The Disraeli Option

Anthony Barnett
Anthony Barnett
10 May 2010

The coalition talks between the Conservatives and the Lib Dems are bringing to the fore what is now known as 'the Disraeli option'. For a good description of it from a Conservative point of view, see Peter Oborne's compelling description in the Observer. For a mediation on how it could benefit Cameron see Sunder Katwala's careful dissection of the multiple options with respect to introducing fair voting, Sunder does not consider the possibility of a Great Repeal Bill securing liberty after 13 years of New Labour as an immediate, progressive legislative outcome that would benefit Britain immediately. 

One aspect neither consider is the national dimension, as mapped out in his post below by Gerry Hassan. Shirley Williams has objected to a coalition as this might destroy the Lib Dems north of the border - forseeing their destruction if they put and keep the Tories in office. But as Gerry shows, the Tories are being prevented from enjoying single party rule thanks to the continuing collapse of their influence in Scotland, where Labour is resurgent. If they make First Past the Post and 'winner takes all' politics their sticking point, then this too threatens the Union, for much the best way to achieve it would be to dump Scotland. Cameron could argue that they  should agree to put PR to a referendum, because only with it can they have a long-term chance of saving the Union. Or, to put it another way, only coalition government based on PR looks likely to be able to hold together the fissparous units of the UK now diverging from each other strongly.

PS: I forgot to add that all this is a diuscussion of what I dubbed Yellow Toryism

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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