The Great British Summer?

As the UK gears up to the Diamond Jubilee and Olympic Games, the 'Great British Summer' is beginning. But behind the pomp and dazzle, big questions loom. What is 'great' and 'British' about these celebrations? Do they belong to the British people? OurKingdom invites you to investigate.

OurKingdom Ourkingdom
31 May 2012

If you are a citizen, an immigrant or a visitor of the United Kingdom, look around you! Everywhere, you cannot avoid being told that 2012 is the year of the 'Great British Summer': a celebration of Britishness, of identity, of 'us', as the hand of celebration is placed on your shoulder.

International readers will excuse our looking inwards but as we here in the UK are called upon to pay tribute to the monarchy and 'welcome the world' to London's Olympic Games, it's time for us to ask what is 'great', what is British, and what is ours about these celebrations.

For the union is in crisis. In the same week that Union Jacks appeared along the capital's thoroughfares in preparation for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, the Yes to Independence campaign was launched in Scotland. While we are blinded by the pomp and dazzle of the 'Great British Summer', a question is being asked whose answer will profoundly affect not only the Scots but the people of all the nations. The UK political class may bury their heads in the sand of the Thames and the spectacle of London as an unchallenged centre of power, but OurKingdom will use these coming months to ask who we are and what we mean by Britishness.

And what is ours. The ongoing assault on Britain's public sphere and transfer of power to the private sector has received a huge boost from the Olympics. Who will benefit? This momentous global event, bringing sporting eminence, team endeavour, fun and magnificence to our shores, should be a shared good, and a unifier. But towns and hamlets across the UK are banned from flying the official London 2012 banners and bunting, because they belong to the multinational sponsors who have long run UK plc behind the scenes, but have never come so close to branding our identity. And while Kate'n'Wills complete the transition into 'royal celebs', can the magic of the monarchy as the soul of these islands be sustained?

OurKingdom invites contributors to join us and reclaim the Great British Summer. This Summer does not belong to LOCOG or Lord Coe or the Queen. We welcome submissions interrogating these months of celebration, exploring the traditions, identity, culture, politics and society of the people of the British Isles, in a way that speaks to and belongs to us the people. Let the summer begin! 

Join the 'Great British Summer?' debate.

Email [email protected] with submissions and suggestions.

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.

Who is bankrolling Britain's democracy? Which groups shape the stories we see in the press; which voices are silenced, and why? Sign up here to find out.


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