Sir John was appointed to run a part of Hong Kong’s – very light – bureaucracy just after WWII ended. It took him many moths to get there given transport links at the time. He said that, by the time he arrived, they seemed to be doing well without him doing very much. He thought it best to keep to that plan thereafter.
One aspect of this was that he banned the collection of GDP statistics. On the grounds that some damn fool would only try and do something with them:
What can be done to fix this? In the early 1960s, it was decided that an extra 1966 census was needed for the planning required to “build back better” from 1950s austerity. It was the precursor to the most comprehensive census of all time, held in 1971. This census told us who had hot running water in their kitchen sink and where housing need was most acute. Since those times, censuses have been cut back in scope. The 2001 census was the last one to ask what floor level a family lived on in a block of flats, allowing us to know that the majority of children in England above the fifth floor were not white, a fact that meant a great deal more after the Grenfell tragedy than before it.
A 2026 census could be used to ascertain if any local levelling up has occurred overall. To date, we have seen levelling down, because of the way the government has dealt with the pandemic. A 2026 census could assess how much we have recovered – or not – in the five years from March 2021. It would fill the gaps in the record. A government that was serious about levelling up, as the 1960s governments were, would plan for a 2026 census now.
That’s Danny Dorling so we’ve got our damn fool. Now the only question is what idiocy would he do with the information is collected?