England's fantasy

It is 12 January 2003 and US president Bush has rallied his troops for what he calls “The first war of the 21st century”. What is your view of this crisis, where, briefly, do you stand? This is the question we are putting to people around the world, especially those with their own public reputation and following. Our aim, to help create a truly global debate all can identify with.
Paul Gilroy
12 January 2003

Political, ethical and pragmatic arguments against invading Iraq have been made familiar. But the fearful and uncertain atmosphere created by the information warriors makes them sound worn out. We have to struggle to restore their meaning and to invest dissent with moral and cultural authority especially now that attempts are being made in England to popularise the war by linking the theme of terrorism to a nativist hatred of asylum seekers - the latest ‘enemy within’.

I reject the voices in favour of war which have recently suggested that the measurable good involved in having resurgent US imperial power obliterate the tyranny of Saddam Hussein can somehow be offset against the problems involved in an endorsement of the Bush junta's imperial project. The same pretend wisdom would have us believe that Blair has been supremely skilful in counselling restraint to George and Condi. My hunch is not only that they can do without his fig leaf, but that their long-term plans will require them to remove it with an assertive flourish.

Not long ago, I heard Blair's advisor Mark Leonard wonking away on the radio. He argued that these days a reliable measure of political maturity was a preparedness to accept the notion that all of Europe's best and benign hopes - for peace, security and enhanced democracy - rested entirely upon the simplifying global force of US military power. Fantasy projects of pre-emptive and proactive aggression inflated by the unchallenged power of all the old Project for a New American Century (PNAC) warriors and orchestrated as redemption and invulnerability by the technocratic offices of worthy folk like Admiral Poindexter are now the absolute guarantors of Britain's moral aspirations towards a better planet. God Save The Queen!

Originally published as part of a debate on 12 January 2003 Writers, artists and civic leaders on the War: Pt. 1.

See also Writers, artists and civic leaders on the War: Pt. 2.

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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