Baroness Warsi says England should learn from Scotland

Scotland has received praise of late for encouraging social inclusion, bringing about a strong sense of national identity. England is placed in contrast, as a country that wants everyone to 'be like one of us' and become English. What nonsense. Today's England has failed to foster any sense of civic nationalism, whether inclusive or not.
Gareth Young
8 March 2011

It's hard to know whether to laugh or cry over this article in the Scotsman. Eddie Barnes and Alistair Dalton write:

Baroness Warsi said Scots had "been much better" than the English at finding a core identity around which people could find common ground.

She noted that people from Pakistan who had settled in Scotland felt far more comfortable describing themselves as Scottish than those who came to England.

What Sayeeda Warsi fails to mention is that the Conservatives deliberately supress any sense of English nationhood for fear that it will lead to demand for an English parliament and English governance. This results in a situation in which David Cameron can give a speech on reforming public services in England without once mentioning the word England; in which Michael Gove will bang on about teaching 'British history' in 'our schools' when he's talking about schools in England (and then has the word 'England' erased from the Dept of Education website); in which MPs like Mike Penning, Stephen O’Brien and Andrew Lansley all put out press releases whose territorial application is England-only but which fail to mention the the word England.

Baroness Warsi, if you happen to be reading I strongly suggest that you read my appeal for an English civic nationalism.

The Scotsman article continues:

Positive Action in Housing director Robina Qureshi said: "The Scottish Government has openly challenged racism and fascism, which has brought about people having a strong sense of Scottish identity. 

"In England, that is not happening. David Cameron's message is 'you will be like one of us' and become English, which tends not to be inclusive."

Complete blithering nonsense. Cameron, Brown and Blair were/are all advocates for British identity or 'Britishness'; not one of them ever spoke out in favour of strengthening English identity, inclusive or otherwise. While the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish Governments have concentrated on fostering a patriotic civic nationalism in their countries, the British Government has completely ignored the case for an English civic nationalism.

This piece was originally published on the blog Toque.

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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