Broken Government goes public

A new website is launched to map part of Britain's collapsing state
Anthony Barnett
Anthony Barnett
13 February 2010


An important new website has been created by Andreas Whittam Smith, Broken Government.

It's description is "Not Broken Britain, Broken Government".

Its aim is to map, track and debate the hopeless condition of decision making in British government. I think this is a critical part of the larger breakdown of the British state. A breakdown which is not just limited to its democracy, its legitimacy, its incoherent constitution and its unpopularity. It also plain does not work.

The question 'why not?' leads back in part to the larger breakdown. There is a danger of people in the political class seeking a purely administrative solution to the present debacle. "Let's fix decision making first and only then turn our attention to the constitution". It's an argument I've heard from, I think it was Christopher Foster, Chair of the Better Government Initiative.

But the fact that these are parallel and linked disasters feeding each other is all the more reason to welcome a dedicated website that will expose in a systematic and accumulative way how deeply the basic machinery of government is broken - as part of the wider crisis of the UK state.

In his characteristically clear and open statement of purpose Andreas writes:

As politicians seek our support in the forthcoming General Election, we know something they won’t acknowledge and may not even understand. Government doesn’t work any longer. Join with me to write an authoritative account of why this has happened. Once a reliable diagnosis is established, it will be become clearer what needs to be done

Please do join him. Take a look, put in any examples you know about, or links to descriptions of them. The site is a social networking one from its origins, another attractive feature. It's here and we will continue to link to it and support from OK.

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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