Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Letter in The Independent: Bring the people to Westminster

Bring the people to Westminster

Your editorial (28 July) argues that Ed Miliband’s proposal for a public PMQs is “the wrong answer to the right question” of bridging the gap between the public and the political elite, and that it would be difficult to ensure that the selection of “average” citizens for these sessions was truly representative.

I support Ed Miliband’s proposal, but would go further by bringing “the people” into Parliament directly, by introducing Citizen Senators into a reformed and renamed House of Lords, selected by lot as per jury selection.

They would serve one-year terms and be given training. They would compose 50 per cent of the chamber, with the remainder made up of “Expert Senators” selected by an independent appointments system, and “Political Senators” appointed by the party leaders. The bloc of Citizen Senators would be sworn to consider legislation purely on its merit, eschewing political or other bias, much as jurors are sworn to serve justice alone.

This system would have numerous benefits, including maintaining the admirable expertise of the present House of Lords, providing an antidote to the increasing professionalisation of politics and being truly representative.

John Slinger
Chair, Pragmatic Radicalism, Rugby

View online here.

More on what I term "Citizen Senators":
  • Letter in Financial Times in April 2012
  • A longer article in which I expand on these themes appeared in the revolutionise_it pamphlet "One Nation, One World" in May 2013
  • Letter in The Times in May 2009.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Letter in London Evening Standard: Boris has all the time in the world

Boris has all the time in the world

Re the poll finding that Londoners are "against Boris Johnson taking a second job as an MP while he is still Mayor": this would be his fourth job, as Johnson already has a newspaper column and is a non-fiction writer, with a biography of Churchill coming out in October.

Given that the role of Mayor of London affords him so much spare time, I am sure a modest position as an MP, or indeed PM, could easily be accommodated.

John Slinger

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Letter in The Times: music should be as central to people's lives assport

Sir, I applaud the BBC Proms for broadening the appeal of classical music beyond its normal audience.
Music may be integral to the portrayal of sport in popular culture, but the dominance of sport in this culture makes it hard to make classical music accessible for all.

Governments, aided by the media, regard participating in sport as vital for young people’s physical and character development. This is not true of music, despite its study helping people to develop skills such as teamwork, discipline and creativity. Sadly, music is often under threat in state schools due to centrally mandated curriculum changes which emphasise “vocational skills” and the widespread misconception that classical music is boring and elitist.

Only by making learning a musical instrument as ubiquitous as learning to kick a football around can we ensure that music has a sporting chance.

John Slinger