Tory Democrats

Anthony Barnett
Anthony Barnett
15 February 2010

John Strafford of the Campaign for Conservative Democracy had a significant column in yesterday's Observer. He describes how decision making in his party has been scooped away from its members and centralised. He calculates that the core of the party has been reduced to a rump of "10,000 councillors, their families and friends". I can't tell how accurate this is, but I do know that it is part of a larger picture that suggests the crisis of political parties goes much deeper than formal numbers of membership, steeply declining though these are.

All the usual reform proposals assume that there is a lively party system in existence....

Strafford has created a petitition on the No10 Website of the utmost reasonablness which nonetheless could be devastating for politics as we know it:

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to introduce legislation so that the Electoral Commission cannot register a political party unless the party has a democratic constitution which can be changed by a majority of its members on the basis of one member one vote.

I've just added my name.

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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