Wednesday, 26 October 2011

The Times publishes my letter on making e-petition votes in the Commons FREE VOTES not whipped votes

Sir, You report Peter Bone, MP, as saying that “if there had been a free vote tonight this motion would have been carried.” Bone had previously praised the Prime Minister for having brought in the system whereby public e-petitions signed by 100,000 people are debated in the House of Commons.

Perhaps now is the time to ensure that all debates which flow from e-petitions must be resolved by a free vote. Such a move would go some way to restoring public faith in politicians.

John Slinger
Rugby, Warks

Monday, 10 October 2011

The Guardian publishes my letter on the Pragmatic Radicalism fringe - not all fringes are boring and irrelevant

Martin Kettle writes that conference delegates are "increasingly squeezed into passivity on the fringe". Had he attended Pragmatic Radicalism's fringe, he would have witnessed a refreshing alternative. At "Top of the Policies", 20 speakers presented vibrant policy ideas in two minutes, followed by two minutes of quick-fire questioning by the audience and followed by a ballot. Speakers included a former political secretary to Tony Blair, two MPs, one former cabinet minister, PPCs, former MPs, journalists, bloggers and, most importantly, "ordinary activists". The format was a great leveller, respecting not status or achievements past or present but the quality of the idea and the way it was presented.
This fringe showed that Labour is fizzing with the energy and ideas to help map a route to more progressive Britain. Ben Bradshaw even tweeted from the event: "Best fringe attended for years great mix of fun and serious ideas from #lab11 new generation and some old." The challenge for Labour will be to make pitches to voters which are similarly engaging, address their concerns and show vision.

The Times publishes my suggesting idea of 'state Etons' to diminish the power of private schools

We cannot abolish private schools, because we are a free country, but we must lessen their grip on the higher echelons of power
Sir, Patrick Tobin (letter, Oct 7) states that the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference will have “spluttered” on hearing Eton-educated David Cameron “denouncing” them for practising “educational apartheid”. Both the HMC members and Mr Cameron are being disingenuous. Mr Tobin may try to get private schools such as his off the hook by laying the blame for this “apartheid” on “political diktat”, yet the very existence of a class of schools which offer their excellent service solely on the basis of the wealth of parents, must necessarily create a divide with schools that provide education for all, based on a child’s universal need for and right to a quality education. Perhaps what is needed, in order to overcome the “Berlin wall” that Anthony Seldon refers to in his letter, is “State Etons” which will offer pupils the very same quality of education currently reserved for the offspring of the rich.
We cannot abolish private schools, because we are a free country, but we must do all we can to lessen their relentless grip on the higher echelons of power in the UK, as evidenced by numerous reports, including those by Alan Milburn and the Sutton Trust.
John Slinger

Sunday, 9 October 2011

The Sunday Times publishes my letter on QE

Out of print

The £50 billion of quantitative easing (QE) you referred to (“Bank poised to print £50bn”, News, last week) comes on top of a previous £200 billion showered on banks that have actually hoarded the money to restore their balance sheets, showing that QE is little more than Orwellian doublespeak.

The money has not been “printed” and is therefore not being spent in an economically productive way by ordinary people doing ordinary jobs or running businesses.

John Slinger, Editor of Pragmatic Radicalism: Ideas from Labour’s New Generation, Rugby, Warwickshire (£)

Friday, 7 October 2011

Citizens' QE is needed to get money into the 'real' economy

Last month, The Guardian published a letter of mine calling for Citizens' Quantitative Easing. There has never been more of a need for this policy than now. Instead of piling more electronic money into the coffers of banks, which resolutely refuse to lend it on, or cutting taxes (which loses the Government revenue), simply printing money and giving it to the people in the form of vouchers which can only be spent locally and through SMEs or traders will give a much needed boost to the REAL economy. It's been done in Taiwan. It can be done here. It should be done here.

When I hear on the radio this morning that "£75bn is being created, given to the banks in the hope that / to encourage banks to lend a little more or with lower interest rates, into the real economy" I am angry. So we give them £75bn and then only "hope" they'll do what is essential. This is crazy. How many other sectors would get such largesse on the off-chance they'll do what is required in the national interest? My scheme gives £200 each at cost of £9.6bn. The next round of QE is equivalent to £4500 each. This is, to coin a phrase, 'crazy money'. It's just electrons in computers in the final analysis, so why not put these electrons to good use in the real economy rather than shower it on the people who got us into the mess in the first place, ad infinitum?

Based on Question Time last night, when one audience member advocated something like Citizens' QE, I suspect that the people are getting more and more bewildered at how £75bn can be magicked from thin air, but their local NHS centre is cut, or their youth centre which cost £200k per year, is closed. Seems like monetary activism is reserved for the large banks and the City while the rest of us are expected to make do with Cameron's "can-do optimism".

People won't buy this for much longer. Not least when we go into recession again or the banks, yet again, need re-capitalising and Osborne comes to taxpayers for another bailout. It is simply politically unacceptable and there will be political and social consequences which are not pretty.

I suspect we are in the calm before the storm. The defenders of the status quo have a lot more explaining to do to ordinary people to show them how this 'system' works in their interests.

The Guardian publishes my letter comparing Cameron and Churchill's "can-do optimism" - Churhill USED the state to win WW2

Churchill applied "can-do optimism" to fighting the second world war. He also deployed the state – factories were requisitioned, food rationed, soldiers conscripted, infrastructure built etc. Optimism, while helpful, is not enough. If the ordinary and vulnerable in society have nothing but the patronising "can-do" spirit of a cabinet of millionaires to help them through this economic turmoil, they will soon start listening to Ed Miliband's call for a "new bargain".

John Slinger
Editor, Pragmatic Radicalism: Ideas from Labour's New Generation

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Rugby Observer print my letter on cuts to youth services

The Rugby Observer

Youngsters hit by cuts

I HAVE learned a homework club being run in Rugby by Norris McKenzie has closed following a cut in its funding made by the county council.
Given the rioting we as a nation saw in August, it is a disgrace our young people must bear the brunt of the cuts to services being made by the Conservative-led Government and Conservative-run councils in Warwickshire and Rugby Borough.
Services such as this homework club are just the kind of 'Big Society' initiative the Government likes to trumpet, and yet as the young people of Rugby are discovering, it is often little more than empty rhetoric.
Under this Government we have record youth unemployment, the scrapping of the Educational Maintenance Allowance and no plan for economic growth. Our young people deserve more and only Labour, locally and nationally, can offer them a better future.

John Slinger
Labour Party member and former RBC election candidate