Thursday, 23 May 2019

My Rugby Observer letter: why, after 27 years in Labour, I'm now backing Change UK in order to change UK politics


I was a Labour Party activist for 27 years, and stood as a local election candidate several times here in Rugby.

I resigned from Labour in February because the party’s leadership, front bench, NEC and membership is now dominated by the hard left and is not therefore capable of representing the interests of the vast majority of voters in our community, who abhor ideological extremes and seek the ‘three Ps’ of pragmatic, principled and progressive government.

I am now actively supporting Change UK, because they are providing a credible new vehicle to achieve these aims. Their Charter for Remain is clear about providing an alternative “based on the values which we know matter to the British people: a strong economy, our country playing a leading role in the world, protecting our environment, investing in our public services and building a vibrant, healthy democracy where we campaign for our beliefs with decency and respect.”

In a few short weeks Change UK have shown much to their credit: complete honesty and clarity about their Brexit policy of seeking a People’s Vote and supporting Remain; attracting support from across the parties including from former Labour and Tory ministers; taking on Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party; and proposing to change the way in which politics is conducted beyond Brexit. This contrasts markedly with the Conservatives and Labour.

If Rugby voters feel politically homeless, want a fresh start that is devoid of the vested interests of the other main parties, and agree with their clear policy on the EU, I recommend that they consider supporting Change UK in the European Parliament elections and beyond.

Yours faithfully,

John Slinger
[Online here.]

Saturday, 4 May 2019

My Times letter calling for boots and boats not nukes


Max Hastings is right that “sustaining a deterrent on the scale of Trident represents an unaffordable big willy gesture in a nation of our status”. As he says, no one credible “can come up with a credible scenario for its use, or threat of use.”

There are many moral objections to nuclear weapons and the replacement of our system but perhaps the practical reasons hold more sway. If Britain wishes to project its power, defend its interests, uphold its commitment to alliances, protect civilians from egregious human rights violations and assist in humanitarian disasters, we need more soldiers, surface ships and aircraft. The strong, robust and patriotic position is to divert resources away from nukes and redeploy them to bolster our conventional forces, which sorely need the investment.

Yours faithfully,

John Slinger

Friday, 19 April 2019

My Times letter on how Change UK are doing well, despite the narrative to the contrary


You claim that “the polling was less positive for Change UK” (Brexit: Nigel Farage’s party surges into European poll lead, 18 April).

Yet polling at 8 per cent is actually a good result, given that it has only been in existence for eight and a half weeks, has only just constituted as a party, has not selected its European election candidates and has not yet launched its campaign.

Perhaps more relevant, however, is that Change UK do not receive the wall-to-wall coverage that Mr Farage benefits from across the media, including numerous appearances as a talking head on all political programming.

Making any claims about Change UK’s chances at this stage is premature. The media and chattering class seem desperate to have a simple narrative: triumph for Mr Farage and little space for the emergence of a new, confident and credible centrist party that threatens to displace the major parties.

Just as Apple became the biggest company in the world, Change UK may yet disrupt UK politics in a significant way that commentators cannot comprehend, so wedded are they to the old structures.

Yours faithfully,

John Slinger

Thursday, 28 March 2019

My Times letter on automatic speed limiters

Sir, The squawking from opponents of automatic speed limiters is reminiscent of the opprobrium heaped on the Labour transport minister Barbara Castle when she introduced speed limits and seatbelts. Tens of thousands of people alive today, and hundreds of thousands who have escaped being maimed due to road safety interventions are testament to this.
John Slinger

Online at The Times here.

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

My Times letter: ‘Stale Britannia’ and a second referendum

Sir, Clare Foges is right to warn about how the project of the Brexiteers has created not “the grandeur and global reach of our past” but “echoes of past failures”. Remainers have long warned of this and offered a way out via a People’s Vote, but this suggestion has been traduced as undemocratic.

In our first-past-the-post system the winner takes all. So it is time for those who voted Leave, those who are seeking to implement Brexit, and most notably those who led the Leave campaign, to accept responsibility for the consequences that are about to befall us, whether for good or ill.

John Slinger
Online here.

Monday, 31 December 2018

My Times letter on our broken politics and wishing United for Change well in seeking to break the mould


News that a new political party will be launched in 2019 ("Centre party hopes to win power with volunteer army", Dec 29) is welcome.

The dominance of the two old parties simply reflects the lack of a credible alternative and our unfair voting system, not widespread popular support for their policies.

The system that allows this complacency to persist, and the two parties that are its chief beneficiaries, must be challenged democratically.

it is to be hoped that United for Change and others can break the mould and give millions of politically homeless people in the centre ground a credible vehicle through which to improve society in pragmatic ways.

Even if such an endeavour fails in the short term, it will expose the status quo for what it is: a system designed for the 19th century.

John Slinger

View online at The Times here.

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 -

“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 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.”