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Out it

It is 12 January 2003 and US president Bush has rallied his troops for what he calls “The first war of the 21st century”. What is your view of this crisis, where, briefly, do you stand? This is the question we are putting to people around the world, especially those with their own public reputation and following. Our aim, to help create a truly global debate all can identify with.
Edwin Morgan
12 January 2003

I deplore the idea of a declaration of war - or even worse, a military attack without such declaration - on Iraq. I retain the rather forlorn hope that diplomacy will still find a way out of the present impasse without the loss of face, but the steady build-up of American forces (tagged by a token tail-wagging British contingent) may already have acquired a momentum of irreversibility. Who thinks of the consequences? ‘Regime change’? By imposition? How about regime change in Jerusalem? In Riyadh? In quite a few other places it would not be hard to name? What looks like the arrogance of American selectivity is of course no more than the reality of power, and it is not new in the world. But there is all the more reason to out it, to question it, to satirise it, since the stakes today are so high. The so-called Gulf War was not really a war but a one-sided massacre. Is British public opinion happy to underwrite what President Bush clearly regards as the finishing of unfinished business? Perhaps it is. If so, these are bad times!

Originally published as part of a debate on 12 January 2003 Writers, artists and civic leaders on the War: Pt. 1.

See also Writers, artists and civic leaders on the War: Pt. 2.

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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