘durable consumer goods possessed by the household’.

People are asked to declare alongside their marital status whether they are in a homosexual civil partnership. Thankfully, plans for enquiry into what actually happens between the sheets have been dropped, but for how long? It is reported that the EU had intended to enquire the ‘date(s) of the beginning of consensual union(s) of women having ever been in a consensual union: first consensual union and current consensual union’.

Cranmer can hardly wait for the Government to misplace the sex lives of the entire population of the UK. That indeed would be worth a fortune in the wrong hands.

As the census becomes pages longer with each passing decade, there are pertinent questions to be asked about the extent to which the state is increasingly interfering in everyday life. Not only does there remain the likely introduction of compulsory ID cards, but council tax revaluation and HIPs include powers for state inspectors to enter and examine every home. Big Brother may not yet be a camera in every household, but he is certainly a database probing into people's property and lifestyles.

Questions on illness go much further than in 2001, and demand details of learning difficulties or psychological conditions. A raft of questions on ethnicity includes more detailed sub-categories than before. For example, boxes require people to say whether they are specifically Arab or a 'Gypsy/Romany/Irish Traveller'. After protests in 2001, ‘White English' is now counted as an ethnic group, after the previous census permitted one to be Scottish or Irish but not English or Welsh.

Religious questions seek details of the main minority faiths, but all Christians are once again grouped together. There is to be no further enquiry into how the faith which commands the loyalty of 70% of the population is constituted. This is a missed opportunity for all denominations.

The sadness is that a national census relies on public goodwill to paint a comprehensive and accurate picture of the nation. Yet this Labour government have not only shown themselves to be untrustworthy with sensitive data; they are further eroding the public goodwill by being ever more intrusive. And the more intrusive the enquiries become, the more likely is it that they will elicit false returns or evasion. Certainly, anything that may link census questions to taxation is bound to encourage evasion.

And anything that enquires into personal matters of faith is only likely to boost the professed adherents of Jedi philosophy or that of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. And in true ecumenical fashion and with sincere expression of spiritual goodwill, Cranmer greets and exhorts the disciples of both, and prays that your flocks may multiply, and your borders be enlarged.


Anonymous Pastafarian Priest said...

Your Grace,

I thank you for your generous welcome. May you be touched by his noodly appendage.

4 December 2007 at 09:32  
Blogger Homophobic Horse said...

Ecumenism is the work of the devil.

4 December 2007 at 15:42  
Anonymous Jedi Knight said...

Most of the Jedis I knew (myself among them) weren't at all motivated by privacy concerns, it was an in-joke.

A Europe-wide survey could throw up some really interesting data, but of course there's only so much I'd want linked to identifying information.

4 December 2007 at 16:16  
Blogger Dark_Heretic said...

The question remains as to what would happen if you simply refused to do it or got caught giving wrong answers?

4 December 2007 at 17:09  
Blogger Dr.D said...

Since this think is pages long, is there a census taker standing there asking these questions, or do you get a form to fill out and return? If you have some one standing there asking the questions and recording the answers, it should solve the unemployment problems for quite a while. If it is a form to fill out and return, this just invites all sorts of creative answers. Either way, it looks like a GOOD IDEA!!/sarcasmoff

I particularly like the part where they were going to ask all those great questions about sex. That has all sorts of potential for mischief! What the Left will be able to do with those statistics will be wondrous to behold. And if the data falls into the wrong hands and gets traced back to individuals, the blackmail potential is out of this world. What a great idea!

The EU is really a great benefit to the UK!! Is there another organization of this sort you could join as well for more advantages?

4 December 2007 at 17:50  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A very good question, dark_heretic. Are they going to cross-check the information you give in the census against data held by other government agencies (eg HMRC (lol), DVLA, the centralised NHS database)? Because if not, why not just lie? The astounding incompetence of the government at handling personal information isn't necessarily a bad thing.

4 December 2007 at 17:52  
Blogger AethelBald, King of Wessex said...

Two things:

1. You won't get "caught" giving wrong answers because, to catch you, the government would have to act and, in acting, would tip its hand.

2. The Left is a lot less interested in your sexual proclivities than the Right. Lefties, like Desmond Tutu, are into stuff like "Structural Sin", which I take to include things like agricultural subsidies. Only Righties, like His Grace, really care about "Personal Sin" which is mainly what you do with your private parts.

4 December 2007 at 20:29  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are 390,001 Jedi Knights, I didn't fill mine in, I was going to but I had been trainig with a Miniture Light sabre and at the time of filling in the form I mistook it for a Pen.

5 December 2007 at 02:59  
Blogger ENGLISHMAN said...

In the true spirit of a census,give only your name ,rank and serial number,because dis-information ,seems to have no effect,i have tried,eg ,this year i am 143 years old,no telegram from the queen ,no bus pass,so i suggest giving nothing but the barest details,do not tick the box for white English,as there are no other kind of English people,let us make this completely unworkable.

5 December 2007 at 19:30  
Blogger Falco said...

In the true spirit of European integration I shall be writing "Just F*ck off" one the form in every EU language.

6 December 2007 at 10:20  

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