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Poor? Lets mean it in English

20 February 2005

When John Berger wrote his 'ten dispatches' about endurance in the face of the walls that surround poverty (around two billion of us live on $2 a day) he wanted a good old-fashioned print readership. He wanted readers to take it like poetry and think - and even act. Now we have just published it in openDemocracy.

Strike one for the web.

Around the world, other editors also got the point. Print ones, that is. In Sweden's biggest: Aftonbladet, in Spain's El Pais, in France's Le Monde Diplomatique, in Argentina's Clarin and Mexico's La Journada and even in Italy's International. Nor will it stop there. But try as hard as he could, in his once native England and in the United States, John found his essay was repeatedly rejected. Could it be something that Anglo-Saxons have about 'the poor'? They can be generous in helping them with aid and donations but when it comes to taking them seriously, not patronising them, breaking through that wall... bringing it home, so to speak, it seems that, well do we need to go on about it, I mean don't we know it already, I mean, hasn't it been said before (unlike all the original articles that fill our papers and magazines).

Freud had a word for it. It was, um, er, now just remind me 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.

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