This year's census is providing an excellent opportunity for those of us committed to peace to make a personal witness against the international arms trade. Despite the power of the rhetoric of the 'free market', every society defines 'goods and services' which cannot be sold freely, whether this is a range of drugs or people's bodies. Arms should be put into a similar category of highly controlled products.
It is unfortunate that the Green Party appears to have changed its position on the census. Back in August 2008, when the decision was made to engage Lockheed Martin, the US arms corporation, to undertake the census Caroline Lucas was quoted as saying that 'the Census depends on the trust of every person in Britain' and that:
'We maintain that the Census would be best conducted by teams of public employees, over which we have full scrutiny and control, not by private contractors with such close links to the US Government.'
Lockheed Martin is responsible for the manufacture of Trident nuclear missiles, which the Green Party opposes, as well as cluster bombs and F-16 fighter jets that are used to kill the innocent in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan - post-colonial engagements to which the party was also vociferously opposed.
In spite of these principled stands the Green Party, my party, has decided to oppose the boycott of the census. I can only assume that this is through fear of appearing irresponsible. I have not been aware of much debate or any democratic decision-making process within the party. My own personal decision, as a Quaker, is not to contribute to the profits of one of the merchants of death: I urge you to join me.