openDemocracyUK

Michael Wills - a response: your main reform is a botched stich-up

Stuart Weir
10 March 2010

An OurKingdom conversation: Michael Wills > John Jackson > Michael Wills > this post

I can quite understand why Michael Wills is upset about John Jackson's note on his struggle to move the democratic agenda forward with a government which is alternately hostile and indifferent and under a Prime Minister who blows hot and cold, hot and cold, on all the issues. My guess is that he is a genuine democrat who has been given a very uncomfortable and impossible brief.

However, the whole enterprise was flawed from the very beginning. In the July 2007 governance paper the spelling out of the problems was ducked which weakened the proposals for dealing with them. I said as much in a meeting Michael Wills - held with reformers in an attempt to get us on board and support the initiative.

It is no good saying that progress is slow and incremental on constitutional reform in the UK - my god, we know that too well - when nearly all Labour's reforms since 1997 have been predicated on preserving the power of the executive more or less intact.

All right, freedom of information has largely escaped the built-in safeguards for executive hegemony and Scotland has proved to be an evident model for reform at work. But Wills draws attention to the disgraceful pledge for a referendum on the two majoritarian electoral systems on the assumption that it is a good thing. I differ from that view; the public are not being offered a genuine choice which should be the principle of all referendums. The government has simply controlled it by fiat and offered only the prospect of straight AV because its leaders believe that the parliamentary party can live with it at a pinch (though my guess is that those MPs who fear AV are being quietly reassured that it will never happen).

How can any democrat possibly favour a referendum which denies the people a full choice of the alternative systems that exist, including AMS as in Scotland and Jenkins's AV Plus? It is an abuse of power that would be all the more serious if it were not also a botched stitch-up.

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.

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.

Comments

We encourage anyone to comment, please consult the oD commenting guidelines if you have any questions.
Audio available Bookmark Check Language Close Comments Download Facebook Link Email Newsletter Newsletter Play Print Share Twitter Youtube Search Instagram WhatsApp yourData