Nick Herbert - Conservative choice

7 April 2005
The public row over the choice of Nick Herbert to be the Arundel and South Downs constituency candidate for the Tory Party is only half of the story. It is who they did not select that says much more. Herbert is by all accounts a shallow, virulent anti-European: regressive not just on taxation, but on national identity and relations with the world. Up against him in the short-list of three who spoke to 400 odd local party members last night, was Laura Sandys. Among Laura's wide and lively range of interests, she Chairs the Board of openDemocracy on which I sit. So praise her I can't. Read her for yourself on openDemocracy, on Europe, on Iraq and especially her star essay on the nature of US politics, written before 9/11. How is it possible for the Conservatives to systematically refuse to choose Laura as a candidate? It is not just because local activists don't like intelligent, single women. It is also that the leadership is not modern and does not want the future to be different from the past it once knew. Unable to challenge Tony Blair by setting a new agenda, they permit him to indulge in his own version of conservatism. He can only get away with being King Tony Blair as so well described by Dominic Hilton because the opposition do not want to change the terms. It is how politics is done that matters now, in the era of globalisation. The selection of Nick Herbert is a deeply depressing confirmation that the Conservative Party is not interested. All real name comments welcome, please send them to [email protected]

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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