Nick Clegg, Four Horsemen and the Day of Judgement

John Jackson
19 May 2010

Reading the text of today’s speech by Nick Clegg, in which he promised a re-alignment of the relationship between the people and the state, “the biggest shake-up of our democracy in 178 years”, I concluded that he was in danger of dividing himself into the four beasts that, according to the Book of Revelations, are to ride horses of different colours symbolising unpleasant things and to set a divine apocalypse upon the world as harbingers of the last judgement.

The four unpleasant things revealed by Clegg are:-

  •  We are to be given a choice only between two ‘unproportional’ ways of electing our MPs -  by ‘first past the post’ and the ‘alternative vote’.
  •  There are to be elections to the House of Lords by a system which  ensures proportional representation of (and therefore dominance by) the political parties.
  • ‘We’ are to be given no opportunity of suggesting different ways of constructing ‘our’ parliament to which Nick Clegg will, together with other political notables, be accountable.
  • There is no proposal for a system accepting some separation of the powers and which permits the appointment of ministers who are neither Peers nor MPs whilst ensuring their accountability to Parliament.

All of these, sins of commission and omission which reek of lax thinking and  a frantic cobbling together of compromises in the course of agreeing the coalition, are really bad, even if his proposals on ensuring our liberty are excellent.

If we are to have a thorough shake-up it must recognise the need to re-align not the relationship between the people and the state but that between the people and the political establishment. It is the political parties that must find the courage to ‘let go’ and to return the power that they have stolen from ‘the people’. If this is not done then the ‘new politics’ we are told about will be rejected, particularly by young in purple. And the last judgement of our political masters will be particularly horrid.

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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