Historic day - ouch!

29 May 2005
Today is a turning point in European history and I find myself in disagreement with Neal Ascherson AND Will Hutton AND Timothy Garton Ash AND Danny Cohn-Bendit! The first two signed the Chris Bobinsk letter he wanted the English to post to the people of France - an idea he wrote about rufully in openDemocracy. Now his letter has been published on the oD site and also in the Financial Times. Tim Garton Ash went to France to report and meditate upon the campaign and wrote a strong piece in the Guardian calling for a French Yes. But none were as eloquent or forceful as Danny Cohn-Bendit, whom I have followed more or less since 1968, writing in the International Herald Tribune. "I am a realist who believes in social justice, human rights, environmental protection and a strong Europe that can deal withthe challenges of globaliation and project its power peacefully." Well said! But does it follow that if the French vote 'no' Danny as warns, this will all be at risk and, "the French will lose the things they really want: real European solidarity, a true European democracy; in short, the creation of a European Republic"? European democracy will not follow from the constitutional treaty. On the contrary, a 'yes' will convince the Brussels Eurocrats that if they scare the children they can always get their way. I am against a British 'no' if the French and the Dutch vote 'yes'. That debate is for another time - perhaps. But a French 'no' will be good for Europe and especially for the prospects of European democracy. It will be an honest rejection of a dishonest political elite.

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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