Coalition or Merger?

Anthony Barnett
Anthony Barnett
12 August 2010

Rather bleary, I heard a package on the Today programme this morning with James Graham saying that join press conferences, such as yesterday's with Chris Huhne and Barnoness Warsi, were not a great idea. James ruled out a 'Coupon Election'. The issue is hugely important for the short-term future of UK politics. Are we looking at a de-facto merger not just a coalition? Back on 10 July David Cameron told the Mail that he envisaged a form of electoral truce in 2015,

'We have different underlying philosophies and differences in approach and policy. But obviously if we are fighting a separate election after a successful five-year government, I hope we will be relatively polite about each other.' The usual election battle between the parties would be 'rather odd having had a government we could be proud of', he said.

The suggestion of a continuing electoral pact, clearly implicit here (with the possibility of candidates not running against each other in marginal constituencies) should have been politely but firmly shot down by Nick Clegg. It wasn't and this has created a perfect eddy for media speculation to grow around.

Cameron's message could not have been clearer,

'I think if we can succeed we can demonstrate that these two parties can work well together for the good of the country – that I think does reshape politics.'

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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