Home

It's a deal, it's a steal

8 July 2005
<!-- @page { size: 8.27in 11.69in; margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } -->

The deals are done. In one of the most sweeping generalisations I have ever heard, Tony Blair has declared that “everybody outside the G8 and the G8 have come together”. That indefatigable coalition has endorsed a deal that condemns 50,000 people to die before aid reaches them in 2010, obliges all but the world's 14 poorest countries to carry on charging for health services before they get a sniff of a write-off for their crippling debt, and calls on the WTO to cement the obscene distortions in global trade rules that asphyxiate developing economies. If the aim of those who bombed London yesterday was to give the West license to shaft the poor once again, they have resoundingly succeeded.

The communiqués have weak pledges for further dialogue on climate change, a belated increase in aid (still well below commitments adopted 35 years ago), and various abdications of domestic responsibility to the World Bank, the body now headed by Paul Wolfowitz, the architect of the invasion of Iraq. Bob Geldof says it is a “disgrace” to criticise his pal Tony. Rounding on his outraged colleagues in Make Poverty History, he said no one had ever asked for more than the recommendations made by the government's Commission for Africa.

Multinational companies will continue to be invited to sign up to voluntary self-regulation. The Kyoto Treaty will now never include the world's biggest polluter, the United States. Tax havens and offshore registering will continue to be allowed to foster corporate abuse. While armed guards storm the freebie tent in search of free whiskey courtesy of Diageo, Make Poverty History campaigners are drifting away. Few expected their efforts to succeed; only the most politically aware expected such a Brownwash.

The only African to take the platform for MPH's post-communiqué press conference, Kumi Naidoo of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty, was harangued by Geldof for his ingratitude. He had dared to suggest that delays in channeling aid to Africa would lead to more bodies filling the continent's overloaded graveyards, a phenomenon that is polluting water tables.

For a week, Africans, Latin Americans and Asians have been telling me that the very idea that the G8 will absolve them of poverty is an insult to them, their societies and democracy. Make Poverty History made its fatal mistake: it got too close to power. The NGOs who maintained the illegitimacy of the G8 throughout have come away with some credit. One leading campaigner said aid agencies would refuse “the crums from the G8's table”. Led by the global south, those groups will now have to redouble their efforts to break the encrusted structures of power. It is clear that the masters of the universe continue to see poverty as the scythe with which they can reap the resources of the poor.

Today, 87 per cent of the world's population were told that, if they learned how to behave themselves properly, the West would deign to tighten their chains. The vocabulary of compassion masked the dogwhsitle of greed. Christian Aid's statement captured the mood of those who had dared to hope that a wristbanded elite might live up to their word. “Millions of campaigners all over the world have been led to the top of the mountain, shown the view, and now we are being frogmarched down again."

 

 

 

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.

Had enough of ‘alternative facts’? openDemocracy is different Join the conversation: get our weekly email

Comments

We encourage anyone to comment, please consult the oD commenting guidelines if you have any questions.
Audio available Bookmark Check Language Close Comments Download Facebook Link Email Newsletter Newsletter Play Print Share Twitter Youtube Search Instagram WhatsApp yourData