back to article UK Gov seeks 'scientific' basis for nationality

Attempts to define race through science haven't had an entirely positive press subsequent to the collapse of the Third Reich, but the Weird Science Department of the UK Government could well be skittering on that very patch of thin ice. Lord Triesman, the Prime minister's Special Envoy for Returns, this week said that work on …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    *legal residence* is not the same as *genetic nationality*

    Well thats nice, so you test Freema Agyeman of Dr Who, find she's Iranian and ship her off to Iran.

    Oh wait, you'd be testing the wrong thing, since you want to know the legal residence of someone not their genetic nationality.

    Sounds like they started with DNA database and said 'well what use can we put this to that sounds plausible'.

  2. Richard

    Not easy!

    DNA can determine ethnicity (racial origin) but not nationality - and would probably need to look at many more markers than the current UK database uses. It may be possible to identify the geographical origin or long-term abode of someone by analysing ratios of elements and isotopes in bone or teeth, for instance, but I think this may be a step too far in terms of giving a sample!

  3. Mike Richards

    The Home Office slogan

    is 'Building a Safe, Just and Tolerant Society'

    Which, in the light of Triesman's statement, is about as ironic as 'Arbeit Macht Frei'.

  4. Colonel Panic

    Call a sawbones...

    I remember reading an article on forensics which used radio-isotope profiling to reveal where some lived. As you drink the local water, a particular set of radio-isotopes will be absorbed into your system and deposited in your bones.

    The distribution and proportion of the different isotopes can be used to identify the region you came from.

    There are only two problems: I'm not sure if the technique can necessarily distinguish a person who grew up in France from one who just happens to have a penchant for Evian.

    The other is that if I remember rightly, it requires analysis of your bones.

    But I'm sure that that's covered by the Identity Cards Act.. just step zis vay, sir, ve need ein zmall piece of your skull...

  5. Thomas Steven

    Ooooh! Aren't we so Italy to America's Germany

    So what's next? We're all drafted, our kids are recruited into the Blair Youth and encouraged to dob their parents in if they say nice things about anyone whose head doesn't measure up.

    Of course given the imminent departure of Mr. Blair, they will all actually all be Brownshirts.

    I'm pretty sure I've got my jackboot polishing kit and my bicycle round here somewhere, so I guess I'm ready to invade Cornwall to put down the rebellion.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Could the prevalence of species of radioisotopes in hair be used? The spectrum of micronutrients in the environment the subject has been living in should be reflected in inert tissue like hair. Useless if they've been in this country for any length of time, but potentially helpful indentifying the gepraphic locale where they were most recently, without any odious racial profiling being necessary...

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Press release

  8. amlendu

    Ghengis Khan

    Whats about the 16 million Ghengis Khan descendants !!

  9. RichardB

    Its starting to sound quite horribly wrong.

    RFID tagged IdCards linked to a DNA supercomputer to track your every move.

    3000+ new laws

    Abolition of principles from Magna Carta, the foundation of our society.

    More belligerent wars than you can shake a finger at.

    "Chemical Castration" - which turns out to be enforced behaviour modifying chemicals for undesirables.

    Demonisation of and Mass detention centers for undesirables.

    Criminalisation of peacefull protest.

    The intent to identify potential undesirables based on environmental influences and demographics before they grow up to be fully flegded undesirables.

    And now this? I can't quite decide which century we are allowing ourselves to be propelled back to, but it surely ain't looking to be pretty.

  10. Rose

    Well, look at old South Africa

    where they used measurements like thickness of hair to determine an individual's "race" classification. Clearly a great idea that worked really well.

    Obviously Triesman thinks ethics is an English county.

    No doubt with my blood group I'd get shipped off to Afghanistan, where it's far more common than in the UK.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Jutes go home!

    At last! Now we can deport the descendents of all the Saxons back to Saxony, the Jutes back to Jutland, the Danes back to Denmark and the Angles back to wherever they came from! Britain for the Brits - Cymru am byth!

  12. Andy Barber


    The words "Bolting", "Doors" & "Horse" spring to mind!

  13. El Veg

    Is truth serum "scientific"?

    Ply the poor bastards with the sodium pentothal and valium... and hear 'em sing!

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What a marvellous idea

    My great-grandparents all emigrated to Africa, where the succeeding generations of my family were bred, taking care to keep only to the imported bloodline.

    That is reportedly too far back for me to obtain an ancestral visa. However, since I have the identical genetic heritage I would have had if I had been born in Britain, the new scientific method will determine that I am completely British.

    Please mail me my passport.


  15. fubar el hak

    Head Hak

    Most of my "British" ancestors left because their ancestral identities didn't allow

    them to get along over there, *at all*. Most of the US and OZ were so populated.

    I somehow think yo'r laddie, Triesman, hasn't thot out some of the consequences

    of inviting such a diaspora back. Just for starters, MOST of America's poor could

    lay claim, black, white or karki ;-)


  16. Richard Silver badge

    New Labour - New B*******ks

    It would be so nice if the people in charge of this fine country could try listening to real scientists in their actual field of study, engineers in their respective specialisms, and other people WHO ACTUALLY KNOW WHAT THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT.

    New Labour's approach to every problem so far has been to throw unsuitable, incomplete, unspecified and poor technology or law at it.

    NHS computer system? Never properly specified, so massively late and overbudget. Don't think it works even now.

    ID card concept? Makes impossible claims while eroding yet more civil rights.

    Millenium Dome? Well, the roof comes off in three years time - just after it re-opens containing stuff that people might actually want to go to in sufficient numbers to make it worthwhile.

    - It already looks very tatty and leaks in places.

    The "Don't protest outside Parliament act" didn't acheive the one thing it was drafted to do - that guy is still protesting. In fact, the only things it acheived was insane amounts of paperwork for the police, and a pretty funny comedy show on Radio 4

    Roll on the General Election.

    Can we have one now please, before Mr Brown manages to tattoo barcodes on all of us?

    (And please - Lib Dems, Conservatives - give us something sane to vote for.)

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    where does Triesman get his advice?

    I can confirm this - several researchers in statistical/population genetics, including me, were asked by Triesman's office a few months ago to advise on the feasibility of using DNA for determining nationality. We all refused to have anything to do with it on ethical and practical grounds. If he's still pushing this idea, who can be advising him?

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    where does Triesman get his advice?

    ...for £10,000 a week, plus expenses and a few "working lunches" I'd tell him the sky was green, keanue reeves can act, and my sisters free on Fridays ....

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    £10,000 a week?

    For that kind of money, *I'm* free on Fridays.

  20. Michael Corkery

    For that money, I'll teach him how to use phrenology

    to establish nationality, caste, and whether a person has been reincarnated.. .that way he can try or export them for past-life crimes..

    Isn't it worrying when a politico mixes up science and mumbojumbo?

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Disturbing, insane and unacceptable

    The government are clearly insane and potentially dangerouse.

    This isn't nationality. They are looking for statehood. Either way there isn't any division.

    Now all this is justified because of benefits (healthcare, pensions, education etc.) but if we require these things then why couldn't we pay for them voluntarily? Why do we need government to force us to pay for these things? If something is of value then people will pay for it right? These benefits seem to be the only things that people seem to think government are good for but why can't they be provided by the people thru charity, insurance, family support etc.

    Without these 'benefits' then the government would have no more arguments to make. Protecting mythical borders from mythical aliens who want to steal stolen 'benefits' (read cruel ruse)? They are so crazy and need to be stopped.

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