Fabian Richter, the candidate for Bath, explains why he is campaigning against intrusive questions on Government census forms.
Last month, my neighbours in Bath got a letter from the Office of National Statistics. Like thousands of others across Britain, they had been selected at random to participate in the trial of the 2011 census forms. “Great”, they thought, “that will give us a chance to provide some feedback.” Little did they expect that what they were going to see would upset them so much that they would lobby me, their parliamentary candidate, to launch a petition against the trial census.
I hasten to add that these are civic-minded, law-abiding citizens who have accurately filled in every previous census form. But that made their predicament even worse. They realised that, while participation in the trial version was voluntary, not filling in the real census in 2011 would result in a fine of £1,000. And some of the questions added to this new version made them feel very tempted to chuck the entire thing in the bin.
For the first time in Britain’s history, people will have to tell state inspectors in detail about their health and their sexual orientation. What is more, they also have to write down how often and why they stay in another home. So if you and your partner live in different homes, and you spend your weekends together, you now may have to inform the authorities how many nights you stay over with their girlfriend or boyfriend.