Crafting Gentleness

Friday, June 06, 2008

Census Alert

The next UK Census (in 2011), in which participation is compulsory, might be run by an arms company with close links to the United States government, and which also focuses on intelligence and surveillance work. See below for more info.

The decision is now imminent. Sign the petition today: (Deadline to sign up by: 15 June 2008)

Petition on the Downing Street website - <>

What's the problem?

The process of running the 2011 Census will be contracted out by the Office of National Statistics to a private company.

One of the two contractors in the final round of selection is the arms company Lockheed Martin, 80% of whose business is with the US Department of Defence and other Federal Government agencies.

This might concern you because: The Census rules mean that every household will be legally obliged to provide a wide range of personal information that will be handled by the chosen contractor.

Lockheed Martin produces missiles and land mines which are being used in Afghanistan and Iraq and which are illegal in many countries.

They also focus on intelligence and surveillance work and boast of their ability to provide `integrated threat informationĀ“ that combines information from many different sources.

New questions in the 2011 Census will include information about income and place of birth, as well as existing questions about languages spoken in the household and many other personal details.

This information would be very useful to Lockheed MartinĀ“s intelligence work, and fears that the data might not be safe could lead to many people not filling in their Census forms.

Census Alert is therefore campaigning to stop Lockheed Martin from being given the contract.
The campaign is supported by the Green Party, politicians from Plaid Cymru,Labour and the Scottish National Party, and others opposed to the arms trade and concerned about personal privacy.

We are not opposed to the Census itself. Aggregated, the information collected is important in allocating resources to local authorities and public services.

But personal privacy is important too, and we are concerned that Lockheed Martin's involvement could undermine public confidence in the process and lead to inaccurate data being collected.

What can I do?

There is still time to stop this happening and we are not calling for a boycott of the Census at this stage.

Before the final decisions on the contract are made, we are asking you to do the following:
Sign our petition opposing arms company involvement in the Census.Contact your MP and ask them to raise the issue in Parliament. Contact your local Councillor and ask them to highlight their concerns about the allocation of local authority resources.


  • I have been reading your blog for a while now. It is very interesting. This is the first time I have felt compelled to comment though as I am so outraged.

    I can't believe that the census is being outsourced! I don't care what company gets it, I will not be adding my details to it.


    By Blogger hen, at Thursday, 19 June, 2008  

  • Hi Hen, Thankfully it hasn't been decided on yet, but I suppose once the idea of mass data collection for people management purposes (i.e. a census) is given the green light, then the logic of it can easily lead people to hand it all over to other people who specialise in the most 'efficient' forms of people and data management (i.e. the military). What a world, eh?

    By Blogger Anthony, at Friday, 20 June, 2008  

  • How do you, gently, wake a society up when it doesn't feel like time is on your side?

    After the huge number of people who marched against the war failed to have an impact on the final decision, I can see why people have slipped into apathy.

    By Blogger hen, at Friday, 20 June, 2008  

  • I think it's really important not to be lulled into believing that we are somehow responsible for the actions of people whose actions make perfect sense to themselves. We are partly influential, but often to the most miniscule degree. People do what the do: they murder, they go to war, they abuse. But they also love, care for, laugh with, nurture, support. We get to have some say in what we ourselves do, or more importantly perhaps, *how* we ourselves do anything.

    I don't think time isn't on our side. As far as I can make out the only thing that really speeds time up is our own urgency or haste, which I think can easily become counterproductive. We make the differences that we make, no more, no less, so how can we become more gentle in the making of those differences? Less urgency, more groundedness; more looking around to locate ourselves more humanly in our lives and our communities perhaps? Remaining present and local and responsive and accountable is a challenge, it's hard work sometimes, I suppose. But I find the more it happens, the more personal and political possibilities reveal themselves. The little things.

    I think people can get lulled into thinking that big visible oppositional politics or small folded-paper-in-box politics are often the only ways to think about the possibilities of politics. If we can get back to the heart of 'the personal is the political' we can maybe feel less like we don't matter. I think we can issue invitations to become more aware of our personal possibilities. The best education for me works one at a time, one by one by one, not issuing messages, but issuing invitations, often simply through our own attitudes while saying nowt. "Using words, if necessary", as a friend reminded me St. Francis of Assisi has been quoted as saying.

    Start where you are. Isn't it all we get to do anyway?

    By Blogger Anthony, at Saturday, 21 June, 2008  

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