Keep openDemocracy open!

Campaign blog

The New Left Project's message of support for openDemocracy


Alice Bell
28 February 2013

openDemocracy, the digital commons that's been providng news and opinion articles since 2001, have announced that they need to raise £250k by March 31st, or they’ll close. They’ve raised much of this already, but are asking those of their readers who can to help them raise the crucial last £30,000.

As their Editor-in-Chief Magnus Nome put it in a post last week:

We know you want fresh investigation, strong ideas and good writing to address the extraordinary events of our time.  We also know you don’t want to pay for it. We don’t either. We like our web free.


Web publishing is increasingly dominated by giant corporations and lone bloggers. To keep open and independent spaces like openDemocracy alive with a richness of content and a variety of voices, we need the help of those of you that can pitch in.

We whole-heartedly agree with this. We’d also be devastated to lose oD from the growing cadre of not-for-profit, independent, public interest web publishing groups which offer something more than mainstream media or individual bloggers can alone.

Where else could you have seen pieces like their painstaking report on the level to which the BBC failed to properly inform the public of the nature of the coalition NHS bill? And considering this failure of the mainstream media, where else would have provide the sort of coverage of the NHS we’ve seen at the oD’s “Our NHS” series?

Discussing the issue over the weekend, the NLP editors remembered a lot of other bits of oD’s content we’ve been grateful for recently. Other things that came to mind include their thoughtful discussion of the role and future of the BBC in British public, OurBeeb, which the report on NHS reform coverage came out of, and a great series on networked activism mostly produced in heat of the political upsurge of 2011. Also, Paul Rogers writings and Vron Ware’s column, the Uneconomics series, Arab Awakening and the recent one on republican economics. We also really like the way oD can bring liberals and leftists together. It’s not just about radical views for radical readers.

Those were just the first things that came to our minds though. There are loads more. The threat of closure is a good excuse to spend some time on the site, looking at the rich work they produce, reminding yourself of your favourite pieces or series, discovering more and thinking about how much you’d miss if it went.

You can donate here and let people know on twitter with the hashtag #keepODopen.

With thanks to the New Left Project.

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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