openDemocracy blogs the G8

27 June 2005

Welcome to openDemocracy's G8 blog for news and views on the 2005 summit. As part of our debate on G8: power, protest, publicity, we host the voices of those who have trekked north to Scotland to observe the action firsthand. From student activists to charity lobbyists, kitchen porters to oD's own Tom Burgis, we will be hearing from people on the ground in Edinburgh, Auchterarder, and the Gleneagles estate itself.

Our bloggers will give their impressions of the summit and the fringe, the city, the country, the faces to watch and places to be, and maybe even provide a taster of what Tony Blair, George Bush et al will be having for their tea ...

This week sees what is fast turning into Edinburgh's first international festival of the summer really kick-off, with hundreds of demonstrations, carnivals, hikes, blockades, rallies, parades, protests and lectures taking place all over the city and its environs.

Scanning some of the venues and activities, one could be forgiven for thinking the fringe had started a month early: late night comedy in Potterow (Edinburgh University's student union bar) becomes late night "reson8" band night and Shakespeare makes way for "globalisation theatre" at the Royal Lyceum.

Also echoing Edinburgh's annual arts festival is a clear division between the core elite (have pre-booked tickets, stay in a plush hotel, always see the big US star of the year) and the "hard-corps" (sleep on mate's floor, blag their way into as many events as possible, not impressed by US star du jour).

But can it all really be just about the carnival atmosphere? The British government - and Tony Blair in particular - seem to have staked their political reputation on "saving" Africa - and then the planet. But with all the hype surrounding saint Bob and his pop saviours, white wristbands, and Making Poverty History, how much do we really know about the proposed aid deal to Africa (and is it enough), who is really driving the agenda (and can they be held accountable) and most importantly, is there any hope that anything concrete will be achieved by 8 men in 2 days in an exclusive hotel in Perthshire?

openDemocracy's authors find out ...

In the run-up to the summit, openDemocracy has run article debates on the "Politics of Climate Change", and "Africa & Democracy" that discussed many of these issues in more depth. In particular: Michael Holman on the role of NGOs, Herbert Ekwe-Ekwe on arms sales to Africa, and Ian McEwan on the importance of addressing climate change.

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.

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