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A travesty of democracy

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.
Rukhsana Ahmad
12 January 2003

I am deeply troubled by this crisis which threatens to further divide and polarise people. It is bound to make our world a much more dangerous place.

No one wins a war: wars yield nothing but devastation, tragedy and deep smouldering hatred. Nor can a war resolve a problem conclusively. Afghanistan is a recent case in point. Poor Mr. Karzai has to depend on the US for his safety. It would be tragic if we, in the West, foolishly presumed that war is an easy option. It is never that.

I feel a kind of despair when I see the incredible might of the warmongers, the sophistication of their propaganda machine and their unwillingness to listen to reason. But, equally, I am encouraged by the extent of anti-war feeling in Britain. Despite the propaganda there is very little public support for this action. My faith in the wisdom of ordinary people is restored when I see the massive block of protest and resistance. It includes people from every faith, every race, every community, and of every political hue.

I have not as yet met anyone in real life, white, black or Asian, left, right, or centre, who actually wants this war. If our government here blatantly disregards public opinion and chooses to participate in the action, or even to bless it, it will be a real travesty of the spirit of democracy.

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. II

 

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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