Guardian letter in support of Lib Dems - why I signed

Anthony Barnett
Anthony Barnett
29 April 2010

I have signed in my personal capacity a letter organised by Richard Reeve of Demos in today's Guardian. It says a great opportunity for reform is opened up by support for the Liberal Democrats and calls on Labour and Tory supporters of democracy and liberty to switch to them.

This is an extraordinary political moment. An election seemingly destined to produce a narrow Conservative victory has been seized by the voters and turned into a democratic contest – a contest not just between parties, but over the shape of our democracy itself.

What offers the best chance of democratic reform?

The question is where the energy for the future of progressive politics is to be found. It is a contemporary political fact that the stronger the performance of the Liberal Democrats on 6 May the better the chances of progressive reform.... Long-standing party loyalties, even in a less tribal world, are not easily suspended. But May 2010 offers a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reshape politics for the better. It must be seized.

When I signed I said I'd blog to add that by Liberal Democrats I mean them or other smaller parties or independents where they have a chance of winning, such as Caroline Lucas in Brighton Pavilion and the SNP in Scotland and Plaid in Wales. "I am for pluralism led by the Lib Dems not the Lib Dems monopolising pluralism!" This is the Hang 'em strategy now signalled by George Monbiot in his excellent call for post-election unity of those who want change in Britain needs a Ginger Revolution and Rory Cellan-Jones at the BBC.  It is not the same as the strategy in the letter, which is closer to David Marquand's, but the main thrust is. The critical point is this: we must stop either the two main parties from getting their monopolistic hands on the hyper-centralised UK state.

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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