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


Sir,

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 - 
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