From Issue 130, May/June 2011
No consensus on the census
Thousands of campaigners across the country are boycotting the 2011 census. Activists are incensed that the exercise is being carried out by Lockheed Martin, America’s largest arms manufacturer, which makes Trident nuclear missiles, cluster bombs and the F-16 fghter jet. Lockheed Martin also provided private contract interrogators at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and Guantánamo Bay
Lockheed Martin is one of the largest US government contractors. According to Le Monde, in 2008 alone, Lockhead Martin received $36 billion in government contracts, more than any company in history. That’s one of every 14 dollars spent by the Pentagon. 80% of this work is for the US defence department.2
The census will cost the UK government £500 million – double the total for the previous census in 2001. Approximately one third (£150m) of the total cost is going directly to Lockheed Martin.2
Campaigners are also worried that legislation within the ‘United States Patriot Act’ will make personal data collected by the census accessible by the CIA and other US Government agencies. Peace campaigner Geoff Meaden,
told the Guardian: “We have no legal precedence as to whether, under the pretext of national security, this census information can be acquired by the US government. The Offce for National Statistics claims that our data will be safe but the UK government has demonstrated on several occasions that it cannot be trusted with managing digital data containing personal records.”
Mike from the boycott group No CensUs Taking Part told Ethical Consumer: “In a way, the census encapsulates so many of the worst ills of our current society - corporate greed and amorality co-opting governments, banking scandals, illegal wars, invasions of privacy by the state, government lies to the public, massive overspending in a time of austerity, human rights abuses here and abroad, the police state....the list goes on and on... There is no better way of protesting all of the above than to simply boycott the census!”
The Green Party, which campaigned against the Lockheed Martin contract, is not supporting the boycott, on the basis census data is used to determine public spending.Census boycotters face a £1000 fne and a criminal record.
Find out more at www.nocensustakingpart.co.uk.
Isreal boycott update
Another brick out of the Wall R
oger Waters of Pink Floyd is calling on fellow artists to boycott Israel. Speaking in an interview to al-Jazeera’s Riz Kahn, he said: “I’ve fnally just decided to put my head above the parapet and say enough is enough.... [the Israelis] pay lip service to the idea that they want to make peace with the Palestinians...but in the meantime they’re throwing people out of their homes...they’re quietly getting on with taking over the whole of the land and what happens then to the Palestinians?”4
Art not Boycott
South African artist William Kentridge has rejected boycotting Israel and instead used a retrospective of his work in Jerusalem as a platform from which to criticize Israeli policy. During his visit to Israel in February the artist attended the weekly demonstration in East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood and used a press conference to condemn Israeli action in the region.
“I have sympathy for a lot of the reasons that lead people to call for the boycott. There is a section
of Israeli life that is very close and similar to my own life, and there are parts of life in Israel that are
controlled by religious extremism and are racially intolerant, and I fnd these parts very offensive.”
Kentridge, born in Johannesburg in 1954, was a harsh critic of South Africa’s apartheid regime.
Click here to see Boycott News from previous issues of the magazine.