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


Friday, 24 March 2017

Tony Blair snippet contrasting his vision of how to achieve success for Labour with that of the hard left

This makes sense, in my view...

The Economist asks...

https://www.acast.com/theeconomistasks/the-economist-asks-tony-blair

Question: (Anne McElvoy of The Economist reading out a question received by Twitter): The British Labour Party is polling at 26%. How do you feel about the idea that Jeremy Corbyn's popularity in the party is essentially a reaction to your leadership?

Tony Blair: Yeah, I'm always a bit curious about how those that are losing elections want to cast the blame for those losses on those of us who won them. 

Look, without getting into Jeremy Corbyn as an individual, because I don't think it's simply about him - my view of the Labour Party is very clear, it always has been, always will be. It wins when it builds from the centre and when it owns the future. When in other words it's addressing the problems of today with modern, forward-looking policy. 

It loses when it returns to the old shibboleths of the past and pretends that it can build from that an electoral majority.

And it's up to people to decide which view, mine or Jeremy Corbyn's, is likely to bring Labour success.