Tag Archive for Census

Census reveals rise of Englishness and death of Britishness

The 2011 census results have been released and they make for interesting reading.  I didn’t take a constructive part in last year’s census (not so much on ideological grounds but because I don’t trust the British government with the information) but it’s interesting reading nonetheless.


For the first time, the census allowed us to say if we identified ourselves as English and an overwhelming majority of people did – 37.6m people (67.1% of the respondents) identified themselves as English with 32.4m (57.7%) identifying themselves as solely English.

I have said many times that Britishness is not just in decline but fatally wounded and the census figures bear that out.  Only 16.3m people (29.1%) identified themselves as British and just 10.7m people (19.1%) identified themselves as solely British.  Even as a dual identity Britishness is dead in the water.

The ethnicity figures are a little worrying – only 59.8% of people in London identify themselves as having British ethnicity.  Ignoring the fact that there is no such thing as a British ethnicity, this isn’t a healthy statistic.  London is the political and media capital of the UK, the place where policy is formed and in no way does London give a realistic view of the UK which is one of the reasons why so much British government policy makes no sense.

In 2001, 9% of the population identified themselves as immigrants (ie. born outside of the UK).  Last year it was 13%.  Since 2001, something like 3.8m immigrants moved to England and Wales.  When we are so short of jobs and housing already, this level of immigration is simply unsustainable – it’s over 5% of the population.

The census data is supposed to drive British government policy and provision of services – that’s the reason given for compelling every adult in the country by law to complete the census – so it will be interesting to see how the 2011 census results drive policy.  The promotion of Britishness clearly has to stop, it’s a minority identity which costs tens (if not hundreds) of millions to promote and British government policy is geared around its exclusive promotion.  Most people in England identify themselves as English but this identity is subject to official policies of marginalisation and suppression.

ONS telling Census staff they’re not part of the government

We’ve just had the census police at the door as we hadn’t returned our form.  She had already been forewarned about my opinion of the census by the next door neighbour who happens to be her sister. 🙂

As it happens, the census has been filled out and sealed in the envelope already but it just hadn’t been posted.  She’ll be back soon though I expect.

I carefully followed the instructions on the front of the census form and complied with them to the letter.  The instructions told me that I must participate, that I must not provide false information and that I should write in black or blue ink in capitals with one letter in each box (this is so Lockhead Martin, the contractors who have been paid millions up front to run the census, can read them cheaply by computer).  I participated and I didn’t provide false information as instructed.  As should doesn’t mean must, I chose to scrawl my answers across the boxes provided.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a red pen or crayon to write with.

The census asked for the names of my children but didn’t specify that it had to be the name on their birth certificates so I gave their nicknames and left the surnames blank for security reasons.  I declined the opportunity to tell them who my employer was as I’ve signed the Official Secrets Act and they already know who I work for from HMRC’s records (HMRC is a government department).  I didn’t tell them how many bedrooms I have in my house because the Land Registry (a government department) already know.  Similarly, I didn’t answer the question about whether we have passports because the Identity & Passport Office (another government department) already knows.  I did helpfully point out to them where they could find the information.

I’ve checked the Census Act 1920 and it says that I have to answer the questions, nowhere does it say how I have to answer the questions other than truthfully.  As far as I’m concerned “Ask the Land Registry” is a truthful answer to the question how many bedrooms does my house have.

Anyway, the census person will no doubt be back in a few days to tell me that I haven’t filled it out properly and have to do it again.

Interestingly, when we were talking about what I’d written on the census, she told me that the government don’t get the census, the ONS do.  When I pointed out the ONS is part of the British government, she said she had been told that it wasn’t part of the government.  I pointed out that the website for ONS is ons.gov.uk.  “Oh yeah,” she said.

Naughty ONS, they’re even lying to their own staff!

Looking for concensus

Very shortly the 2011 Census forms will drop through my letterbox and I’m in a bit of a quandry.

I want to take the opportunity to define myself as English now that the census form finally deigns to ask people if they are English after decades of recording other ethnicities and nationalities.  I also fancy putting something daft in religion just to mess up the statistics.  But I don’t like the idea of the state compiling huge databases of personal information about people, especially me.

I fully understand the justifications for recording census information and on the whole they are perfectly reasonable and genuine.  How can local budgets be set and services prioritised if demographics aren’t known?  But it comes down to a question of trust: do you trust this government with the information and do you trust future governments with the information?  I don’t trust the current British government with all my personal details and I certainly can’t trust a future government because I don’t know who’s going to be in it or what they’re going to be like.

Some of the questions in the census go far beyond the statistical information required to provide services.  Why does the state need to know my religious beliefs?  Why does the state need to know what nationality I consider myself to be?  Why does the state need to know how many bathrooms I have in my house?  The state knows I am married because I was required to obtain the state’s permission to do so and the state knows I am still married because I would have required the state’s permission to dissolve it.  The state knows all about my education because the state controls the education system.  The state knows my ethnic background because the state required my parents to register my birth just like it did of their parents and their parents before them.  The state knows what rooms I have in my house because the state required a plan of my home before it granted permission for it to be built.

The British government already has all this information about me, my wife, my kids and my home.  They may not have it all in one place but they have it already.  So why should I fill in a census form just to give it all to them again in a handy single source of information?

So I am undecided what to do with this year’s census.  Shall I ignore it and risk a fine (a £1,000 fine and criminal conviction is the punishment for not informing the state of your personal information)?  Shall I fill in the bits I want to answer and leave out the bits I don’t (again risking a fine and criminal conviction)?  Or should I provide false information (risking a fine once again)?  I object very strongly to the idea that the state has a right to my personal information and to demand it from me at will with menaces.  I object equally as strongly to the idea that the British government intends to hand over the personal information they are demanding from me with menaces to the EU.

Update: I wrote this post this morning but forgot to publish it.  In the meantime I was sent a link to this article – White and English but not white-English: how to deal with the discriminatory Census for England and Wales – which you should read.  The 2011 census allows people to identify themselves as Black-British or Asian-British but not Black-English or Asian-English.  According to the 2011 census you can only be ethnically English if you’re white but you can be Black or Asian and ethnically British.  In other words, the questions on ethnicity and identity are loaded to ensure they get the “right” answer.