Who's getting rich from COVID-19?
Boris Johnson's government stands accused of 'COVID cronyism', after handing out staggering sums of money to controversial private firms to fight COVID-19. Often the terms of these deals are kept secret, with no value-for-money checks or penalties for repeated failures which cost lives. And many major contracts have gone directly to key Tory donors and allies – without competition.
As COVID rates across the country surge, how can we hold our leaders accountable? Meet the lawyers, journalists and politicians leading the charge in our free live discussion on Thursday 1 October at 5pm UK time.
Peter Geoghegan Investigations editor, openDemocracy, and author of 'Democracy for Sale: Dark Money and Dirty Politics'
Jolyon Maugham Barrister and founder of the Good Law Project.
Layla Moran Liberal Democrat MP (TBC)
Chair: Mary Fitzgerald Editor-in-chief of openDemocracy
Watch earlier discussions
If you're tired of Brexit, you ain't seen nothing yet.
Is the UK joining Trumpland? Does this explain Boris Johnson's kamikaze EU negotiating strategy? And could beating this deal begin a challenge to the iniquities of the global economy?
Nick Dearden Director of Global Justice Now and author of 'Trade Secrets: The Truth about the US Trade Deal and How We Can Stop It'
Caroline Molloy Editor of openDemocracyUK and ourNHS
Extinction Rebellion recently sparked a firestorm online by tweeting, “We are not a socialist movement.” Some say environmentalism without socialism is just gardening. But does it need to be that way?
Is socialism the only way for the climate movement to make progress? Or will that limit its appeal? Is the climate movement making a mistake by aligning itself just with the left?
Adrienne Buller Senior fellow at Common Wealth, where she leads the Green New Deal programme
Sam Hall Director of Conservative Environment Network
Sunny Hundal Writer, journalist and social media editor at openDemocracy
Gaya Sriskanthan Co-chair of Momentum’s National Coordinating Group, focused on the Green New Deal, renewable energy, indigenous people’s rights and cooperative economy
Chair, Adam Ramsay Main site editor, openDemocracy
Western alt-right groups CitizenGo and Christian Voice UK are instigating opposition to a proposed Kenyan law that would regulate teenagers’ access to contraception and women’s access to abortion if their lives are in danger. The law appears to have been stalled.
Driven by religious ideology, these organisations ignore the evidence that thousands of Kenyan women and girls die each year from backstreet abortions. Ironically, they allege the proposed law is driven by the West.
Nerima Akinyi Were Human rights lawyer from Kenya Legal & Ethical Issues Network on HIV and AIDS
Gema Fernández Rodríguez de Liévana Human rights lawyer with Women’s Link in Spain
Ruth Mumbi Community activist
Adam Ramsay openDemocracy main site editor, who has tracked CitizenGo’s tactics in Europe
Chair: Rosebell Kagumire Feminist activist
Does Jordan Peterson or the Fab Five of ‘Queer Eye’ have the best lines? Have ideas of manhood and capitalist competition taught men life lessons which make them miserable? What do the far Right and progressive activism offer to unhappy men?
Shon Faye Writer, presenter, editor, artist, comedian and an activist for LGBTQ, women's, and mental health rights. She is an editor-at-large at Dazed and has contributed features and comment journalism to The Guardian, The Independent, VICE, n+1, Attitude, Verso and others.
Dan Hind Author of numerous books including a critical analysis of Jordan Peterson’s ‘12 Rules for Life’.
Adam Ramsay Main site editor of openDemocracy and author of the recent essay ‘“Queer Eye”, Jordan Peterson and the battle for depressed men’.
Chair: Nandini Archer Commissioning editor of openDemocracy’s gender and sexuality section, 50.50
Governments are increasingly using algorithms to make decisions that affect us all.
The UK’s exam result fiasco has shown how they can replicate discrimination and inequality. But the concerns are global and cut across healthcare, policing, immigration, child protection and more.
Does it matter who provides the technology? Who decides what data goes in, and when they are used? And do they have potential for good?
Lina Dencik Co-director of the Data Justice Lab at the University of Cardiff, specialising in digital surveillance and the politics of data.
Gurumurthy Kasinathan Co-director of IT for Change, an international NGO looking at the relationship between digital technology and social justice.
Chair: Caroline Molloy Editor of openDemocracyUK and ourNHS.
The pandemic has profoundly changed our working lives. Millions have lost their jobs; others have had no choice but to continue working at great risk to their health. Many more have shouldered extra unpaid labour such as childcare.
Work has also been redefined. Some workers are defined as 'essential' – but most of them are among the lowest-paid in our societies.
Could this be an opportunity?
Amid the crisis, there has been a rise in interest in radical ideas, from four-day weeks to universal basic income.
Sarah Jaffe Journalist and author of 'Work Won't Love You Back: How Devotion to Our Jobs Keeps Us Exploited, Exhausted, and Alone', due to be published next year.
Amelia Horgan Academic and author of 'Lost in Work: Escaping Capitalism', also due to be published next year.
Chair: Alice Martin Advisory board member of Autonomy, a think tank dedicated to the future of work.
Democracy is in crisis and unaccountable flows of money are helping to destroy it. Peter Geoghegan’s new book, ‘Democracy for Sale: Dark Money and Dirty Politics’, charts how secretive money, lobbying and data has warped our democracy.
How has dark money bought our politics? What can be done to change the system?
Peter Geoghegan Dark Money Investigations editor at openDemocracy and the author of ‘Democracy for Sale: Dark Money and Dirty Politics’.
Mary Fitzgerald Editor-in-Chief, openDemocracy.
Support for Scottish independence is at record levels. Support for a united Ireland is at record levels. Support for Welsh independence is at record levels.
The British state's management of the COVID crisis has widely been seen as disastrous. Will the pandemic accelerate the break-up of the United Kingdom?
Anthony Barnett Founder of openDemocracy, he has often written about the need for a progressive England to emerge from the shadow of Britain.
Allison Morris Security correspondent and columnist with the Irish News, and an analyst of politics in Northern Ireland.
Harriet Protheroe-Soltani Trade union organiser for Wales and the south-west, vice chair of the campaign group Momentum, and has written about rising support for Welsh independence on the Left.
Chair: Adam Ramsay Editor at openDemocracy and frequent writer about Scottish independence, most recently in The Guardian.
All over the world, minority groups are at risk of unprovoked violence from police. And they are more likely to end up in prison too. But if demands to defund the police succeed, what would society look like – in the US and elsewhere?
Chris Myant Contributes to openDemocracy on France, where he has lived for the past ten years. He started working as a journalist in 1968. For many years he worked at the Commission for Racial Equality, for whom he conducted an investigation into the Prison Service and the murder of Zahid Mubarek.
Amrit Wilson Writer and activist in the movement to end violence against women and girls and member of South Asia Solidarity Group
Chair: Laura Basu Europe editor, ourEconomy
Coronavirus appears to affect men worst. Yet from domestic violence to health misinformation to openDemocracy’s latest investigation into the shocking abuse and mistreatment of women during childbirth, women across the world are being disproportionately affected by the crisis.
Hear from our top-notch team of feminist journalists about what they’ve uncovered with their forensic work, and from health and rights experts on what needs to happen next.
Claire Provost Global investigations editor, openDemocracy
Khatondi Soita Wepukhulu Reporter who has worked on undercover investigations into abuse and mistreatment of women in Uganda
Melissa Upreti Human rights lawyer and member of the UN working group on tackling discrimination against women
Chair: Mary Fitzgerald Editor-in-chief, openDemocracy
We have all seen a huge explosion around the debate on structural racism in recent weeks.
But that has been accompanied by corporate statements that many activists say are meaningless and will lead to little change.
How true is that? How can the movement against racism deliver long-lasting change instead?
Evadney Campbell Managing director and co-founder of Shiloh PR. A former BBC broadcast journalist, she was awarded an MBE in 1994 for her services to the African and Caribbean communities in Gloucester.
Sunder Katwala Director of British Future, a think-tank on identity and integration
Sayeeda Warsi Member of the House of Lords, pro-vice chancellor at Bolton University and author of ‘The Enemy Within: A Tale of Muslim Britain’.
Chair: Henry Bonsu Broadcaster who has worked on some of the UK's biggest current affairs shows, including BBC Radio 4's Today. He is a regular pundit on Channel 5's Jeremy Vine Show, BBC News Briefing and MSNBC's Joy Reid Show.
For many communities, this is not the first crisis they’ve faced. The lockdown feels familiar to those who have years of experience living and organising in the face of scarce resources and state violence.
So it’s not surprising that grassroots and community activists mobilised quickly in response to COVID-19, from expanding mutual aid groups and launching creative campaigns to getting information out to women at risk of domestic violence.
What can the world learn from these movements to get us through this crisis – and help us rebuild a better world?
Mona Eltahawy Feminist author, commentator and disruptor of patriarchy. Her latest book ‘The Seven Necessary Sins For Women and Girls’ took her disruption worldwide.
Crystal Lameman Member of the Beaver Lake Cree Nation and campaigns against the exploitation of her people and of their land, holding the government of Canada accountable for violations of their treaty rights.
Elif Sarican Anthropologist (LSE), writer, organiser and an activist of the Kurdish Women’s Movement.
Chair, Mary Fitzgerald Editor-in-chief, openDemocracy.
What might democracy look like as countries emerge from lockdown? How will public health respond? What lessons from history have we forgotten? How will our societies and cultures change?
openDemocracy has partnered with UCL's Institute of Education to launch a student competition to find ambitious and inspiring answers to these questions. Join openDemocracy for a live discussion on these and many more questions with some of the competition judges.
Lia Bote Biological sciences student at University College London, and the project leader of London COVID-19 Care Central.
Adam Habib Professor of political science, vice-chancellor and principal, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, and incoming director of SOAS University of London.
Hannah Marcus Assistant professor in the department of the history of science at Harvard University.
Adam Wagner Barrister, Doughty Street Chambers, visiting professor at Goldsmiths University, specialist advisor to the Joint Committee on Human Rights Inquiry into COVID-19.
Chair: Mary Fitzgerald Editor-in-chief, openDemocracy.
The coronavirus pandemic has shaken the foundations of global capitalism.
What might be the long-term impact on the world’s economy? Are we facing the end of globalisation as we know it? And what are the prospects for emerging from the crisis with a fairer and more sustainable economic system?
Joseph Stiglitz Economist and University Professor at Columbia University. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in economics in 2001 and is chief economist at the Roosevelt Institute
Ann Pettifor Director of Prime: Policy Research in Macroeconomics and a fellow of the New Economics Foundation. She is the author of ‘The Case for the Green New Deal'
Richard Kozul-Wright Director of the Globalisation and Development Strategies Division in the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
Chair: Laura Basu European Economics Editor, openDemocracy
Lockdown restrictions in African countries seem to have slowing down transmission of coronavirus on the continent. But they have also been brutally enforced, driving the most economically vulnerable into destitution and disrupting other essential health services. Were the costs and benefits weighed well enough? Did the restrictions go too far? Was an opportunity for smart, Africa-appropriate lockdowns missed?
Mausi Segun Executive Director of Human Rights Watch’s Africa Division.
Catherine Kyobutungi epidemiologist and Executive Director of the African Population and Health Research Center.
Gilad Isaacs Co-director, Institute for Economic Justice, South Africa.
Chair: Ferial Haffajee Associate Editor, Daily Maverick.
The horrific killing of George Floyd has shocked the world and sparked uprising across the US. Join openDemocracy to discuss what this means for the world’s superpower.
Zoé Samudzi Co-author of "As Black as Resistance: Finding the Conditions for Liberation" and PhD candidate in Medical Sociology at the University of California, San Francisco.
Rasna Warah Kenyan writer and journalist.
Aaron White North America economics editor, openDemocracy
Chair: Lola Olufemi Author of "Feminism, Interrupted: Disrupting Power".
Usually, profits come before people. But this year, governments across the world have been forced to shut down their economies and put life first. Why? Join openDemocracy for a live discussion on what the coronavirus tells us about globalisation, neoliberalism and our shared experience as humanity.
Anthony Barnett Founder of openDemocracy, and author of ‘Out of the Belly of Hell: COVID-19 and the humanisation of globalisation’, which looks at how social movements since 1968 have reshaped the world. Achille Mbembe Leading post-colonial philosopher who developed the idea of necropolitics: how politics can dictate who lives and who dies.
Thea Riofrancos Author of ‘A Planet to Win: Why We Need a Green New Deal’ and ‘Resource Radicals: From Petro-Nationalism to Post-Extractivism in Ecuador’. She is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Providence College.
Chair: Réka Kinga Papp Hungarian journalist and editor-in-chief of Eurozine.
In Libya, despite a collapsed health system, conflict has intensified. People are trapped between fighting and the threat of the coronavirus.
How can countries in conflict tackle the spread of the coronavirus? How far should their people give up personal freedoms and human rights? And what can international law do?
Watch Lawyers for Justice in Libya and openDemocracy discuss Libya's dilemmas.
Asma Khalifa Libyan activist and researcher and co-founder of the Tamazight Women’s Movement. She is currently a research fellow at the German Institute of Global and Area Studies. In 2017, Asma was named one of the ‘100 Most Influential Young Africans’.
Tarek Megerisi Libyan political analyst and researcher, currently a Policy Fellow of the North Africa and Middle East programme at the European Council of Foreign Relations in London.
Hanan Salah Senior Libya researcher in the Middle East and North Africa division at Human Rights Watch.
Kate Vigneswaran Senior Legal Adviser with the MENA Programme of the International Commission of Jurists. Prior to joining the ICJ, she was a consultant with the UNDOC’s Eastern Africa and Southeast Asia regional offices, Legal Director of Fortify Rights in Southeast Asia, and prosecution lawyer at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.
Chair: Marwa Mohamed Head of Advocacy and Outreach at Lawyers for Justice in Libya. Prior to joining LFJL, she worked as the Libya Researcher with Amnesty International, documenting human rights violations in Libya.
From money laundering to arms smuggling to VAT fraud, big-time criminals use one tool above all others to hide their tracks: British corporate structures.
The UK's respectable-looking register of companies distracts attention from a complete absence of checks on the people creating them. This makes the country an accessory to staggering volumes of financial crime.
What will it take to make this better?
Susan Hawley Director of Spotlight on Corruption, and one of the UK's most respected anti-corruption voices.
Peter Geoghegan Investigations Editor at openDemocracyUK and author of 'Democracy for Sale: Dark Money and Dirty Politics'
Heather Marquette Professor of Development Politics, University of Birmingham, and a Fellow in the Institute for Global Innovation’s Twenty-First Century Transnational Organised Crime research cluster.
Chair: Oliver Bullough Journalist and the author of 'Moneyland: Why Thieves and Crooks Now Rule the World and How to Take It Back'
Tenants falling behind on rent. Migrants unable to claim benefits. Families already in debt. Low-paid workers facing pay cuts or job losses. The UK government has promised help for some – but millions more still have little or safety net. Coronavirus has exposed the inadequacy of the UK benefits system, where the most vulnerable are hit hardest by the pandemic. What can we do to avoid stop-gap solutions and really protect people from poverty, both now and in the future?
Caroline Molloy Editor of openDemocracyUK
Sarah Arnold Senior Economist, New Economics Foundation
Kate Belgrave journalist and author of a forthcoming book on the UK benefits system
Chair: Mary Fitzgerald Editor-in-Chief, openDemocracy
The coronavirus crisis has brought with it an unprecedented attack on human rights around the world. openDemocracy hosted a discussion with three women leading the fight for justice and human rights around the world during pandemic – and long after.
Helena Kennedy Director of the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute, Labour member of the House of Lords in the UK.
Latanya Mapp Frett President of the Global Fund for Women, based in the US, and a former Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Global.
Monica Roa Acclaimed international women’s rights activist. In 2006, she and her organisation persuaded the Constitutional Court of Columbia to overturn the ban on abortion. She is now based in Spain.
Chair: Mary Fitzgerald Editor-in-Chief of openDemocracy
From coronavirus to climate change, China looks like it is surging ahead of the US and its allies. Are we witnessing the slow death of liberal capitalism?
Paul Mason journalist and author of 'Clear Bright Future: A Radical Defence of the Human Being'.
Dr Linda Yueh economist and author of 'The Great Economists: How Their Ideas Can Help Us Today'
Laurie Macfarlane economics editor, openDemocracy.
Chair: Mary Fitzgerald Editor-in-Chief of openDemocracy
These unprecedented times are changing how we live - but also how we feel and what we think. On 16 April, the openDemocracy team discussed how our old views are being challenged.
How the pandemic is being used to remove democratic rights around the world.
Berhan Taye Senior policy analyst for the digital rights group Access Now, based in Kenya.
Justin Spike Journalist based in Hungary, covering the Orbán regime over the last decade and currently investigating the government’s COVID-19 crackdown.
Aarti Khosla Journalist based in New Delhi, publisher of the website CarbonCopy.info and of the media agency climatetrends.in
Leigh Baldwin Editor of SourceMaterial. He previously worked as an investigative journalist for Global Witness and as a reporter for Bloomberg News, and is collaborating with openDemocracy on our DemocracyWatch newsletter.
Mary Fitzgerald, Editor-in-chief of openDemocracy, facilitated the discussion.
An online, global discussion about some of the biggest threats and opportunities of our time, affecting rights and democracies around the world – and what we can do now to start building a more just and equal future for all of us.