The Lib Dems are talking the talk

The Lib Dem leaders are starting to make sense in the face of the coming UK election
Anthony Barnett
Anthony Barnett
16 March 2010

I just listened to Nick Clegg on the BBC's World at One. I felt he was trying to be honest about the financial crisis the UK is facing. I don't understand what the deficit is we are all supposed to halve, who it is owed to, what it was spent on. I have a feeling that Labour's plans are not as Neil Kinnock put it in a letter to the Guardian, well "measured" and the Tories, I feel, are positioning not levelling.

This follows what I thought was a clear performance by Clegg on the Today programme on Saturday. One point struck me in particular. The Lib Dems are often very nervous and possessive about their liberalism and a strange kind of 'we are THE ONLY pluralists' is the result!

But this time Clegg focussed on the end of "the duopoly". He said that whereas in 1951 only 2 per cent didn't vote for the two main parties, now nearly 40 per cent do not. Nationalists and Greens seem to be included in this. He positioned himself as part of something wider and more open than being THE ONLY third party. This is a tremendously important development, potentially, and very welcome.

And while I'm into praising them, Chris Huhne was excellent on Newsnight on Friday. He got the alarmist, don't we need party leaders to be dictators line, at the prospect of Clegg and Co having to take the result of any negotiation over the future of a hung parliament to their colleagues and even - horror - a special partty conference. Huhne was rubust, "surprised at their surprise". This is how parties behave in countries better governed than our own!

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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