Tuesday, 29 January 2013

The Independent publishes my letter on the need for more conventional forces, not Trident

Read online at The Independent here.

We need troops, not Trident

In a week when the Government announced 5,300 further cuts to the Army, Danny Alexander is to be commended for pointing out to his Tory colleagues that their demands for a new continuous at-sea nuclear deterrent are "not financially realistic".

But the committal of £1.35bn last year towards replacing the Trident system suggests that the military-industrial establishment are creating a fait accompli, despite Nick Clegg reiterating in October that "the final decision on Trident replacement will not be taken until 2016".

Given the Prime Minister's talk of a "generational struggle" against al-Qa'ida in North Africa, any money available for defence ought to be spent on conventional forces.

To oppose replacement of Trident is not to be weak on defence. Stronger UK armed forces depend not on unusable Trident, but on more boots, planes and ships to enable us to counter threats such as those we've witnessed in Mali and Algeria, and thereby maintain Britain's place at the diplomatic "top table".

John Slinger

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Moving words from staff in Jessops shop window shows despair of many British workers in ConDem Britain

The words scrawled by staff in a Jessops shop window are profound and moving [Courtesy of a photo by Lanza Martineta in a Daily Mail article - see here]:

"At what stage will the Government and the banks be answerable for the devastating effect they are having on the economy and more importantly, people's lives, with their radical decisions? What's happening to our high streets? Five unemployed and loyal staff seeking work. Can you help?"

The answer to their first question is: 'at the ballot box in May 2015'.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

French & now British military intervention in Mali exposes double standards & practical/moral weakness at heart of Western and global response to Syria

My thoughts on news that Cameron has deployed the RAF to Mali:


We read over the weekend that David Cameron has agreed to deploy RAF aircraft to Mali (see report here). this action, in support of an escalating French intervention, illuminates the tragic and short-sighted double standards at the heart of western and global diplomacy, in which un security council members move rapidly to launch military action, without express un security council authorisation, against Islamist rebels in Mali, yet maintain a limp and morally-flawed position of 'active inaction' on Syria, despite 60,000 deaths.

It seems the ghosts of empire and the 'war on terror' weighs heavier on the moral conscience of the west and international community than the pleas for assistance by the countless thousands in Syria who face annihilation by a brutal dictator.

It is time for Britain and France to show the kind of leadership they displayed in helping Libya.

Friday, 11 January 2013

The Financial Times publishes my letter in light of $1tn coin idea - referencing Lincoln quote on controlling money in interests of the people

Read online at the Financial Times here (£)

From Mr John Slinger.

Sir, Amid talk of the US Treasury minting a $1tn coin in a bid to mitigate problems relating to the US debt ceiling, readers may find it useful to ponder the words of a truly radical US politician, Abraham Lincoln:

“The government should create, issue and circulate all the currency and credits needed to satisfy the spending power of the government and the buying power of consumers. By adoption of these principles, the taxpayers will be saved immense sums of interest. Money will cease to be master and become the servant of humanity.”

Given that our present masters are currently creating lots of new money (through quantitative easing) but handing it exclusively to the banks, perhaps now is the time to look to the past for some inspiration about how governments can better control money supply in the interests of the people.

John Slinger, Rugby, Warwickshire, UK

NB - My father, David Slinger, pointed first highlighted to me President Lincoln's interesting quotes on money.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

The Times publishes my letter responding to Hugo Rifkind's column. My fear - Government is using child benefit as thin end of anti welfare state wedge

The Times

[Read online at The Times here (£)]

Government must not use child benefit as a way of breaking the last vestiges of fondness for the welfare state


Hugo Rifkind’s argument (“Don’t tax me just to give me my money back”, Opinion, Jan 8) against better-off people receiving universal benefits is well-made, but its chief flaw is that its logic also applies to any service provided by the State (except, perhaps, the Armed Forces and security forces). Services such as the NHS or schools are a form of “universal benefit” and while it is compelling to argue that scarce resources ought be targeted only at those who genuinely need them, the eventual consequence might be to make private insurance and education the norm rather than the exception, with State provision becoming little more than a safety net for the poor.

Many on the Right would deny such an intent (note Cameron’s desperation to be seen as a defender of the NHS). However, we must guard against the possibility of a hidden agenda in government to use issues such as child benefit as way of breaking the last vestiges of fondness for the welfare state among the middle classes, thereby eroding state provision of vital services for the bulk of the population. Such an outcome would be a dystopia and would see a government of two parties which failed to win an outright majority, eradicating more than a century of progress towards a more civilised society made by governments that won the genuine support of the people.

John Slinger
Rugby, Warks

Monday, 7 January 2013

Mid-Term Review: The Coalition moves from SICK to SLICK in the branding colour stakes

The Coalition has adapted its colour scheme in light of changed circumstances.

Back in May 2010, the ConDems needed a colour for their brand. All good PR men know that a brand needs a colour - something that represents the product or service, something that conjures up just the right feeling in the mind of the beholder (or voter). Think Santa red for Coke; think racing green for Marks & Spencer.

Back when the glorious early summer sunlight shone on the non-victory of Messrs Cameron and Clegg, they opted for the perfect colour - an amalgam of Tory blue and Lib Dem yellow. The result was a colour that can only be described as SICK. Think sick for the Coalition.

It's possible that an external design consultant was employed on an inflated fee to work their magic on those early Coalition documents, but I rather think some low-paid flunky in the Cabinet Office opened up PhotoShop and mixed together this:

with this:

Which as any design consultant could tell you, results in this awful colour:

Such a disgusting, vomit-like colour, was then deployed on key Coalition Government documents such as the 'Programme for Government':

But now today, as the Government launches its Mid-Term Review, the powers that be have decided to move from SICK to SLICK, by adopting the colour purple for its key document.

Purple is, of course, a colour to some extent appropriated by the good people at Progress, for their Purple Book.*

Quite what all these colour-related capers mean is anyone's guess. On the one hand purple might mean a move in the direction of True Blue. On the other hand, it might represent a move from the right to the centre. Alternatively (and more likely) it could mean absolutely nothing.

What does remain the case is that the mixing of these two political brands will continue to be severely nauseating for many people, not least those who are being so adversely affected by their their incompetence and the damaging decisions they are taking.


* NB: For the record, I'm a Progress member and think they're a superb organisation. The opposite pertains regarding my relationship with the ConDems!

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

My twitter-witter political predictions for 2013...

In the spirit of twitter-witter (as my daughters call it) here are some sub-intellectual political predictions for 2013 - Happy New Government!

1/10 @Ed_Miliband's ratings will be higher, in 12 months: he'll be regarded by more voters as more of a PM-in-waiting. He'll set agenda more

2/10 @uklabour's Policy Review under @JonCruddasMP will prove that from bottom to top of Party, Labour has relevant, exciting, bold ideas

3/10 The ideological/political contradictions in the Coalition will become more evident. Expect chaos/mistrust/sniping #JoysOfCoalition

4/10 @david_cameron will become (to coin his word) "frustrated"@ not being able to throw red meat on Europe/crime/tax #JoysOfCoalition pt 2

5/10 Newly-elected Labour MPs such as @andysawfordMP will make a huge impact, showing new generation can help Lab become more electable

6/10 #CoalitionFailures will continue esp on planning/big infrastructure as NIMBY county Tories across the land slap down Boles-the-Brave

7/10 #CoalitionFailures will continue w/ young people suffering for profligacy of elders-more music/sport/community schemes will be chopped

8/10 duplicity of Establishment's covert plan to replace Trident will continue. Expect yet more £billions on a project not yet signed-off

9/10 Lab will put more teeth on economic policy bone,setting out more activist position re growth & levelling w/public on scale of challenge

10/10 BBC mega-platforms #bbcaq @bbcquestiontime will continue 2 b tired formats dependent on rent-a-rant& pantomime not moderate characters


..And an extra two predictions (yawn) for good measure...

11/10(!)...& one more for the road: More Lab MPs will make an impression on the national consciousness a la @stellacreasy's top campaigning

final 2013 prediction - 12/10(!) the 'international community' will continue to show tragic weakness on Syria,failing to uphold human rights