Where New Labour went wrong

28 April 2005
James Humphries knows a thing or two about politics and presentation, having - reportedly - sat across a desk from Alastair Campbell when he was as a strategy advisor to Tony Blair.

Now, as Green Party candidate for the London consituency of South Islington, he gives an insider's view of how decisions are really made. Here's a money quote from yesterday's Guardian:

Like others, I did wonder why we had to wait two years for a white paper on sustainable development when the Bank of England could be given its independence within a week. The reality was that the environment did not then have enough "saliency" to be a true priority for New Labour.

"Salient" issues, in Downing Street jargon, are those that voters (especially in marginal constituencies) say matter most to them. If crime or asylum emerges from polling and focus groups, then politicians respond with speeches and initiatives. Anything that is not a salient issue can languish.

Caspar Henderson

Stop the secrecy: Publish the NHS COVID data deals

To: Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

We’re calling on you to immediately release details of the secret NHS data deals struck with private companies, to deliver the NHS COVID-19 datastore.

We, the public, deserve to know exactly how our personal information has been traded in this ‘unprecedented’ deal with US tech giants like Google, and firms linked to Donald Trump (Palantir) and Vote Leave (Faculty AI).

The COVID-19 datastore will hold private, personal information about every single one of us who relies on the NHS. We don’t want our personal data falling into the wrong hands.

And we don’t want private companies – many with poor reputations for protecting privacy – using it for their own commercial purposes, or to undermine the NHS.

The datastore could be an important tool in tackling the pandemic. But for it to be a success, the public has to be able to trust it.

Today, we urgently call on you to publish all the data-sharing agreements, data-impact assessments, and details of how the private companies stand to profit from their involvement.

The NHS is a precious public institution. Any involvement from private companies should be open to public scrutiny and debate. We need more transparency during this pandemic – not less.

By adding my name to this campaign, I authorise openDemocracy and Foxglove to keep me updated about their important work.

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