openDemocracyUK: Opinion

Labour must not abandon media reform

In an open letter to Labour leadership candidates, prominent figures in the party call for continued support for deep reform to Britain's media

1 April 2020
Rupert Murdoch at the World Economic Forum
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World Economic Forum

Dear Lisa, Keir and Rebecca

As Labour Party Parliamentarians and members, we have been proud of the direction the Party has taken on media policy over the last ten years.

It hasn’t won us many positive headlines in the press, but standing up to the Murdochs, the Rothermeres, the Barclays, and other wealthy and powerful media owners has been the right thing to do.

On media ownership rules, press regulation and Part Two of the Leveson Inquiry, we have been in the right. And the public has been on our side.

Some might suggest that shelving media reform in the hope of winning favourable coverage – as the Conservatives have done – is a possible route to electoral success. But this would be to abandon our core values of social justice, fairness and democracy.

It would betray the many minorities and vulnerable individuals who are most frequently the victims of press abuse and to whom the Conservatives offer no protection. And it would let down the public at large, who would be left without hope of change in a news environment routinely poisoned by lies, distortions and prejudice. From climate change to crime and from defence to transport, no issue is unaffected.   

Our Party should continue to show leadership on this issue. That is why we are writing today to urge you to promise that, should you be the next leader of our movement, you will not abandon our commitment to media reform.

Britain needs a free, fearless and accountable media – willing and able to hold Parliament to account, to stand up for the vulnerable, and to accurately inform the public.  If the Labour Party does not fight for that, no one will.

Yours,

Parliamentarians and former Parliamentarians

Apsana Begum MP

Clive Betts MP

Ben Bradshaw MP

Kevin Brennan MP

Wayne David MP

Lord Davies of Stamford

Lord Dubs

Clive Efford MP

Julie Elliott MP

Paul Farrelly, MP for Newcastle-under-Lyme 2001-19

Gill Furniss MP

Kate Green OBE MP, Chair of the APPG for Gypsies Travellers and Roma

Lord Hain

Dame Margaret Hodge DBE MP

Baroness Kennedy of Cradley

Lord Kennedy of Southwark

Lord Kinnock

Stephen Kinnock MP

Lord Liddle

Lord Lipsey

Ian Lucas, MP for Wrexham 2001-19

Holly Lynch MP

Kerry McCarthy MP

Kate Osamor MP

Baroness Quin

Yasmin Qureshi MP

Andy Slaughter MP

Alex Sobel MP

Zarah Sultana MP

Catherine West MP

Lord Wood of Anfield

Leading supporters of the Labour Party

Shaista Aziz, journalist and equalities campaigner

Grace Blakeley, economist, journalist and author

Emily Brothers, Equalities Campaigner and victim of press abuse

Mike Buckley, Labour for a Public Vote

Ronan Burtenshaw, editor of Tribune

Steve Coogan, actor, writer and comedian

Professor James Curran, Goldsmiths University

Professor Will Davies, Goldsmiths University

Professor Natalie Fenton, Goldsmiths University

Professor Ivor Gaber, University of Sussex

Dr Mike Galsworthy, Scientists for EU

Clare Hepworth OBE

Stephen Kinsella OBE

Phil McCauley, Labour Business

Professor Tom Mills, Goldsmiths University

Professor Julian Petley, Brunel University

Hamish Sandison, Labour Business

Anthea Sully, campaigner against violence against women

Professor Damian Tambini, LSE

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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