Getting Irate So That You Don't Have To

Getting Irate So That You Don't Have To

Saturday, 10 July 2010

ConCensus Reached - Let's Bin It

Tremendous news from the Telegraph this morning that the government is planning to axe the Census. This colossal (and colossally expensive) exercise in State-sponsored snooping has long been a bug-bear among libertarians, so to have a government prepared to do away with it is really quite refreshing.

Francis Maude, doubtless with one eye on cost but also with one, I hope, on lowering the level of the State's intrusion into our lives, quite rightly says that any useful information gleaned from the Census is already in the government's possession in a myriad of other forms, and only has to be pulled together: "There is a load of data out there in loads of different places”, he says, and he ain't kidding. It would be better still if Mr Maude had said "and actually we don't care how many gay Afghan-born Buddhist undertakers there are in Littlehampton anyway" but I suppose that's just too much to hope for.

I can't help worrying that there may be some Data Protection-related legal challenges coming down the line if government agencies start passing personal data from one to the other but in many ways I hope there aren't. Abolition of the Census seems to me to be a common-sense solution to a long-standing problem, namely that successive governments have wasted millions of pounds asking thoroughly banal and stupid questions which they already knew the answer to or, more likely, didn't need to know the answer to in the first place.

A government-employed
busybody yesterday

It would also be nice to think that the government might have been driven to this by a growing reluctance among the public to tow the line and fill the forms in; in 2001 around 3 million people refused to play ball and another 400,000 extracted the Michael out of the "religion" question by informing the State that they belonged to the Jedi faith.

I have to say there's one thing that does disappoint, which is that they're still going to go ahead with the 2011 tree-killing extravaganza. This is, apparently, because it's "too late" to stop it. This is simply beyond my comprehension. How can it ever be "too late" to stop God knows how many thousand government-employed micro managing oiks taking their unhealthy interest in our private affairs a mite too far ?

Knocking the Census on the head will come as a blow to a few, not least of all the various genealogists and history anoraks who caused the website publishing the results from the 1911 Census to crash last year, but they're just going to have to live with it I'm afraid. And as for the QC / constitutional barrister who's crying and bleating about it on the basis that a population count had been carried out by the monarch or government for almost 1,000 years, he's peddling a bloody silly argument. Monarchs and governments have also been locking innocent people up for 1,000 years - it doesn't make it right.

So, hats off to the Coalition on this one - good call.

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