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Purple rally for fairer votes in Manchester

There will be a purple rally on Tuesday evening calling on Ed Miliband to back the campaign for fairer votes.
Guy Aitchison
27 September 2010

Campaigners for electoral reform will be listening keenly to Ed Miliband's speech on Tuesday afternoon to hear what he has to say about the forthcoming referendum on electoral reform.

On the face of it, the election of Ed, rather than David, is a welcome development for the "Yes" camp. Although Ed is not a supporter of proportional representation, he has been consistently supportive of AV and was quite deliberately positioning himself as the more reforming candidate. David, on the other hand, had given out mixed signals over whether he'd campaign for a "Yes" vote, telling the FT that he'd "cross that bridge when we come to it".

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Having made his support for AV so explicit, it would be difficult for Ed to backtrack now, but it's still conceivable that he might decide to pay lip service to supporting a Yes vote, whilst refusing to commit any of the party's campaigning energy and resources to it. He faces internal pressure from the more tribal and conservative voices in the party to either abstain from the referendum or join the motley group of radical right-wingers campaigning to keep first past the post.  

Islington MP Emily Thornberry, an Ed supporter, is staunchly against AV, telling conference today, according to the Guardian, "It's not proportionate...I don't believe someone's third preference should have equal importance to someone else's first preference ... and in the end you get more Lib Dems."

Other Labour figures have even made the extraordinary argument that since the referendum is "doomed", the party should have nothing to do with it so as not to "go down with the ship". One would hope that Ed, who aspires to lead a "progressive" and "reforming" party, would have no truck with such dubious, self-serving nonsense and instead fight for causes because they're worth fighting for. If he's sincere about wanting Labour to rediscover the reforming zeal it had in the 90s, as he told Andrew Marr, the best way to show it would be to embrace the cause of democratic reform with gusto.

This will be the message of campaigners for fairer votes at Take Back Parliament's rally in Albert Square, Manchester, Tuesday, 6pm. There will be a purple light-show and speeches from Billy Bragg, Neal Lawson, of Compass, Fiona MacTaggart MP, and Billy Hayes, of the CWU.

We will call on the new Labour leader to commit to a better democracy for this country and get behind the Yes campaign. Please come along, if you can, wearing purple - and help spread the word through Facebook and on Twitter.

No pass is needed for this event, as it's outside the conference venue, so if you're in the area, you really have no excuse!

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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