A Step in the Right Direction

While I have been critical of the coalition’s record on liberty, I am also willing to acknowledge when they get things right and Eric Pickles, by and large[sic] does seem to be making the right noises. Today we see him taking on those nasty, intrusive questionnaires so beloved of local government (and the NHS).

The government is telling councils to stop asking questions about people’s sexuality, race and health in surveys.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles is issuing guidelines for councils about asking for personal information.

These remove the requirement for local authorities to conduct “intrusive lifestyle and diversity” surveys.

And jolly good, too. Not only are they extremely wasteful of our tax pounds, they are interfering and nosey. When I want to take up services from my local council (not often, I grant you) I do not expect them to ask me personal questions about my lifestyle, health, ethnicity or religion.

Last spring when Mrs L and I were doing battle over our council tax and attempting to secure some benefits to help us through a tricky patch we received a questionnaire –  or two, or three. I lost count. They went in the bin, which is exactly where they deserved to end up. The level of questioning –  and we received several because the council wants to know each time you deal with a different department and on each occasion that you do so, it seems –  was ostensibly about *customer satisfaction, but also included the obligatory diversity nonsense. All of it went unanswered. Just as any diversity questions on job applications go unanswered. Although I notice more and more that these ones have a “prefer not to say” option. I wonder if they are getting the message? Oh, yes, I always prefer not to say :twisted:.

The Department for Communities and Local Government said that its one-page statutory guidance replaces “the 56 pages of John Prescott’s so-called ‘Best Value’ guidance”.

56 pages, for crying out loud. If Pickles can condense it onto  a one page affair, what was Prescott thinking? Okay, thinking is, perhaps the wrong word here, but you get the drift.

Apparently, some councils were asking about whether people had AIDS, diabetes or were transgender. My reaction to being asked any of these questions would be a massive WTF!?! Rapidly followed by “It’s none of your damned business!” Yet there are many –  one of my sisters included –  who will willingly answer each and every question truthfully. I expect she was honest on her census form, too.

As a general rule of thumb, I do not answer any questionnaires, surveys, customer satisfaction happy sheets or anything that wants information from me that I am not willing to volunteer without a prompt. And when it comes to government of whichever hue, the less we tell them about ourselves, the better, frankly.

An Equality and Human Rights Commission spokeswoman said: “Collecting personal information allows councils to target services where they are needed most.

“However, there is a balancing act to be done between the need to protect a person’s privacy and the need for councils to collect this information.”

There is no balancing act. Provide the service to those who pay the taxes and keep your nose out of people’s private affairs. It really couldn’t be much simpler than that. Those who need services have tongues in their heads, they can ask. It’s why we have telephones and postage stamps and these days, email.

So, Eric, you keep frying those chipolatas.

*I am not a customer of the council. They take money from me by force and spend it on stuff I don’t want. This is not a customer/supplier relationship. It is the relationship that exists between protection racketeers and their victims.

23 comments for “A Step in the Right Direction

  1. September 3, 2011 at 6:53 am

    Credit where credit’s due, indeed.

    I want to see what he does when (as is as inevitable as Christmas) some carry on with the practice…

    • Timozweb
      September 3, 2011 at 8:45 am

      I strongly suspect you are right. You will probably find that the councils say they have to ask these questions to comply with some EU directive, which this bunch of lefty clowns have done nothing about, despite getting into office through promising to do so. So we will have one broken promise directly leading to another.

      • September 3, 2011 at 9:52 am

        They usually play the diversity card. Or, as the EHCR tried to do, the targeting resources nonsense. If a resident wants a library ticket or wants to talk to someone about their rubbish collection, beyond that transaction, no information is required. The council provides its services to all of the residents equally – or it should. No questionnaires asking personal and private information are required to do that. There is no need to target anything.

    • September 3, 2011 at 9:49 am

      All we can do for the moment is wait and see. He is right, though, why does a council need to know about your sexuality before issuing a library card?

    • ReefKnot
      September 3, 2011 at 5:14 pm

      Of course they will carry on. The new guidlines merely ‘remove the requirement for local authorities to conduct “intrusive lifestyle and diversity” surveys.’ They don’t prohibit them. When Teresa May abolished the ‘Policing Pledge’ many forces either ignored the order or carried on but with a new name for it. Eric will have to be much stronger.

      • Ringmer
        September 4, 2011 at 5:50 pm

        I think you’ll find the “Seven Strands of Diversity” industry will just keep a-rollin’ until the government actively ceases to ‘recognise’ (i.e. directly sponsor) it.

  2. BJ
    September 3, 2011 at 10:49 am

    The problem with this is that the people who ‘have rights’ – and are made aware of those rights by that tier of obnoxious redistributionists that inhabits our social sphere – will always be the ones to shout the loudest, thus being given more.

    The majority of hard working people just go about their lives and make no demands at all -creating an unequal system.

    The hard done-by have become experts at creating a sphere of ethnic/sexually orientated/disadvantaged victimhood – they use this to fleece the rest of us.

    But, hurrah for Pickles – it’s just what I hoped he would do.

    And it does away with the tiers of bureaucracy that go with the data gathering.

  3. LJH
    September 3, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    Ethnicity is my personal bugbear. As a pale product of empire with offspring via some Middle Eastern genes, ticking which box is whimsy. My daughters’ schools encouraged them to be Afro-Asian but culturally, socially, physically we are wholely middleclass English.

    • nisakiman
      September 3, 2011 at 10:36 pm

      Isn’t it absolute codswallop.

      As you point out, BJ, what the fuck difference does it make what your ethnic origins are? Christ, am I supposed to tell them that I’m an Anglo-Saxon / Celtic mix? (I’m just making that up – in reality, I haven’t got a clue.)

      It is so not-relevant to anything that I’m amazed people still bother to try to segregate out ethnicities. I mean….Why?

  4. Furor Teutonicus
    September 3, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    Liberty, whilst they are on this kind of hobby horse, could well do something about this idea that all C.Vs MUST have a phgotograph of the applicant attached.

    Why? So they can tell if your black enough, Too Jewish looking, your nose is too big? WHY exactly if not an aid to descrimination?

    (I mean here for “Government” or local authority jobs, although the practice is wide spread in the private sector as well).

    • September 3, 2011 at 1:05 pm

      Having been job hunting for eighteen months now and submitted my CV to numerous organisations, I’ve not been asked for a photograph once – so the private sector doesn’t seem to have mounted this particular hobby horse yet. Or at least, not the ones I’ve been applying to.

      What I have done is carefully exclude any information on the CV that gives away clues about age, ethnicity or even gender – apart from my name, of course…

      • Furor Teutonicus
        September 3, 2011 at 5:33 pm

        It is “normal” in Europe, so it WILL come to you.

        • September 4, 2011 at 12:06 am

          A couple of years ago, an employment agency gave me a short registration form which included the diversity questions on race and sexuality. I just drew a line through that portion. The expression on the two recruiters’ faces was priceless. Evidently, the rest of their applicants, it would seem, complete it.

          • September 4, 2011 at 6:02 am

            Of course. Like the good little sheep they are.

    • September 4, 2011 at 6:01 am

      Well, we could always bat it away by adopting this barmy idea..? 😆

  5. Thornavis.
    September 3, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    Actually the real reason for all this nonsense is nothing to do with targeting services or avoiding discrimination or any other specious reason that they trot out, it’s all about box ticking and auditing. There is no shortage of well meaning but dim people who fondly imagine that this stuff helps whatever identity group they happen to be emoting about but the only people who gain from this are council services managers who can proudly present a shedload of bogus figures proving that they’re meeting their targets. This is the way the world operates now, the only thing you need get right in many jobs is the piece of paper that says you’re getting it right.

    • Mudplugger
      September 4, 2011 at 10:29 am

      It’s even worse than just box-ticking and auditing, or even the piece of paper that says you’re getting it right.

      It’s actually just ‘arse-coverage’ – vast amounts of procedure and resources are being expended simply to cover the arses of the public authority jobsworths, for whenever anyone raises a question about any form of discrimination. So long as they can cover their arses, whether they are discriminating or not, that’s all that matters.

      Equally, it’s not about the piece of paper that says you’re getting it right, it’s actually about the piece of paper which says you went through the correct process, whether you got it right or not. Remember some Maths exams where you could get all the marks for doing the process right, even though the answer was hopelessly wrong – it’s the same nonsense here.

      Let’s hope Porky Pickles manages to carry it through, hopefully with some positive bans on all that wasteful nonsense.

  6. September 3, 2011 at 6:25 pm

    As a general rule of thumb, I do not answer any questionnaires, surveys, customer satisfaction happy sheets or anything that wants information from me that I am not willing to volunteer without a prompt.

    More than a general rule – a golden rule.

    • September 3, 2011 at 7:21 pm

      Alternatively say yes to everything, even questions that don’t have a yes or no answer. Name and address: Mr Yes, Yes Street, Yes, Yes, Yessex, YE5 7ES. How many cars do you have? Yes. What is the householder’s favourite music? Yes. Okay, maybe that’s a bad example but unless it’s true it’s still useless to them.

      • nisakiman
        September 3, 2011 at 10:41 pm

        Didn’t you slip in a couple of “no”s to add interest?

  7. Lord T
    September 4, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    It may be a single step in the right direction but it has to be taken in context.

    1) Every other fucker is running the other way.
    2) It does not even keep us standing still for long enough to notice. One guy out of 640 stops for three seconds. It is all one way.
    3) This is inconsequential. It really is a snowflake in hell and only slightly more use. To them of course not to us as;
    4) It is PR. Pure and simple.

  8. David A. Evans
    September 5, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    While they’re at it, can they stop printing things in 15 different languages?

Comments are closed.