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 ...)