Sunday, 27 November 2011

Over 1,000 signatures colllected by Rugby Labour against hospital ward closure

Yesterday, a campaign I've helped organise took to the streets of Rugby to fight the closure of Birch Ward at the Hospital of St Cross. Together we collected over 1,000 signatures in less than three hours for our petition demanding that the University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust reverse its decision to close Birch Ward on Wednesday 30 November and commit to the long-term viability of the hospital.

Below is an update press release sent yesterday.

BBC Radio Coventry and Warwickshire interviewed me live yesterday after the 8.00am news (at 2h09m05s) - and the story appeared in news bulletins throughout the day -



Rugby Labour Party members were out in force this morning in Rugby town centre collecting signatures for their petition against the closure of Birch Ward at the Hospital of St Cross, which is happening on 30 November.

They collected over 1,000 signatures from concerned members of the Rugby community in just three hours, indicating the strength of feeling in the town about this cut to local services.

The signatures will be delivered to Andy Hardy, Chief Executive of University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust.

Said local Rugby Labour Party member John Slinger:

"Rugby Labour members today stood shoulder to shoulder with the people of Rugby against the closure of Birch Ward at the Hospital of St Cross. That we collected over 1,000 signatures in just three hours shows that the community is deeply concerned about the closure of Birch Ward and wishes to see a long-term future for St Cross Hospital."

For more information, please contact John Slinger -
More information at
Twitter @Rugby_Labour

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Sign Rugby Labour's online petition to protect St Cross Hospital

Sign the online petition here.

I'll be joining Rugby Labour members on Saturday in Rugby town centre to ask for support for our petition. Here is a press release we issued today to local media. I was interviewed about this by BBC Coventry & Warwickshire.


Rugby Labour launch campaign in town centre as Birch Ward closure approaches

· Public to be asked to sign petition calling for reversal of decision to close Birch Ward
· Party demands confirmation of long-term commitment to St Cross Hospital
· Activists in Town Centre on Saturday 26 November from 10.00am - 1.00pm

Rugby Labour members will be in Rugby's streets from 10.00am - 1.00pm on Saturday 26 November asking people to sign a petition calling on University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust (UHCW) to reverse its decision to close Birch Ward at the Hospital of St Cross from 30 November. Rugby's Labour councillors have already taken the political lead by demanding that the Chief Executive of UHCW carries out a full consultation on any changes to services in Rugby.

Paul Castle, Vice-Chair of Rugby Constituency Labour Party said:

“We in Rugby Labour Party share the deep concern of the community about the closure of Birch Ward. We’ll be on the streets asking the public to support our petition calling for the decision to be reversed and for a commitment from the NHS Trust to the long-term viability of the hospital. The entire town is worried that this decision is just the thin end of the wedge, but it’s the vulnerable, those reliant on transport and older people who would suffer most if services at St Cross were threatened once again. The people of Rugby must unite against this reckless policy.”

Notes to editors:

1) The campaigning will start at or around the Clock Tower at 10.00am.
2) For further information please see
3) The petition reads:
"We the undersigned wish to protect the future of St. Cross Hospital and the services it provides to the local community. We condemn the decision of University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust to close Birch Ward at the Hospital of St. Cross and petition that this decision be reversed and the long-term future of the hospital be unconditionally confirmed."
4) For more information please contact John Slinger at

My letter to Rugby Observer (paper) on youth unemployment and Rugby Labour's forthcoming campaign on Labour's PLAN FOR JOBS AND GROWTH

The Rugby Observer have published my letter today on the devastating youth unemployment statistics (youth unemployment has doubled in Rugby in only 9 months) and how Labour in Rugby will be campaigning on the Five Point Plan for Jobs and Growth.



Labour leader Ed Miliband told students at South Warwickshire College’s Power Academy this week that youth unemployment in Rugby has doubled in the last nine months. This a shocking indictment of the Plan A for Austerity being pursued by the Government, with Mark Pawsey's support.

Even as unemployment this week rises to 2.62 million, the Government and its Lib Dem lackeys remain dogmatically focused on austerity at the expense of a Plan B - policies to stimulate growth. There is an alternative. During their visit to Rugby, Ed Miliband and Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna discussed Labour's five-point Plan for Jobs and Growth with students. It includes a temporary reversal of the Government's VAT rise, giving a much-needed £450 boost for a couple with children and respite for Rugby's struggling high streets. It also proposes a bank bonus tax which to pay for a youth jobs fund, helping 54,400 18-24-year-olds on the dole in the West Midlands get back into work and build up to 1,900 new homes. There would be help for local businesses too - 170,000 small firms in the West Midlands would get a one year national insurance tax break if they take on extra workers. 

Rugby Labour members will be campaigning on this in town centre and elsewhere in the coming weeks, setting out a positive and credible alternative to the policies of this Government that are squandering the huge potential of the people of Rugby and the wider nation.

Yours faithfully,

John Slinger
Labour member and former Rugby Borough Council candidate

Letter to my local MP about illiberal anti-LBGT law in Russia

Mark Pawsey MP
House of Commons
London, SW1A 0AA

Dear Mr Pawsey,

I have just added my voice to a campaign run by human rights activists in Russia who are campaigning about a law being introduced by President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin's party that would make any mention of lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender issues illegal. 

The bill would criminalise any book, article or speech about sexual identity and gender orientation, labeling it "homosexual propaganda". This is outrageous and totally incompatible with genuine notions of liberal democracy. 

I would greatly appreciate your views on this matter and to know if you will raise this issue with the Foreign Office. I hope that the British Government is making the strongest possible representations to the Russian Government about this appallingly illiberal policy. I hope you agree with me that every effort must be made to oppose discrimination against gay, lesbian, bi and transgender people, both here and abroad.

You can find out more about this issue at

Thank you for taking the time to look into this issue.

Yours sincerely,
John Slinger

PS you do not need to reply in the post. An email would suffice and would save paper and your office their time. However, I would appreciate a copy of any reply you obtain from the Foreign Office (by email).

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Financial Times publishes my letter on democracy regarding German foreign minister's article


The first paragraph of Guido Westerwelle’s article (“Germany is not for turning on how to save the euro”, November 18) concludes that “despite the EU’s most strenuous efforts, it has not yet won back the confidence of financial markets”. This one sentence is very revealing, for nowhere in the German foreign minister’s analysis of the crisis is there any reference to the people.

Placing the interests of the markets above those of the people is how we got into this mess. Repeating this pattern as the solution to the crisis is doomed to failure and is an insult to the notion of democracy as “rule of the people”.

John Slinger

You can read the letter in the Financial Times here (£).

Sunday, 20 November 2011

The Guardian publishes my letter on e-petitions and Parliament

The Guardian have published my letter:

A solution to Natascha Engel's concern about public disillusionment with the e-petition system would be for all votes in the Commons arising from an e-petition to be un-whipped. To allow MPs a free vote based on their conscience would enhance public respect for MPs and the broader political system and would make it far harder for governments to ignore the will of parliament on matters of concern to voters. The fact that, from time to time, unpalatable issues such as the death penalty would arise is a necessary function of the operation of democracy, and should be welcomed for the much needed greater responsibility and status it would accord our elected representatives.

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

Monday, 14 November 2011

Rugby Advertiser (newspaper) publishes my letter on Labour's Plan For Jobs

On 3 November, The Rugby Advertiser newspaper published one of my letters (co-written by the Vice Chair of Rugby Constituency Labour Party, Paul Castle) on Labour's Plan For Jobs.

There is an alternative


Cemex’s threat to leave Rugby because of the Government’s tax policy and soaring energy bills is a timely reminder that disastrous economic policies at the national level can have a devastating effect locally. Hard-working voters are waking up to the gap between rhetoric from this Cabinet of millionaires and the reality of their disastrous economic policies. Mr Osborne lectured us that “we’re all in this together” yet only last week we read that FTSE-100 directors have awarded themselves an average pay rise of 49% despite pay freezes for average workers and sky-high inflation. The Government, propped up by its Lib Dem support act, trumpets its ‘pupil premium’ but university applications are down after the trebling of tuition fees and UCASadmit the system favours the rich at private schools. Osborne’s arrogant claim that cuts would make Britain a “safe haven” rings hollow with growth flat-lining and the country about to dip back into recession. 

And as local enforcers of the Government’s Plan A for Austerity, Conservative councillors at the Borough and County level, aided and abetted by the serially loyal Mark Pawsey, are making cuts to the police, youth services and social care, affecting those who are most vulnerable and had nothing to do with the causes of the economic crisis. There is an alternative. Last week, Labour set out a Five Point Plan for Jobs, which includes a VAT cut, tax breaks for small firms and a bank bonus tax to pay for new affordable homes and guaranteed jobs for young people. Rugby Labour will be campaigning on this in coming weeks, setting out a positive alternative on the economy. While the Tories and their lackeys believe in balance sheets at all levels, Labour believes in people, families, jobs and the society in which we live.

Yours faithfully,

John Slinger – Labour Party member and former RBC candidate
Paul Castle - Vice-Chair, Rugby Constituency Labour Party