Down to the wire

8 July 2005

Another day at Gleneagles and sleep is at a premium. Yesterday's timetable for negotiations junked after the news of the London attacks, and delegates have been going flat out to seal deals on trade, aid, debt and the environment. We now expect the prime minister to give a press conference around 2.15, at which he will issue a communique on Africa and Africa and a personal statement.

While the sherpers were burning the midnight oil, NGO leaders were cloistered over draft reactions to the communiques. I hear that a meeting of the Trade Justice Movement - the trade arm of Make Poverty History - was heated. Mainstream NGOs were pushing hard for a statement that would welcome the G8's language, expected to endorse greater self-determination for African nations to decide trade policy, and woolly commitments to cut subsidies.

Holding firm, radical NGOs refused to allow the G8 such credit. One senior insider told me that it would "make us look like idiots" if MPH were to slap the G8 on the back while the World Trade Organisation continues to kick the world's poor in the teeth. "It's like sending the missiles in to Baghdad while talking the about peaceful resolution," the source said. The WTO is holding a mini-ministerial in China on 12 and 13 July. The talks are also stalled (sometimes the global financial institutions put one in mind of a flotilla of learner drivers), and outcome is expected to push for the WTO ministerial in December to widen its free-trade net to include industry, manufacturing, finance and services. That means unfettering corporations still further from such irritating concerns as sustainability, responsibility and working conditions.

The UK delegation continues to stall. Tom Kelly, the prime minister's official spokesman, is keeping stumm. Blair, one imagines, is on his sixtieth fair-trade coffee, and the NGOs are pondering Valium. We await the west's latest set of dictats to the poor. If I were you, I'd ready the Enigma machine.

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.

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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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