My initial reaction to receiving the 2011 census form - or to be more precise long winded looking booklet - was one of irritation. Several pages of questions apply to each member of the household and any visitors staying at the house as at today 27th March 2011. The questions are quite intrusive and relate to matters which really are no one else's business to know other than the individuals about whom they are asked. The maytrees household is also quite large and the numbers of pages/questions increase with the size of the household rendering the process of responding much more tedious than for one person households.
Then although politics are not supposed to be part of the census bureaucracy the sanction of £1000 fines for failing to complete the plethora of personal questions may offend those on the political right more than those on the left.
Those on the right tend to extol the virtues of individual self reliance and those on the left tend to the .compulsory sharing of socialism. A compulsory census form provides more information for the common good whilst prospectively making rendering more difficult for the individual to reap the personal harvest of his own endeavours.
On balance a census once every 10 years or so seems justified on the grounds that working for the Common Good having been formally extolled in 1996 by the Bishops of England and Wales, identifying what the common good might require some knowledge of what comprises society in these lands today. A census in which individual responses are kept confidential for a generation or more seems the least worst intrusion into private life. Some other countries deal with the need for such information by maintaining public registers. Perhaps their citizens are a more homogenous group than those of the UK or have less tolerance for idyosyncracies than historically has been the case here.
Overall; the tedium and irritation of the process are less important than the potential for enhancing the common good that the information should provide.
The key question not asked on the census form though, is whether the citizens trust their government to use the information wisely? Endeavouring to answer that question correctly is what leads to the huge spectrum of political views - the more one trusts the state, the more logical is socialism, the more one trusts individual self reliance, the more attractive is conservatism.