Tuesday 23 February 2021

Census and Civilisation

The government publicity machine has limbered up into a state of high activity preparing the ground for the 2021 Census.    I view this as a very big deal.

There are probably some libertarians out there who view the census as either an outrage, or as a silly exercise to be ignored and maybe even evaded.  Can't agree; I'm squarely with Caesar Augustus and William of Normandy in these matters.  The keeping of accurate public records is essential to civilisation as we know it.  (Some even say it's the primary legitimate function of government.)  Obviously it can be portrayed as a tool of subjugation, but that's ridiculous: if there's to be government at all, it must be properly informed.  Someone once wrote (Orwell?) that until some date early in 20thC, a law-abiding English gentleman need never come into day-to-day contact with the authorities.  Well, maybe, but along with other hitherto scrupulous public record-keeping we have a fine and lengthy tradition of accurate census-taking every 10 years, interrupted only by WW2: and nobody got to exempt themselves from it.

Except, that is, until this century, when the government started getting mealy-mouthed about kicking the doors in of people who won't cooperate.  Well, it would be too dangerous for the census agents, wouldn't it?  And maybe they didn't want to know exactly how many beds-in-the-shed were not being reported, because of, errrr, sensitivities.  So then we resort to "statistical methods" - like calculating how many people live in *recalcitrant* towns by measuring the sewage, FFS!  And who knows what indirect methods they'll be falling back on this time around, to fill in the gaping holes that we may confidently predict will still be left after their publicity drive, "primarily online" data gathering, and isolated "support" visits to dwellings.  Obviously they have a covid excuse this time, but there's no doubt they were never going to replicate the old-school 100% blitz on doorsteps by enumerators to collect the forms, check the contents and attempt to suss out the dubious stuff & report to higher management for the boot-boys to follow up.

Any pre-emptive willingness to accept anything less than 100% survey is an absolute, abject abrogation of government responsibility.  "Why you should take part?  - To help make sure you and your community get the services you need ..."  Well, I suppose that's a perfectly sensible, positive pitch in PR terms - and, to be fair, the words 'must', 'by law', 'offence', and 'fined up to £1,000' do appear on that website.  

But I guess we are all pretty sceptical as to whether this writ will run in certain districts we could all name.   Just now a mighty controversy rages about why BAME communities are disproportionately "vaccine-hesitant", even when strikingly against their prima facie best interests**.  Sometimes we hear that it's because they distrust the authorities generally.  Worthy bland appeals to self-interest notwithsanding, this "general distrust" seems highly likely to extend to official data-gathering, does it not?

Incidentally, if I prove to be wrong about this I will be the first to applaud.  Because it really needs to be done, and done properly.  A government that doesn't even know its people is not really a legitimate government at all, it's just a big, lazy, cowardly, ignorant, hulking factor in the background of people's lives.



**  (OK, the comments page is there for you to take issue with this ...)


decnine said...

In the background??? Seriously????

Elby the Beserk said...

GK Chesterton, not Orwell, I believe, who noted the massive increase in state interference in the lives of us individuals. And correctly.

Anonymous said...

Decnine, tell us what practical impact the government has on an illegal immigrant cheerfully living off-radar? Or scofflaws whose sole engagement with the authorities is fraudulent collecting of benefits and free health care, on demand and with minimal verification of personal circumstances? Or the owners of slave labour car-washes who run their jolly drugs operations in plain sight? And so on.

"Background" sounds like the appropraite description. "Ignorant & cowardly" too.

Anonymous said...

The government should just ask(/pay) Google for this information. I'm sure the information they hold will be far more accurate than anything derived from the census.

E-K said...

They should just measure the sewerage. So many are below radar it's now beyond any meaningful count by census.

BAMEs are most likely to die of CV-19, BAMEs are most likely to be stopped breaching lockdown (by coincidence, in near the same proportion as they are dying of CV-19) now BAMEs don't want the vaccine.

Is there a common theme to be found through this ? Yes. It's all because Whitey is racist according to the BBC and Guardian.

Don Cox said...

Was there really an accurate census of the East End of London in the 19th century ?

Don Cox

Matt said...

Perhaps we the people should have a 10 year census of government so we have accurate records of all the fat that can be cut (the sadly DOA Bonfire of the Quangos).

Nick Drew said...

Don - well, certainly very detailed, house-by-house, with long lists of names. And not all of them Mickey Mouse, either.

Could they have crammed in even more people? Was there large-scale personation or falsification? Family History type don't think so. In fact, in those days "everybody knew everybody else" - and (as is well-documented) in London at any rate the poor and the rich lived much more cheek-by-jowl than in later years: the rich in the big houses on the main streets, the poor in the side-streets, alleys and mews etc. (As you can still plainly see in older parts of the East End.)

Check Sherlock Holmes stories. Somewhere Holmes says (I paraphrase from memory): in the meanest alleyway in London, the cry of a child is always heard.

(He was contrasting it with the cruelties that could take place unrecorded in big country houses.)

klu01dbt said...

A.J.P Taylor History of England 1914-1945 I think.

dearieme said...

I suppose HMG could always announce that anyone who wasn't censused gets the old heave-ho. Fat chance.

By the by, in the part of the Scotland where I grew up there had been a Roman census. It's remarkable that a record of its having happened should have survived.
(A bloody sight more accurate record than the New Testament's yarn about the Palestinian census involving Baby Jesus.)

None of the content survived, of course, in either case.

Anonymous said...

I didn't fill in my census form in 2011, no follow-up despite not exactly being in inner London.

Who's going to be the brave boy going door to door in Sparkbrook, Harlesden or Walthamstow? And checking all the people who live in the garden sheds?


"Around 9,000 illegal “beds in sheds” housing tens of thousands of people have sprung up across London over the last five years, a report says today. London Tories warn the unregistered dwellings provide sub-standard living conditions and conceal illegal immigration, trafficking and benefit fraud. Their report, Secret Sleepers, claims boroughs are losing £9 million a year in unpaid council tax from rogue landlords who own the properties."

Demography is destiny. Import the Third World, become the Third World.

Anonymous said...

klu01dbt is correct. I've just confirmed it. It's the first sentence of the book.

Orwell made similar noises in some of his letters though, in which he basically argues that 20th Century technology has made people less free, and has divided people of different nations and caused them to hate each other (which is the opposite of the progressive cant that is usually put out). I don't have an exact reference, it's in the four-volume Penguin collected letters somewhere.

-- EC

Anonymous said...

I think it's more likely to happen property given the authoritarian tastes of some members of the cabinet.

jim said...

Ridiculous idea. Put it off for a couple of years if you are going to bother with it at all.

Then cui bono? Does HMG really want to know the truth about how rottenly overcrowded or illegally occupied its rat hole inner city estates are? Nothing but cost and aggravation, far better 'not to know (but not really)'. To run an honest census for that sort of info risks serious embarrassment over housing policy and job provision. No prime minister.

Providing services? Leave it out. Does Joe Sainsbury trawl the streets when deciding to build a shop? No, demand is far more easily measured and carries across to hospitals, doctors and all the rest. A wise government may not want to know too much too early.

Lord T said...

If things are voluntary I tend to fill them in correctly if I fill it in. Why compulsory I tend to exaggerate a bit. Make minor adjustments because the small room isn't a bedroom but a cupboard as it is full of junk. I eat lots of veg because sugar, bread, cornflakes, chocolate and chips all come from plants. I get lots of exercise; I spend all day jumping to conclusions, typing on keyboards and walking to the kettle.

So much fun that except for the bits they can already check it is a waste of time.

Anonymous said...

"the authoritarian tastes of some members of the cabinet"

You'll have noted that the authoritarian tendencies begin and end with the Native Brits. You can arrest Corbyn's brother or two women hiking in the Peak District.

But 300 Irish travellers at a wake ? Come on, man!

Anonymous said...

Btw I think we are heading for unneccessary deaths with this foolish "12 weeks between jabs" decision, which might be OK (luckily, it wasn't planned) with the AZ jab but definitely isn't for Pfizer.


The Pfizer vaccine (dose 1) reaches maximum effectiveness 85% at 21-24 days, but at 42+ days its down to 64%. More than a 1 in 3 chance you'll become ill, I don't call those good odds.

BMA want 3 weeks as specified on the label, so does Lancet. We've done well so far, pity to mess it up now.

Anonymous said...



The JCVI assumption that mRNA vaccines (BNT162b2 and Moderna's mRNA-1273 SARS-CoV-2 vaccine) would behave similarly to the AZD1222 viral vector DNA vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca is not supported by published evidence.

Phase 1/2 trial data of AZD1222 show a substantial specific anti-virus spike protein T-cell responses at day 7, which peaks at day 14.8
This response is not seen with BNT162b2.

Furthermore, there are marked quantitative differences in the production and duration of neutralising antibodies (NAbs). The mRNA vaccines show marked falls in NAb titres (compared with the DNA vaccine) in the period before the scheduled second dose (day 22 and day 29 for BNT162b211 and mRNA-1273 respectively), something we have specifically highlighted as occurring in all age groups.

Inevitably, NAb titres will continue to fall during days 21–85, leading to very reduced immunity and increased risk to individuals of infection, especially in frail older people.

An efficacy of 52·4% was reported out to day 22 for BNT162b2,13
and efficacy of 50–60% has been reported in observational cohort studies from Israel covering the same period.

UK's delayed second dose strategy for BNT162b2 is, in our view, a misguided conjecture. It will yield some protection for the individual after a first dose: how much, and for how long, is unknown and without patient consent.

The population risk is that the UK's delayed second dose could strongly favour the emergence of consequential SARS-CoV-2 variants resulting from sub-optimal or partial immunity. The Government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies has also documented concern about emergence of variants as a result of the delayed second dose.
Sub-optimal vaccination will create selective pressure facilitating the emergence of vaccine-resistant variants, which could result in a persisting pandemic.

Old git Carlisle said...

I am relaxed about census - I will however require hard copy on principle.

However I will not complete the many requests to complete details of my racial background or sexuality from all and sundry - even from a housing association when I complained about one of their tenants, hospital 'forms where it states voluntary even local authority.

The fact that many 'just obey orders' provides ammunition for all of the lefties to whine about BME, rainbows etc,

Elby the Beserk said...

Ah the census

My decadal oppo to cross out "gender", replace it with "sex" and note that there is NO scientific evidence that "gender" exists separate from sex, and please to correct the form.

Elby the Beserk said...

"The keeping of accurate public records is essential to civilisation as we know it"

Reasonable. If we knew the government would use the figures sensibly.

There is no evidence whatsoever that they (or any other party that might be in government) have a clue what they are doing.

Don Cox said...

"There is no evidence whatsoever that they (or any other party that might be in government) have a clue what they are doing."

They are elected to be representative of the people, who also don't have a clue what they are doing. This may seem to be a ramshackle arrangement, but the history of government by superior and unelected persons who do know what they're doing is worse. The planet is run by a wagon-load of monkeys because that's what's available.


Wiki has an interesting little article on the census in Judea in AD 6. Look up "Augustus census".

Don Cox

Anonymous said...

"A government that doesn't even know its people is not really a legitimate government at all, it's just a big, lazy, cowardly, ignorant, hulking factor ..."

Well, yes.

So, we the indigenous population have to line up and have every aspect of our lives detailed and measured.

'How do you identify? I'm transitioning to insane'.
'Male, Female,or Trans? I'm not sure, last week I was sure I was female,but this week, notso much.

But if you've just washed up off the boat, courtesy of our French friends, this way to five star accommodation, in a central London hotel of your choice. And we don't know jack shit about you, nuffink.

Frankly, **c* the government.

Elby the Beserk said...

Unknown said...
"There is no evidence whatsoever that they (or any other party that might be in government) have a clue what they are doing."

They are elected to be representative of the people, who also don't have a clue what they are doing. This may seem to be a ramshackle arrangement, but the history of government by superior and unelected persons who do know what they're doing is worse. The planet is run by a wagon-load of monkeys because that's what's available.

12:30 pm

Regardless, this shower is the pits. The pretence that they have anything to do with conservatism is only marginally less nauseating than Labour pretending they have anything to do with those who labour.