Let’s reset our future

The starting pistol for openDemocracy's new series on how to refound politics in Britain.

Henry Porter
23 July 2016
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You may wonder about life in Britain since the EU referendum. For a start, how come we have a new prime minister without a single vote being cast in the country, or even by the Conservative party membership? And how is it that one of the first acts of that prime minister was to shut the climate change department, just as Atlantic ice levels – a key measurement of global warming – hit a record low? You may also wonder why Britain is on course to leave the European Union, why it was possible for so many lies and half-truths to dominate the campaign; or why there’s no influential voice at the centre of British politics to represent the millions who wanted to remain, or indeed the under 35s who voted by a clear majority against Brexit. Or why there is no influential voice to represent the people who voted leave. You may wonder – or even despair – at the loss of acceptance and fair-mindedness in our country, at the upsurge of racism and hate crimes, and the sharp divisions between North and South and between England and the rest of the United Kingdom.

Indeed, you may wonder what has become of us and of our democracy.

Let’s reset -

- our relationship with Europe, so that a dishonest campaign does not stand as the defining moment in our relations with our European neighbours

- our democracy, so that voters have proper representation in parliament.

- our attitudes to the increasing social and economic inequalities entrenched under the last three governments so they can be reversed

- our climate change policies so that they are forever at the heart of British culture and government.

- the relationship between the different parts of the United Kingdom

- the British constitution so it’s written down and we all have a say in shaping it

Let’s reset our future

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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