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To Edinburgh!

29 June 2005

Hello everyone,

Unless I'm looking at this wrong, it seems no-one else has yet found it in their hearts to try and bore you to death on this blog. I didn't want to be the first, but it seems I have no choice.

I guess an introduction is necessary, but I'll be damned if I can be bothered putting it into sentences.
Name: Steven Heywood
Age: Nineteen
Occupation: English student at Birmingham University
G8 Location: A campsite somewhere near Stirling
Politics: Green party member for almost a year

It was suggested that my planning for the G8 might throw up some 'amusing' anecdotes, which could be used to furnish this blog for the first few days. Depends on your definition of amusing, I suppose, but personally I find nothing funny about my transport arrangements to and from Scotland.

On the second of July I will be taking a coach up to Edinburgh from the Birmingham University Guild of Students. This is only about a seven hour journey, if the traffic's good (and who else is gonna be going to Edinburgh on that day, hm?). The coach leaves at 4AM. The Guild is approximately ten miles away from my house. So: I have to sleep on someone else's floor and get up no later than half three in the morning in order to give myself deep vein thrombosis on a coach full of Birmingham University students. These world leaders damn well better do something after this.

Of course, this would be so much easier by train (maybe I just don't catch the right ones, but I have never suffered a significant delay while waiting for a train. Truly I am blessed.), but as much as two weeks ago the cheapest return tickets between Birmingham and Edinburgh were £58, and as a student I was more inclined to take a long and torturous, but slightly cheaper, journey instead. And, after a nasty but thankfully not fatal experience with the Virgin Trains  ticket booking website (when the revolution takes place, Branson will be the first against the wall), I'm going both ways for a mere £35, so I think I'll be having the last laugh, although it does mean going to Glasgow so maybe the positives are balanced out by the negatives after all.

The return journey means making it from my campsite to Glasgow before 6:20PM on the eighth of July. I will almost certainly set out towards that hallowed city of rubbish football teams  at about half eight in the morning, "just to make sure". I will arrive six hours before my train does, and will spend the time drinking copious amounts of tea , which means when I visit the toilet at six I'll still be urinating as my train pulls out of the station. I will thus be stranded in Glasgow forever, and as my entire experience of the city comes from Trainspotting  I will probably curl up on the floor and mutter something about dead babies on the ceiling. I imagine nobody will notice.

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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