It’s Duke Dave’s idea, to assess whether we voters are a collection of happy or sad emoticons, although to be fair to him, he has been banging on about it since at least 2006.
And he isn’t the first. Tony Blair was talking about it in 1999 in his usual vague, aspirational way and even then it wasn’t a new idea.
The former King of Bhutan, Jigme Singe Wangchuck, coined the phrase ‘gross national happiness’ in 1972 and the New Economics Foundation started to get to grips with the science bit of it a few years ago with its Happy Planet Index and National Accounts of Well-being.
In the US, Gallup Healthways publishes its Well-being Index on the web which is an interesting analysis of trends over time and state by state which shows that Hawaiians are the happiest bunnies, while their countrymen in West Virginia are a bunch of sad sacks.
But back to the UK and the Cameron ‘Happiness is…’ Plan, there is bound to be a lot of grumbling about the cost, a budget of £2 million a year to survey 200,000 just to see whether we have a smile on our collective face.
My question though is this: what will they do with that information if it shows that we are all down in the dumps? Announce an extra bank holiday? Hastily arrange another royal wedding? Bribe a FIFA official to let us win the World Cup? Remove Jimmy Carr from our tv screens forever?
Cynical me thinks that gauging the mood of the country is a fundamental tool of politics and the art of being popular. That’s why the parties employ well-paid advisers and polling companies to tell them whether an election would be a good idea or not.
Now it seems that the taxpayer will be footing the bill instead 🙁