There was a poll not long ago about petitions and surveys. 69% of you voted that serious, pressing issues should be welcomed, so I’m holding you to that today.
Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest military contractor and arms exporter, has been given a £150m contract to assist with the delivery of the 2011 UK census.
They were involved with Canada’s 2006 census, which was not popular if the Count Me Out campaign is anything to go by. There is similar opposition in Britain. They will also have considerable involvement with Canada’s 2011 census and, of course, with the USA’s (in 2010).
Should taxpayers’ money go to a weapons builder which has profited so handsomely from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? Should sensitive, personal data be handed over to a company with a long history of working in American military intelligence?
Lockheed Martin produce land mines, which are illegal in many countries, as well as nuclear weapons. They also take part in interrogation at Guantanamo Bay.
In 2001, they were awarded the world’s largest ever weapons contract in a $200bn deal (which surely had nothing to do with the fact that the former Vice President’s son-in-law is a registered Lockheed lobbyist whose wife was serving as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs at the time).
Although the British government insists that “the confidentiality of personal census information is a top priority” and that “personal census data will not be shared with any other state or nation”, how comfortable would you be handing over your details to a company with such close ties to the US government?
You are legally obliged to complete census returns, by the way. Canadians who refuse face a maximum fine of $500 and three months in prison. Refusal to comply in Britain could cost you up to £1,000, $500 in the USA.
But there is some good news for the UK: apparently, you will still be able to state your religious persuasion as ‘Jedi’.