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England’s two solitudes

A four-night outbreak of riotous disorder in London and other English cities in early August 2011 is a potent argument for social repair. But lack of agreement on fundamentals could soon prove fatal to progress, says David Hayes.
David Hayes
19 August 2011

It is a little over a week since the start of an opportunistic four-day summer carnival of violent looting and burning by fired-up gangs of kids and young adults across parts of urban England. Everything about it and all that followed seems to have passed with the speed of light: the gratification, the outrage, the exculpation, the news, the networking, the messaging, the inquests, the broadcasts, the punditry, the debates - none was ever so instant, nor so deluging. But could this become true too of the forgetting?

The question sounds counterintuitive, even a touch cynical, when the events are still so fresh. But following its thread could also be a way to anticipate what the autumn rains may bring, and where - more widely - the country that incubated this social explosion may be heading.

[To continue reading on Inside Story, click here - ]

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.


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