I am in favour of the census and like many, I’m sure, have used previous census records in researching my family history. But I very much doubt that today major political decisions are made using census information.
We live in a data rich society. We don’t need a census to tell us about the gross inequalities in Britain and yet our politicians have consistently failed to do anything about it. Did you know that there is a high correlation between wealth and COVID ? The richest postcodes have the fewest number of cases. The poorest the highest. It’s not a secret, but have you heard a government Minister mention it let alone propose to do anything about it?
Then there’s education, where there is a clear North/South divide. The postcodes with the more expensive homes (mainly in the South of England) are also the ones with the better performing schools and pupils. Are you aware of a levelling up policy that seeks to change this?
Virtually every demographic reveals that there are two Britains just as much as there were in Disraeli’s day. ‘Twas ever thus you might say but does it have to be? Consumer research is highly sophisticated in our digital age – there need be very little we don’t know or can’t find out. But data collection is one thing, taking action is another.
Our nation has a collective obsession with secrecy. The preposterous but successful campaign against ID Cards was driven by absurd notions of privacy. We accept the need for a driving licence but try and expand that a tad into an ID Card and the faux-libertarians take to the streets.
So I will willingly fill in my Census form and have no secrets to withhold. But will there be any actual action based on analysis of census data that will make my life better? I’m not holding my breath.