Saturday, 6 October 2018

Noel Gallagher is slated on Jeremy Corbyn but we should listen to him - he’s shrewd on UK politics

I reckon Noel Gallagher’s analysis regarding Jeremy Corbyn shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand. He’s highly intelligent and his 2011 interview on Newsnight says some home truths about British politics and society.  

Brilliant interview by @StephenSmithBBC with @NoelGallagher on @BBCNewsnight In 2011 following the riots. 

From 6m38s - 
https://youtu.be/ZrjYc87dQZM

“When I was growing up. We were the working class and we were the lowest. There’s a level underneath that now - they’re the ‘can’t be bothered working class’ and they’ve grown into a culture of benefits...But there’s many reasons for those riots. There’s no excuse, but if you’re constantly bombarding young people on 24 hour television with a lifestyle that they can’t have - magazine for girls with two thousand pound handbags, X Faxtor and all this kind of celebrity lifestyle which is frankly what all young people want. You constantly bombard them with that and no hope of ever getting it. Then a few of them get together and they’re like “let’s put Curry’s window through - at least we’ll get a couple of tellies out of it.” You can’t expect them not to behave like animals when they’re uneducated like animals.”

Asked about David Cameron’s effort in the US launching ‘GREAT Britain’, rebranding, Noel said: 

“...They’re just vague one liners to appease the people on the news channels. They don’t mean anything. 

“It all boils down to basic human values in the end and if you don’t give people work and if you don’t educate them, society crumbles. The end. That’s it. So you can do as much as you like for businesses and small businesses, you know, loophole tax...it really all comes down to basic human needs - work and education - and if you’ve got that, people have respect themselves and respect for each other, eventually.”

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Letter in The Times (and The Week) on the dangerous use of language such as 'mutineers' regarding Brexit

Sir,

Our politics is demeaned not by MPs or citizens exercising their democratic rights in the national interest, but by terms of abuse describing them as ‘mutineers’, ‘traitors’, or ‘enemies of the people’. The words used in public debate create a climate in which people act. Hyperbolic words relating to legal concepts that in previous times could lead to capital punishment, are extremely dangerous.

We must disagree agreeably or it will become clear that we are not the democracy we tell the world we are.

Yours faithfully,

John Slinger




The letter also appeared in The Week








Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Democracy and the Brexit referendum

One of the most fundamental tenets of a functioning democracy is that If a party makes a promise in a general election campaign that turns out to be unrealisable at best and disingenuous at worst, voters can throw out that party at the next election. This protects the public from those who would say anything to get elected by rendering such tactics self-defeating.

Contrastingly, we are led to believe by many in both sides of the Brexit argument that the people are not entitled to "speak" again even if it can be shown that they were pursuaded to vote Leave on a flawed prospectus. Democratic principles are apparently upheld by muting the "will of the people" in perpetuity on the biggest political, economic and social issue since the Second World War.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Guardian letter on both wings of the Labour Party needing to build bridges


Both wings of Labour must quickly build bridges. We centrists must admit we were wrong about Jeremy Corbyn’s ability to win electoral support and his suitability to be leader or prime minister. We must offer all assistance to the task of securing a Labour victory. And he and his team must show magnanimity in the heat of victory by welcoming former critics back on to the shadow frontbench and making clear to their supporters that Labour is and always has been a broad church that tolerates and even celebrates a wide range of opinions.

This is important for two reasons. First, Jeremy Corbyn will be able to show the country that he leads not only a unified party but one that represents all strands of Labour thinking. Second, it is a point of electoral maths that to win a majority, Labour must attract people who voted Conservative. It can only do this with the centrists on board.

Pragmatic Radicalism, the policy forum I co-founded in 2011, sought to bring different parts of the party and others together to develop policy ideas. As a backbencher, Jeremy Corbyn spoke at our 2012 Top of the Policies event on defence, chaired by Jim Murphy, the then shadow defence secretary. Such debates, in a spirit of openness and respect, are needed more than ever now. I hope that Jeremy might even chair one of our events in this new parliament.

John Slinger
Chair, Pragmatic Radicalism


Saturday, 1 April 2017

My Financial Times letter on Brexit being more than just leaving a union of economies



Letters page, 1 April 2017 

We are cutting emotional and social bonds, too

Sir,

I am not alone in regretting the commencement of the process that will in all likelihood result in the UK leaving the EU. Setting aside the various practical arguments about Britain's political, trading, economic and diplomatic interests in a post-Brexit world, we should not forget the emotional aspect, which is equally, if not more important. 

Many Britons regard themselves as having multiple identities, a key one of which is their citizenship of the EU. This represents the emotional, cultural and social bonds between the peoples of Europe. Of course such relationships pre-dated our joining the EU and will persist beyond Brexit, but it cannot be denied that collectively, the UK has, albeit by a narrow margin, turned its back on a union of peoples, not just a union of economies. 

The government claims that "we're leaving the EU, not Europe" but this is only true at the technical level. Emotionally, we are leaving our European brothers and sisters and it is a sad day that we may come to regret.

Yours faithfully,

John Slinger

https://www.ft.com/content/367c4148-1575-11e7-80f4-13e067d5072c


Friday, 24 March 2017

Tony Blair snippet contrasting his vision of how to achieve success for Labour with that of the hard left

This makes sense, in my view...

The Economist asks...

https://www.acast.com/theeconomistasks/the-economist-asks-tony-blair

Question: (Anne McElvoy of The Economist reading out a question received by Twitter): The British Labour Party is polling at 26%. How do you feel about the idea that Jeremy Corbyn's popularity in the party is essentially a reaction to your leadership?

Tony Blair: Yeah, I'm always a bit curious about how those that are losing elections want to cast the blame for those losses on those of us who won them. 

Look, without getting into Jeremy Corbyn as an individual, because I don't think it's simply about him - my view of the Labour Party is very clear, it always has been, always will be. It wins when it builds from the centre and when it owns the future. When in other words it's addressing the problems of today with modern, forward-looking policy. 

It loses when it returns to the old shibboleths of the past and pretends that it can build from that an electoral majority.

And it's up to people to decide which view, mine or Jeremy Corbyn's, is likely to bring Labour success.

Friday, 16 December 2016

My op-ed for The Telegraph on the failure of international justice in Syria in comparison to Bosnia

The Telegraph




Opinion

Hoping to prosecute the butchers of Aleppo is a sad fig leaf for the West's failure to intervene in Syria

JOHN SLINGER    

15 DECEMBER 2016 • 4:33PM

The nightmare in Aleppo has coincided with the trial of former Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic in The Hague reaching its concluding arguments. Given that the UK and other Western countries are collecting evidence for possible future prosecutions for war crimes in Syria, including through the use of drones and satellites as the BBC reported yesterday, we should consider what scope exists for international justice in that country.

A comparison with the 1992-1995 Bosnia conflict shows up the devastating extent of our non-intervention in Syria. Many reading this will remember watching in horror as Western powers appeared to hide behind the buck-passing "civil war" descriptor while ethnic cleansing and genocide raged. "Srebrenica" and "Sarajevo" became emblazoned in our minds as examples of humanity's failure to act, much as "Aleppo" has today. Yet relative to Syria, Bosnia saw a massive degree of military intervention by the West. European powers led UNPROFOR'sdeployment of 38,000 personnel, including ground troops, at the beginning of the conflict, with a UN mandate to protect “safe havens” and “no-fly zones”. Contrast this with our public declaration that we would never use ground troops in Syria and the desperate pleas from our MPs for even minimal airdrops in this week’s emergency debate.

Bosnia benefited from US leadership, albeit belated. As the Bosnian Serbs continued their brutal actions, the Americans, frustrated at Europe’s failure on their own "doorstep", intervened decisively by leading a huge NATO air campaign to end the war. The resulting 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement set in train a comprehensive international effort towards reconstruction and the minimisation of inter-ethnic conflict through structures such as the Office of the High Representative.

The Syrian war has seen the opposite approach from the Obama administration: resistance to arming the moderate rebels; a training programme cancelled after $500 million was reportedly spent training “four or five rebels”; refusal to use air power long before Russia deployed advanced air defences, prompting Senator John McCain to tell Radio 4 in 2012 that "If we can’t defeat the air defences of a third rate power, then I have a great apology to extend to the taxpayers of my state.” Most shamefully of all, it drew and then erased its own red line on the use of chemical weapons in 2013.

The prosecution of the likes of Mladic at the UN's International Criminal Tribunal (ICT) for the former Yugoslavia flowed from the concerted, if imperfect, Western-led, international efforts to rebuild the affected countries following a decisive military intervention and peace process. The suggestion now from Western leaders of bringing international criminal prosecutions over Syria is mere clutching at straws by those desperate to do at least something in an arena they’ve already withdrawn from. There is no guarantee that prosecutions would occur within a post-conflict Syria, given the likely influence of Assad’s allies. But even in the best-case scenario, the evidence from other ICTs is not heartening.

A quarter of a century after the horrendous crimes against humanity in Bosnia and Rwanda, only a tiny fraction of perpetrators have been prosecuted, let alone convicted. In Rwanda, only 93 people have been indicted, of whom only 62 have been convicted by the ICT, for a genocide which killed one million. In the case of the former Yugoslavia, the figures are similar, with 82 sentenced of the 154 accused to date. Noble principles stand behind these tribunals, whose staff are undoubtedly doing the best they can in difficult circumstances. However, foot soldiers or leaders engaged in war crimes are unlikely to be deterred by these conviction rates.

The most important lesson from Bosnia is that decisive intervention, backed up by long-term political and economic support for the countries concerned, can succeed in ending seemingly intractable conflicts. In Syria, the West's ability to influence events was never a matter of military or economic power, but of political will. Only after we showed that we had very little of this through our inaction did the Russians, Iranians and others assert themselves, to devastating effect.

Because of the reality on the ground and the Trump administration's likely desire to strike a deal with Russia over Syria, there is at present no realistic scope for military intervention by the West. We abdicated our responsibilities and other actors filled the vacuum. Throughout the West, politicians of all parties are examining their consciences: Ed Miliband and many Labour MPs for failing to give the Prime Minister sufficient support for military action in the crucial 2013 vote, and leading members of the Cabinet in the last Parliament for not arguing more forcefully for a robust response.

Opponents of intervention such as Jeremy Corbyn often cling to concepts like international justice and human rights as an alternative. It is patently clear that these concepts are not worth the paper they're written on if they're not enforced. Now, it seems that our politicians generally are reduced to issuing vague threats to prosecute today’s war criminals, instead of preventing their crimes from occurring. That's an absurd fig leaf that magnifies rather than masks our collective weakness.

John Slinger is a strategic communications consultant who has worked on Middle East politics

Online at The Telegraph here.