National identity flagged up in UK census…

YESTERDAY it was announced that there will be a “national identity” tick-box in the 2011 census, indicating which part of the UK people identify with. It appears at the moment to only apply to England and Wales *yawn*, but the Scots might implement it too. There’s fat chance of them introducing it to Northern Ireland though, for all the usual reasons.

  • Crataegus

    Wonder what the options will be?




    None of the above.

    Or do we list every country in the world to be inclusive?

  • eranu

    why wouldnt they introduce it to NI? if its identifying what part of the UK they’re from then its a simple

    Northern Irish

  • George

    it is which UK national identity people identify with so it can only be English, Northern Irish, Welsh or Scottish.

  • smcgiff

    This BBC link explains further. And a surprise twist in the tail (link from ATW – Shame on slugger! ;¬) )

  • DK

    “The national Census is to include a question on national identity so people can say if they consider themselves Welsh, Scottish, Irish or British” – BT article.

    What about English – people born in England make up the largest group in NI, after those born in NI.


  • smcgiff

    ‘What about English – people born in England make up the largest group in NI, after those born in NI.’

    That’s the twist I was talking about.. A bit mad really.

  • Animus

    Maybe we can pick a couple. I have dual nationality, perhaps I’ll flip a coin.

    For a number of those sorts of things, one can use British, Irish, European, non-European. I guess they could just keep perceived community and guess from there, if you would prefer. Or maybe they’ll ask what school you attended and extrapolate from there.

  • DK

    Oh, I thought the twist was that there was no “Northern Irish” category, just “Irish”.


  • smcgiff

    ‘Oh, I thought the twist was that there was no “Northern Irish” category, just “Irish”.’

    Nah – That’s as to be expected. (Slight tongue in cheek – Although I doubt your average UK citizen would comprehend the concept of Northern Irish).

  • Occasional Commentator

    Surely there are more people in NI who were born in the 26 than were born in England?

    Anyway, the census covers everyone in the UK at the time of the census, even if they weren’t born anywhere near any part of Ireland or Britain. Which box should a tourist or worker from say France tick?

    And anyway, anybody who doesn’t like the predetermined list can just add their own entries (such as “Irish” or “I’m reject any state affiliation – I’m a free person!”). If enough people do it, wouldn’t they not be under pressure to count them? Remember the Jedi were counted in the religion stats!?

    And another question – wouldn’t there be many unionists who would happily call themselves ‘Irish’. A loyal subject whose family is Irish for generations is no less Irish than a loyal Scottish subject is Scottish. So what if a portion of Ireland has left the UK? If Glasgow left the UK to form the Republic of Scotland, would loyal Edinburghians be any less Scottish as a result?

  • Occasional Commentator

    That last comment “Posted by Crataegus0 on Mar 09, 2006 @ 12:18 PM” was made by me (Occasional Commentator).

    There must be some bug in Slugger.

  • Dk

    OC said: “Surely there are more people in NI who were born in the 26 than were born in England?”

    Nope – and I was surprised to see it myself. Here are the stats in full (from census 2001 site at

    Born in England = 62K
    Born in ROI = 39K
    Born in Scotland = 17K
    Born in Wales = 3K
    Born in other EU = 10K
    Born elsewhere = 20K

  • Occasional Commentator

    That’s pretty cool. I can see that we were already told that above, but it’s just so surprising I didn’t believe it!


    — Occasional Commentator

  • PHIL

    Another piece of anti-English bigotry from the British state! I for one shall refuse to take part in this sham of a census until my nationality is recognised.


  • DK

    Had a look at the Republic of Ireland. Similar story there:

    Born in NI = 41K
    Born England/Wales = 146K
    Born in Scotland = 13K
    Born in USA = 19K
    Born elsewhere = 53K

    Don’t know why England/Wales are lumped together, while Scotland is seperate. But if they are prepared to accept born in NI as a separate category, you’d think that the UK census would accept it.


  • smcgiff


    Looks like the Beeb site got it wrong. English has now been included in revised site – Some beeb employee with a sense of humour?

  • PHIL


    You’re right, I just got an e-mail back from the census people:

    “I can confirm that we are intending to collect information for each UK national identity, including a tick-box allowing people to identify themselves as English. The omission of this category in some press reports was simply an error”

    The British state is still anti-English though!

  • smcgiff

    ‘The British state is still anti-English though!’

    I’m finding it hard to get my head around that one, Phil.

  • Stephen Copeland

    Regarding the issue of “born in” as opposed to “identify with” – they are not the same thing. Many of the people living in Ireland (north and south) who were born in England are the children of earlier emigrants, and have returned to Ireland. Many of them have never considered themselves to have been ‘English’, and have taken the opportunity of the Celtic Tiger to return home. They are Irish citizens regardless of their place of birth.

  • Stephen Copeland

    Crataegus9 on Mar 09, 2006 @ 01:47 PM was actually Stephen Copeland. So is this.

  • George

    can you e-mail them and ask what about Irish people from the Republic living in the UK.

    Will using the term “Irish” rather than “Northern Irish” not lead many of them to answer the question which would skew the figures – considering it isn’t in the UK?

  • DK


    They should really just give up and change the category to “Irish/Northern Irish”.

    Stephen – I’m sure you have stats to back this up. Actually, I do remember that there were some in another thread about Irish returning home, so that might be a start although I think that they were born in Ireland.

    On another note, doesn’t the large number of “British” in the republic put another spin on the whole immigration debate. (The census site shows that in the 5 years between censuses the number of British increased 18%, while others increased 31%, so the numbers are newly arrived as much as longer term residents)

  • People from the Republic can already identify themselves as Irish under both the nationality and ethnicity questions.
    It will be interesting to see how the nationality question meshes with the first two. I would have thought it should be part of the etnicity question.

    I think the BBC might have changed their site after this:

  • Dk


    My figures were the 1996 census. I have now found the 2002 census (, which asks nationality.

    Irish-English = 20K
    UK = 103K

    Don’t know what happened to the other 36K – maybe they now just ticked “Irish” & so may represent your returning emigrees children. USA has also dropped to 11K, suggesting the same phenomenon with it as well.

    Doesn’t seem to be a category for NI any more – they probably all ticked “Irish”.


  • topdeckomnibus

    My mother is from an Irish family who sought work in the Yorkshire mines. Her mother died when she was 8 and with her sisters she ended up in Barnardos.

    My father is the product of an old Suffolk coastal family (on his mothers side) and on his fathers side there appears to be Eastern European and a drop of Jew too.

    My wife’s mother was born in Jarrow of Norwegian parents who came to UK to seek work and ended up marching in the Jarrow march.

    My wife’s father was a Geordie giant forced to move to the “Militant” Kent coalfield after imprisonment for trades union activity in the Northern coalfields.

    So moving back the generations our forbears had Welsh troops garrisoned on them during the mid 19th century famines in England. Another line had Irish troops garrisoned on them during the 19th century famines in England.

    The Suffolk lines had Northumbrian bailliffs impose the tithe payments on them in the 1930s. And some took part in tally gang work.

    Now just why the f-ck would I want to tick any of their boxes ? (Yawn ?)

  • Biffo


    “Another line had Irish troops garrisoned on them during the 19th century famines in England”

    When you say Irish, do you mean..

    Northern Irish
    Scotch Irish

    Hopefully with a new question on the census form, we’ll know exactly who you’re talking about next time there’s a famine in England.

  • PHIL


    The British state is anti-English because it is run by and for the benefit of Scottish politicians who view England as a cash cow full of wealthy tax payers only too willing to pay for the “Peoples Republic of Caledonia”. Since devolution the elected representatives of the Scot’s (and the Welsh) have done little more than come to Westminster (England’s parlaiment until it was annexed by the British state in 1707) and interfere in English affairs (for which they have no say in their own countries as they are devolved to their respective governments) whilst denying England the same right to self determination.

    All three main political parties are as guilty as each other for perpetuating this injustice (you may care to note that all three have British, Scottish and Welsh versions of their parties and no English equivelant) so this isn’t a rant at Labour in particular, although they as the archetects of devolution must take the blame for “letting the geenie out of the lamp” so to speak.

    I hope that this helps you understand my position.


  • Biffo


    Maybe there’s a lesson here for the English – give up your habit of invading other countries, you’ll get no thanks for it in the end.


  • yellow feather

    I was born in Canada. When I get my census thing I throw it in the garbage. It just bothers me. What race am I it says, the hunman race I answer. There is not a place to say where I am from, who I identify with. If there was I would say I am from Earth where are you from? I wonder how may other poeple like me throw out the census in the garbage? Maybe alot of people aren’t even in the census? Any way you people on that small bit of land in the North Sea, have too many countries and too many problems, and too many petty arguments as well. The rich and powerful perpetuate these disagrements of course, so that they might benifit from them. Me, I am from Earth, and patriots are as smart as a headless hens, and as good as a car with no engine.

  • PHIL


    You may have a point, but as England hasn’t had the political institutions to make such decisions for nearly 300 years I don’t think that any living person could be held to account for any attrocities carried out in England’s name.


  • Brian Boru

    Why won’t they apply this to Scotland and NI?

  • abucs

    Very true Phil.

    I wish you well in your quest for English independence and/or equality.