The government will attempt to measure the happiness of UK citizens, it is expected to announce later this month. The Office for National Statistics is to devise questions for a household survey, to be carried out up to four times a year. This follows calls by David Cameron, when leader of the opposition, to look at "general wellbeing", arguing there was "more to life than money". Downing Street promised an announcement "reasonably soon". Happiness measuring is expected to begin as soon as next spring with the results published regularly, possibly on a quarterly basis.
From the BBC News Website
I thought the last UK government had some crackpot ideas but I shouldn't really be surprised that the Tory/Lib Dem coalition have surpassed the likes of Gordon Brown and Tony Blair. I look forward to receiving my questionnaire - and hopefully there will be a government statistician to deliver it.
2011 will be a year of severe financial hardship for many. Job losses will be in hundreds of thousands. The cost of living will rise drastically - the rise in VAT in January will accelerate this. Benefits will be cut to many who rely on it as the prospect of employment diminishes. Interest rates will rise steeply next year. Thousands of people will have their homes repossessed and will be on the streets. Crime is at appalling levels. The health service is in crisis. Yet, Lord Young, an advisor to the government said earlier this week that the nation had never had it so good. Now, Prime Minister David Cameron wants to gauge how happy the nation is. And I thought Margaret Thatcher was out of touch...
It doesn't take a genius to believe not many people will be happy in the months ahead. I suspect that, being something of a nanny state, the government will give 'advice' on how we should be living. I can see the inevitable website being set up (www.yerhavingalarf.com), Happiness Enforcers being employed and advertising campaigns urging people to be happy. Just as the right to smoke cigarettes is being eradicated, I can see the right to be downright miserable also being taken away.
You may say I should count my blessings. I have two lovely daughters and three wonderful grandchildren. I have a job - for now. I have a house - for now. I have a football team, Heart of Midlothian, doing quite well - for now. Fair points. However, like millions of others, I also have a mortgage, debt, a job that is high pressure and at times all-empowering and health issues.
I will make my way to work at the beginning of another working week on a cold, dark, miserable morning with the rain teeming down and the wind driving in my face. The bus will be full of bloody students meaning I can't get a seat. Once at work, the phone will be ringing non-stop, every man, woman and their dog will demand something from me. After a tense day it will take me more than a hour to get home and I will collapse wearily on to the sofa. Companies will have sent communications demanding money from me, the television will be rubbish (I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here - how much is there left to scrape at the bottom of the television barrel?) and there will be someone from a call centre in darkest Calcutta urging me to switch my mobile phone company.
And then there's the continuing onslaught of Christmas. Ho, ho, bloody ho.
The best thing that the government could do is to get out of our lives and allow us to live as we wish – anything else is none of their damned business. Monitoring happiness? Try visiting chez Smith at 7.30pm on Monday. I wouldn't advise bringing a clipboard though - rather like David Cameron you may find it disappearing up your own arse...