Britology Watch: Deconstructing \’British Values\’

19 December 2009

Starting action against the ONS regarding the 2011 Census

I’ve now enquired of the Equality and Human Rights Commission about the best course of action to take regarding what I consider to be the racially discriminatory aspects of the national-identity and ethnic-group questions in the 2011 Census for England and Wales (see last post). This was following a reply from the ONS to my previous email to them. This is the text of the ONS’s response:

“Dear Mr Rickard

Thank you for your further email of 6 December regarding classification of
an ‘English’ identity in the 2011 Census. As you will be aware a question
on national identity and a question on ethnic group is to be included in
the census. Whilst these are two separate questions on the questionnaire
they are designed so that the resulting data could be combined to give
exactly the kind of detailed breakdown of ethnicity that you describe.
Rather than have a huge ethnic group question that would include separate
options for ‘English’, ‘Welsh’, ‘Scottish’, ‘Northern Irish’ etc repeated
under each of the ethnic group categories (‘White’, ‘Asian’, ‘Black’ etc),
it was decided to split the question into two to make it more
understandable for the public and easier to complete.

In this way people who feel that their ethnicity/identity is ‘White
English’, ‘Black English’, ‘Asian Welsh’, ‘Chinese Scottish’ etc; will be
able to record this directly by using the national identity and the ethnic
group questions and be classified as such in the resulting statistical
outputs. Therefore, for instance people who report that they are ‘English’
in the national identity question and ‘White’ in the ethnicity question
could therefore be classified as being of a ‘White English’ ethnic group.
The form of the output classifications will be decided in consultation with
users.

ONS believe that this allows for a much more detailed breakdown of how
people view themselves in the eventual census data tables (should this
level of data be requested)

The Census (England and Wales) Order 2009, which sets out the question
topics to be asked in the 2011 Census has recently been approved by
Parliament, without amendment.

Yours sincerely

Helen Bray”

To which I’ve replied in the following terms:

“Dear Ms Bray,

Thank you very much for your reply to my previous email and for your further explanation of the thinking behind the national-identity and ethnic-group categories in the Census for 2011.
I feel, however, that you have not addressed my three main points:
  1. that non-white people are not treated equally with respect to recognition of their English (or Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish) ethnicity
  2. that white people are not treated equally with respect to recognition of ‘English’, ‘Welsh’, ‘Scottish’ and ‘N. Irish’ as distinct ethnic-group categories that are as valid as the sub-categories for the non-white ethnic groups
  3. and that, overall, the form is racially discriminatory in that it assumes the existence of two forms of Britishness: a racial-ethnic Britishness reserved for whites only and a national Britishness available to non-whites alongside whites.
I do not accept your argument that the ability for respondents to break down their national identity by English, Welsh, Scottish, Northern Irish or British allows them to specify their ethnic group in relation to the same national categories. This is clearly a logically flawed statement unless the national-identity and ethnic-group categories are so fluid as to be epistemologically useless. In the case of someone ticking the ‘English’ box under national identity and the ‘White – English / Welsh / Scottish / N. Irish / British’ box under ethnic group, no objective inference can be made that they either belong or see themselves as belonging to any white-English ethnic group. And indeed, you yourself say that the outputs from these two questions will be translated into ‘statistics’ about ethnic-group identity only on the basis of user requirements that they be interpreted in this way, not on the basis of any objective analysis.
 
I also do not accept your contention that by listing separate ‘English’, ‘Welsh’, ‘Scottish’, ‘Northern Irish’ and ‘British’ sub-categories applying to each of the primary ethnic-group headings, the form would become too unwieldy and complicated. This is purely a matter of form design. It would be very simple to just separate out the question into two parts: one dealing with ‘race’ (e.g. White, Mixed, Asian, Black, Other) and one with ethnic group (English, Welsh, Scottish, N. Irish, British, Indian, Pakistani, etc.). This would make a correct distinction between race and ethnic group, which are currently muddied by the form in ways that are racially discriminatory, as I’ve argued previously: Britishness being associated intrinsically with ethnic group in the case of white people (because ethnic group is being confused with the idea of a white-British race), whereas it is denied as an ethnic-group classification applicable to non-whites.
 
This sort of break-down would, in addition, truly fulfil the objective of producing an accurate statistical picture of how people view themselves in national, racial and ethnic terms. Take your example of a Welsh Asian person. Let’s say that person views themselves as Welsh in terms of national identity and in terms of their ethnic group, on the basis that they were born and brought up in Wales, and see their culture and social group as Welsh. Your form forces such a person to declare a non-Welsh ethnic-group identity that is a sub-category of Asian, such as Indian, Pakistani, etc. This may be entirely alien to the way that person views themselves and imposes a sort of ethnic-racial segregation of the population that runs counter to the goal of an ethnically integrated society.
 
If what you are really trying to canvass in the ethnic-group question is something that could be described as ‘family history / cultural background’ (including history of immigration), then you should perhaps indicate this explicitly. Otherwise, the form appears to violate the equality, dignity and human rights of British citizens by imposing on them ethnic classifications that treat them differently purely on the basis of race and migration, rather than respecting how they see themselves or are seen by others.
 
As for your indication that Parliament has now approved the form, this has no bearing on the charge of racial discrimination. Parliament has arguably lost much of its moral authority in recent times, and the UK Parliament is not a representative democratic body for England, unlike the Scottish Parliament, which has backed a Census form that does allow white and non-white Scots to refer to their ethnic group as Scottish. It does not come as any surprise that the UK Parliament should have approved a Census form, supposedly for England, that does not recognise the existence of an English ethnic group – open to those of all racial backgrounds – when the same Parliament and government have consistently sought to suppress any notion of English nationhood in virtually all their actions and legislation.
 
For the above reasons, I consider that there is still a case of racial discrimination to be answered, and I intend to take this forward in some form, whether through the EHRC or another channel.
 
Yours sincerely,
 
 
 
David Rickard”

I’ll keep you posted about further developments.

Advertisements

6 Comments »

  1. And here lies the problem of multi cultural multi racial civic Britain.

    Those supporters of a civic identity who consider anyone and everyone as being potentially English, Welsh, Scottish etc cannot abide anything whch may omit someone from any racial group.

    For the civic minded, there is no English identity or Welsh identity because anyone can be English, if they think they are.

    The civic cannot define a person by colour because to them English etc has no colour
    The civic cannot define a person by culture because England is multi cultural
    England is multi lingual, multi religion, multi everything.

    The ONS are trying to define identities and to the civics anyone defining a racial group has got to be racist.

    Maybe you ought to suggest they write down
    WHITE(please write in)……………..
    Black (please write in)…………….
    Mixed race(please write in)………… etc

    This way anyone can be anything.

    I think I will be a White Zulu or a White Japanese.

    Because the civics want everyone to be able to be anything identity doesnt exist except in the persons head.

    This is a ridiculas argument because identity is a two way street.

    Identity is not only who I think I am it is who others think I am.

    As a White man I wouldnt be accepted as being Somalian, because I dont have Somalian identity. I can consider myself as being Somalian all day long but I have to be accepted by the Somalians as Somalian.

    You wrote above;

    Take your example of a Welsh Asian person. Let’s say that person views themselves as Welsh in terms of national identity and in terms of their ethnic group, on the basis that they were born and brought up in Wales, and see their culture and social group as Welsh.

    Your form forces such a person to declare a non-Welsh ethnic-group identity that is a sub-category of Asian, such as Indian, Pakistani, etc. This may be entirely alien to the way that person views themselves and imposes a sort of ethnic-racial segregation of the population that runs counter to the goal of an ethnically integrated society

    Second paragraph…no he wouldnt.
    You said he was a Welsh Asian so he would tick Welsh identity and then write in Welsh in the any other Asian background.

    Thus he has declared his identity as Welsh
    and his ethnicity as Asian Welsh

    Or is it that you just have a problem with an Asian having to write in Welsh?

    If your going to go with the Race Relations Act then you would, I believe, have to fight on grounds of INDIRECT DISCRIMINATION.
    I have shown that your Asian Welshman can define himself thus. The ONS will have to prove that they did the best that they can to allow a person to define himself in any idnetity.
    Im not a lawyer, but I think you havent a leg to stand on. The Asian Welshman can define himself as being an Asian Welshman.

    The only discrimination is the fact that he didnt have an Asian Welshman tickbox

    This would lead to claims of racial discrimination from Black Welshmen, Mixed race Welshmen and White Welshmen ditto the English Scottish British and Northern Irish.

    Proof that civic mentality is derainged ha ha

    The ONS allows every civic dual identity to be declared.
    Your argument if i read it correctly is purely down to not having a tickbox for every identity known to man.

    Comment by Andy — 22 December 2009 @ 12.20 am | Reply

    • Actually, my real objection is that the form doesn’t recognise any sort of English ethnic-group identity, whether white (racial) or non-white (cultural). It presupposes the existence of a ‘white-British’ race of which ‘English’ is a sub-category that applies only to white persons. As a white person, you could write in ‘English’, but the ONS will read that back as essentially ‘British’ and regards ‘English’ as more properly a term for national identity (the national identity of part of the ethnic-British population) rather than ethnic group. As your comment on my post on the Joseph Rowntree Trust suggests, you yourself are somewhat unclear on the distinction between ethnic English and ethnic British.

      Similarly, a Black Englishman could write in ‘English’ under ethnic group, but the ONS would again fundamentally regard that as a marker of national identity not of ethnicity defined in relation to culture. And the design of the form discourages non-white people from even thinking they are entitled to write in whatever they want, because not even ‘British’, let alone ‘English’, is indicated as an ‘acceptable’ or standard sub-category for the non-white groups, which could lead them to tick ‘African’ – or whatever – even if they have no connection to any African culture or group in society.

      Under ethnic group, the form should allow anyone of any race to select from a number of common British and non-British cultures without discrimination, and should make a clear distinction between race, ethnic group and national identity, which are three distinct categories. At the moment, by the form’s imposition of the concept of a white-British racial group, English identity becomes merely a self-selecting / subjective term for white people only. This infringes the right of white English people to be recognised as such, and denies to non-white English people even a British ethnic identity equivalent to that of whites – so they are doubly discriminated against: neither English nor, really, British.

      Comment by David — 23 December 2009 @ 3.38 am | Reply

  2. David: You wrote;
    As your comment on my post on the Joseph Rowntree Trust suggests, you yourself are somewhat unclear on the distinction between ethnic English and ethnic British……….

    Not at all. I know exactly who I consider the English. I reject the notion of a civic English as it undermines the ethnic English identity.
    However I dont waste my breath arguing with those who believe in the civic nonsense because it is only they who have no sense of identity.
    As I hold no loyalty to Britishness, you can keep that civic multi racial non identity.
    The deepening recession, mass immigration, job loss and bankruptcy of this country will see an end to the soft tolerent (complacent) civic beliefs, I dont need to continually drive holes through civic idiocy because apart from the civics it is a papermache thin veneer of a non identity.

    The Rowntree Trust in 2005 had a survey on Britishness/Englishness done and even your Black and Asian English had more respect for English identity then the civics do.
    NO black or asian considered themselves English as they considered English to be the indiginous people of England. Though they did consider themselves British as thin an identity as being a European.

    Come Mr Tory black fists race riots (and we have already had them in this country) I know whos side I will be safest on.

    So no, I am not the slightest bit confused, no matter how many times you say it. The English have an identity…a Scot can be mistaken as English how would that occur if he hadnt adopted English identity?

    A Somalian would only be considered English by civics, and you would have to ask him before you had any idea.

    You wrote;

    Under ethnic group, the form should allow anyone of any race to select from a number of common British and non-British cultures without discrimination, and should make a clear distinction between race, ethnic group and national identity, which are three distinct categories………

    Ohhh the scary big word, DISCRIMINATION. Like RACIST, an overused term to get the English to meekly sit back and allow the civics to erase their identity.
    If it wasnt for the civics I would need ONE box to identify myself ENGLISH, as identifiable (to non civics) as someone calling themselves; PAKISTANI, SOMALIAN,or CHINESE.

    Comment by Andy — 23 December 2009 @ 8.59 am | Reply

    • Andy, if you’re not confused about the distinction between the ethnic English and the ethnic British, what do you understand by “the White British/English”, which is the phrase you used in your comment on the JRT post? You seem to agree with the ONS that there is a ‘white-British’ race to which both the English and the Scots belong. Or am I misinterpreting you?

      For the record, I’m not arguing in favour of a merely civic-national identity: that is what I understand by ‘national identity’ as used in the Census. By ‘ethnic identity’, I understand something along the lines of ‘culture’ combined with tribe or kinship. I don’t believe that members of a particular culture / tribe have to be all of the same race; but they do need to be accepted by the other members of the group and to live as one of them, sharing their culture, practices and values. My view is that the Census sets out to divide the English tribe, as such, along racial lines; indeed, it sets out to eradicate any idea of an English ethnic group altogether: white-British people are seen as ethnically British rather than English; and non-white-British people are not even seen as ethnically British in my sense of the term, let alone yours.

      So I see myself as standing up for an English cultural identity as well as civic rights in the face of a British establishment that is trying to deny both things. What are you defending: ethnic Englishness or ethnic Britishness?

      Comment by David — 23 December 2009 @ 11.32 am | Reply

  3. David:
    What I meant by White English/British are;
    White English, because of the confusion caused by the civic English identity if i had wrote English/British then people would confuse my meaning as being the civic English. White English generally conveys the meaning of the ethnic English. I would rather to be able to just write ‘English’, just as if i wrote Somalian or Pakistani then people would immidiately know my identity by colour, racial features, language, culture, history ancestry etc.

    White British as in the term European it is mearly an umberella term for the three indiginous racial groups of Britain, English, Scottish and Welsh. Saves saying English, Scottish and Welsh every time.

    When tory black fist is out on his race riots to exterminate my ENGLISH racial group and take control of my country he wont be stopping at the border.

    So: my use of the term white English is for the ‘civics’ so they know im not talking about their English. Confused, blame the civics.
    For me there is only one ENGLISH racial group.
    For the civics there are an undefinable amount.

    I agree that an ethnic group has to be part of a ‘tribe’ to be accepted by the host as being a member. Membership is a two way street.
    Do you think that most English accept Pakistanis or Blacks as being English?

    Im not talking about some brother in law or some mate thats as English as blah blah blah, Im talking about some total stranger walking down the street.
    Do you truely think that he is considered as being as English as the English

    Or do you think most people would think ‘bloody foreigner’?

    And, its not just about colour, Polish….not English, Scottish not English.

    English have an identity of which colour is a part.

    A Scot can be mistaken as English if he has English identity.
    If there were no such thing, no matter how shallow then how could the mistake be made?

    The census that you claim sets out to divide the English tribe is only trying to appease you civics. Your idea of multi ethnic identity means that they cannot be specific, which is my argument all along.
    The Civic idea that English can be black, white, brown asian, multi lingual, mutli cultural multi everything, means that the census has to be as unclear and wide ranging so as not to upset anyone. Yet the civics still find fault.

    I know who my tribe are and are not. Do you think your welcome into Tory black fists tribe?
    When they confront you on the street will you win them over with your multi racial English ideals? I suggest you cover your head and run like hell.

    To many of the readers I will be considered as some white racist because i chose to oppose civic bullshyte and respect my ethnic identity.

    The government have told us that our population will grow by another 10 million people by 2030ish of which 75% will be immigrant.

    Most new jobs are going to ethnic minorities

    White boys are doing worst in schools

    Positive discrimination (shit, discrimination is discrimination)
    Miss Black great Briton
    100 great blacks
    Black housing federation
    black police federation etc

    Harriet Harmans new Equality Bill which means if two people go for the same job and are of equal ability then the black gets the job on colour grounds is legal.

    Racist!

    The English are treated as second class people in their own country and if civic idealists had their way my English would soon be removed by your English.

    the above proves just how Anglophobic the civics really are, there is no defence for this discriminatory agenda. Luckily for them Tony Blair did away with the Treason act

    Comment by Andy — 23 December 2009 @ 2.06 pm | Reply

    • Andy, you wrote: “I agree that an ethnic group has to be part of a ‘tribe’ to be accepted by the host as being a member. Membership is a two way street. Do you think that most English accept Pakistanis or Blacks as being English?”

      You’re right: acceptance / inclusion is a two-way street, and I think a lot of English people (however defined) do accept blacks or Asians as English if they affirm themselves as English and have an English way of life. However, if those ethnic groups assert a non-English identity (e.g. Pakistani), then they neither see themselves nor are generally seen as English. Fair enough.

      However, the British establishment, of which the ONS is a part, encourages ethnic minorities to see themselves as British, in the civic sense, and definitely not as English. So you’re quite wrong when you state that the ‘civics’ (or the British liberal establishment) try to turn blacks and Asians into English people. Far from it, and the ONS form illustrates what their actual approach is: it formally recognises only a ‘British’-national identity for racial minorities. Admittedly, it does allow racial minorities to describe themselves as English in the civic sense. But that refers just to ‘nations’ in the political sense of the term, not to ethnic-racial groups; and in any case, the ONS states that such national identities are subjective and so have nothing to do with any notion of objective ethnic-racial classification, such as we’re debating.

      If anything, I’d say the ONS’s approach is closer to your perspective than mine, as the ONS’s ethnic categories do make a clear divide between a white-British ethnic group (of which English, Scottish, etc. are subsets) and other ethnic-racial groups that are not formally recognised as ethnically British (let alone ethnically English). So for you, there should be no problem in filling in the ethnic-group part of the form: all you would need to do is write in ‘English’ as a subset of ‘white’, which is the only racial heading under which ‘English’ is referred to on the form. I’ll probably end up ticking ‘white’ and then writing in ‘white’ again, on the basis that it’s mainly canvassing information on race, and I don’t accept the concept of an English race or ethnic group that is exclusively white – which you appear to do.

      But you’re quite wrong in ascribing liberal British-establishment views to me about the white English and immigration. I’m extremely critical about the government’s approach to these subjects, and I view New Labour as anglophobic and racist in some of the ways you describe. See my posts under ‘anglophobia’ or ‘immigration’, for instance.

      Happy Christmas, and God bless England!

      Comment by David — 24 December 2009 @ 1.08 pm | Reply


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: