openDemocracyUK

In the 'Nick' of time

Anthony Barnett
Anthony Barnett
22 April 2010

Tomorrow, I hope oD will publish an overview on the electoral insurrection now seemingly underway in Britain. In it I say that "popular desire for real reform has lifted the Lib Dems onto its shoulders". One reason for this is that in the course of the first TV debate the party's leader became instantly know as "Nick". I was laughing about this with Jeremy Gilbert at the University of East London, where I'd been to speak at a colloquium on the meaning of the election (if you wish, you can listen to all three hours here). It's not always that this name tagging happens. Even with Blair, 'Tony' was an uncertain identification. Unlike 'Ken' or 'Boris' when you instantly know who is being referred to. Jeremy agreed. He remembered someone predicting that Kinnock would never win an election because he was never popularly known as Neil (whereas Thatcher was known as Maggie). Will the same rule apply to Brown, although he is sometimes referred to as Gordon, and to Cameron, who is never known as David? Go to it, Nick!

Who's getting rich from COVID-19?

Boris Johnson's government stands accused of 'COVID cronyism', after handing out staggering sums of money to controversial private firms to fight COVID-19. Often the terms of these deals are kept secret, with no value-for-money checks or penalties for repeated failures which cost lives. And many major contracts have gone directly to key Tory donors and allies – without competition.

As COVID rates across the country surge, how can we hold our leaders accountable? Meet the lawyers, journalists and politicians leading the charge in our free live discussion on Thursday 1 October at 5pm UK time.

Hear from:

Peter Geoghegan Investigations editor, openDemocracy, and author of 'Democracy for Sale: Dark Money and Dirty Politics'

Jolyon Maugham Barrister and founder of the Good Law Project.

Layla Moran Liberal Democrat MP (TBC)

Chair: Mary Fitzgerald Editor-in-chief of openDemocracy

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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