Tony Blair and Trust

6 April 2005

There were two legs to what can be called Tony Blair’s project as he sought to become Prime Minister of the UK: the modernisation of Britain and trusting him as the person to lead this.

He launched Labour’s historic 1997 election campaign, in a large, packed hall crawling with media, hot to see him replace John Major, the painfully awful Tory Prime Minister whose administration was mired in ‘sleaze’.

Blair’s core statement was ‘You can trust me’.   

I recall being physically struck at the time that Blair did not trust us.

Whether ‘us’ the press, ‘us’ the people or ‘us’ the voters.

I put this down as an understandable nervousness, and part of his will to power and refusal of complacency.

I was wrong, it was profoundly cynical. Those who know British politics will know what I mean when I say that Tony Blair proved to be Peter Mandelson with a human face.

His sincerity is an artifice. 

Now it is all too clear. This morning BBC Radio 4’s Today programme interviewed a group of disaffected Labour activists and long-time supporters.

One of them said, “The more sincere Blair is, the more revolted I am”. They all laughed. It was the laughter of recognition.

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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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