Monday, 20 July 2015

My Times letter about high pay at IPSA


Sir,

Sir Ian Kennedy claims (letter, July 17) that Ipsa has been “conscious of the current climate of austerity” when setting MPs’ pay. It seems that this standard has not been applied to his or his senior staff’s remuneration. Ipsa’s last published salaries show the chairman receiving a pro rata salary of £182,000 and several senior managers more than £100,000.

Can it be that working as a senior member of Ipsa’s staff is more important than the work of an MP?

John Slinger
Warwickshire
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Online at The Times here

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

My LabourUncut blog: Labour has stepped through the looking glass

Labour has stepped through the looking glass


by John Slinger

Imagine if David Miliband had won the Labour leadership on 2010 and had taken the party to the right of Tony Blair, or even just continued where Blair left off in 2007.

Imagine if he’d led a centralised operation focused on the theorising and advice of a small group of advisers.

Imagine if he’d turned out to be an unpopular leader who had stuck to his central message that Labour needed to move to the right, entertain radical reform of public services, tackle the deficit through cuts and be avowedly pro-business, even though many commentators and many in his party thought that the cost of living crisis and pre-distribution were more important themes.

Imagine if he’d made some major tactical and PR blunders but that he managed to keep the party united and left-wingers had remained supportive and loyal (if ultimately unconvinced).

Imagine if he had stuck to his key narrative on the deficit and business before switching to the cost of living crisis with just a month to go to polling day and put it on page one of the manifesto.

Imagine he’d been level pegging in the polls for a year but in the end, led the party to a crushing and surprise defeat.

Imagine if, in the aftermath, rich backers from the right of the party were saying threatening things about leading left-wingers and spending their money to sign-up non-members to sway the next leadership race.

Imagine if his supporters, the so-called “Blairites”, argued that we lost because David hadn’t been allowed to be “Blairite” or right-wing enough and had been prevented from doing so by the lefties even though the lefties had been loyal.

Imagine if the right foisted an extreme right-wing candidate on the ballot and coalesced around him or her?
Imagine if silky voiced right-wingers took to the airwaves and spoke with utter confidence about the rectitude of their cause as if they’d won the election.

It’s hard to imagine but if you switch “right-winger” for “left-winger” then this is the Alice in Wonderland world being constructed by some in the Labour party now.

Sadly, it’s not fiction.

John Slinger is a strategic communications consultant and Chair of Pragmatic Radicalism. 

Online at LabourUncut here.

Monday, 13 July 2015

Progressonline oped: To defeat the terrorists we must defeat defeatism


To defeat the terrorists we must defeat defeatism

John Slinger | 7 July 2015 |

Syrian rebel
The terrorist group calling itself Islamic State is far from defeatist – it believes it will win. Given the defeatism displayed by the international community, especially the west, who can blame them? Defeatism leads to inaction. Inaction has consequences, for the countries concerned and ultimately, as the horrific events in Tunisia show, for our citizens. Now that the group’s death and destruction is edging ever closer to our shores, our politicians are going to have to change the narrative and mind-set from defeatism to confidence in our ability to defeat our enemy.
Suppose a prophet of doom, in the months after 9/11, had predicted the following: Al Qaeda would morph into an even more extreme terrorist group which would opportunistically capitalise on instability caused by an ‘Arab Spring’; it would form a base in Syria, out-gun and kill off moderate rebels who the west and the world had abandoned, before overturning international borders and occupying vast tracts of land in Syria and Iraq; it would declare a caliphate armed with masses of very sophisticated, captured American hardware, threaten to invade several Middle Eastern countries, perpetrate genocide against minorities, destroy antiquities and launch terrorist attacks against western targets? Such a prophecy would have been dismissed as outlandish. That it has come to pass is no accident. It has occurred because of many factors, not least of which being the west’s defeatism and the terrorist group’s toxic combination of warped idealism and brutal realism, to which we have, so far, had too few answers.
The self-styled Islamic State must look on with glee as democracies such as ours contort themselves in anguish at the prospect flying our bombers a few tens of miles northwards in order to attack them in Syria, a country whose borders they have already rendered meaningless. This is the latest manifestation of a defeatism that we have shown ever since 2011, when the moderate rebels in Syria, who first rose up peacefully against Bashar al-Assad, began asking for external military intervention. The terrorist group noticed as we made a conscious decision not to intervene to protect civilians from the Assad dictatorship, not to arm the Free Syrian Army, and not to punish Assad for his use of weapons of mass distruction. They noticed when our leaders explicitly ruled out sending ground forces. How else did we expect them to respond to this defeatism other than to exploit the opportunity it presented?
Defeatism has its own internal logic. We all feel compelled to help our fellow humans, but in light of Iraq and Afghanistan, many people have become persuaded into thinking that military action only results in chaos. The narrative develops that “something must be done, but nothing effective can be done”. This simply isn’t true. The 1991 no fly zone over the Kurdistan Region of Iraq prevented Saddam from continuing his genocide against the Kurds, enabling them to forge their beacon of openness and democracy.  The Nato action against the Serbs ultimately ended the Bosnian conflict and prevented ethnic cleansing and British intervention in Sierra Leone prevented a catastrophe. Nobody seriously believes that the international community couldn’t have prevented the Rwandan genocide had it chosen to.
Yet since 2011, the West chose to allow the narrative to develop that Syrian air defences were impregnable. Senator John McCain, a man who knows a thing or two about air defences, dismissed this on Radio 4 in March 2012: ‘We spend nearly a trillion dollars a year on defence. If we can’t defeat the air defences of a third rate power then I have a great apology to extend to the taxpayers of my state. We are supposed to have the best capabilities in the world by far.’
Our leaders’ rhetoric simply isn’t being matched by reality. When the west’s hand was finally forced, when Isis occupied Mosul and later were a few miles from Erbil in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, president Barack Obama said that US policy was designed to “degrade and ultimately destroy” them. David Cameron said the words “defeat” or ‘defeated’ eight times when he spoke to parliament ahead of air strikes in Iraq last September. Following Tunisia, he now refers to the ‘existential threat’ posed by the terrorist group.
The prime minister and all political leaders must now decide whether they are willing to defeat this existential threat now, using whatever means are necessary, at least including special forces, or wait until the atrocities perpetrated against us are so hideous that they necessitate action. Prior to 9/11, the consensus amongst western intelligence was that Al Qaeda could be contained. This proved to be wrong and hugely costly in human lives. We must choose a judicious mix of military, economic and ideological action, but first we must defeat defeatism.
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John Slinger is a strategic communications consultant and writes about foreign policy here

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

A poem I wrote...

And after 
Amidst the profound mystery
A premonition of what's past compels
Eating up experience 
Touching tangible things
Hardwiring the heard
Searing sounds, smells, speech
Of little souls 
Capture it now
Before the glimpse goes

Friday, 22 May 2015

My London Evening Standard letter on valuing humans above statues in Palmyra

During the Syrian conflict, the international community chose not to intervene as 200,000 people died. But there wouldn’t be a more pathetic image of Western weakness than if action was taken to save Palmyra.

The world must create safe areas and a no-fly zone to protect civilians — it must be hoped that, even at this late stage in the conflict, we value human life over statues.

John Slinger


Tuesday, 12 May 2015

My LabourList blog: We must “disagree without being disagreeable” to win again

We must “disagree without being disagreeable” to win again


In his last act as Labour leader, Ed Miliband bequeathed standards for the leadership election that will help ensure that the party wins again. He urged us to conduct the process “with the same decency, civility, and comradeship that we believe is the way the country should be run”. He spoke of personally bringing a culture to the party, summed up as “the ability to have disagreement without being disagreeable.”



Ed’s words are not idle niceties. As we carry out the post-mortem, offer diagnoses and seek to raise the Labour Lazarus, they compel us to do so in a climate of open, respectful debate. Those of us who believe that the clear conclusion of the 7 May result is that the party must move back to the radical centre ground of British politics and who sympathise with rather then shun New Labour, must reacquire the confidence to “disagree without being disagreeable”.

We’ll need to be robust, confident and organised, particularly given that trade unions such as Unite have called for Jim Murphy to stand down. We must challenge them when they use deliberately loaded phrases such as “the embrace of Blairism”, designed to delegitimise an entire strand of Labour thinking. It is unthinkable that someone from the right of the Labour Party would ever cite the “embrace of trade unionism” in a statement calling on a politician to resign.

Following the election defeat, we must guard against a revisionism that argues that Labour failed because Ed wasn’t allowed to be radical enough due to the malign influence of Blairites. Such a position is as illogical as those who sometimes argue that the chaos in Syria remains the fault of the West, despite the very absence of Western intervention.

It is particularly important that those who believe in a modern, progressive party, overcome the habit of self-censorship developed in recent years. Parties are necessarily broad churches, and when one group is in the ascendency, it is natural for others to self-censor in the interests of unity. One of Ed’s many achievements was maintaining party unity after losing the 2010 election, in part due to his and his senior team’s openness and the support of key people like Stewart Wood for new ideas and initiatives.

But unity also flourished because people who didn’t vote for Ed and disagreed with some of his approach, chose to give Ed their full support, despite him not being the choice of a majority of party members and the Parliamentary Labour Party. We went further than “disagreeing without being disagreeable”; we rightly offered him our complete loyalty and worked hard to ensure that he became Prime Minister. In light of this, we must not feel defensive in now setting out an alternative prospectus to the one that was soundly beaten last week.

There is little point in rehearsing the arguments ably outlined by Tony Blair, Chuka Umunna, Liz Kendall, Dan Jarvis and Peter Mandelson. I would add that the party must not just focus on policies and personalities but must review our structure and modus operandi. CLPs do admirable work throughout the country, but are often impenetrable and unattractive to ordinary voters. Success will be defined not in a new constitution but when we as ordinary members spend more time looking outwards and listening to voters, rather than inwards, talking to ourselves.

In order to do this, the party must learn how to have a more intelligent, honest conversation with voters. The old CLP mantra of canvassing in order to identify “our” voters must be overturned. We should be reaching out to people who have shunned our party in recent years. Let’s build on Ed Miliband’s call in July 2013 for us to “reach out to others outside our party” in order “to genuinely build a movement again”. If we conduct the leadership election as Ed instructed us to, we might just win the right for an audience with our true leaders – the British people.

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Online here.

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Friday, 1 May 2015

My Labour speech at the office election hustings

The following speech is from our Hanover Communications office election hustings. I had two minutes to deliver this as "leader" of our Labour Party. The results were: Tories (23), Labour (18), Lib Dems (7). Well done to all my colleagues from the other parties and all who asked brilliant and challenging questions.

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Embedded image permalink

Confounding expectations

This is an election where expectations nationally, and in this room, are being confounded.

Where Ed Miliband smashed the caricature, hugged a Hen party, while Dave forgot his footie team.

Where a Long Term Economic Plan unravelled into a Short Term Economic Con.

Where it’s now Labour competence, versus Tory chaos:

-       Our Budget Responsibility Lock: their £8bn unfunded NHS spending bribe.
-       Our balanced deficit reduction plan; their plan for secret cuts, which would result in the lowest number of soldiers since Cromwell and benefits slashed for working families and the vulnerable.
-       We’re ruling out an EU referendum, while the Tories are endangering our businesses to appease those Cameron called “fruitcakes, nutters and closet racists”.

Where Crosby’s Daleks went negative, Labour rose above the fray, and Ed looked Prime Ministerial, Zen-like, some would say Calland-like in his poise. 

If Ed worked here, I’m sure he’d even replace the coffee, use the correct recycling bins and unblock the disabled toilet.

Not only have we shown ourselves to be competent, but we’re having conversations with ordinary people - 4 million so far and counting. A contact programme so efficient it must have been run by a Hanover intern.

Tories say Cameron isn’t looking keen enough for a second term. Yet Ed said he’ll meet anyone, including Russell Brand, to encourage them to vote.

Because we’re are a party with a mission – to confound expectations about what our country, our politics, our people can achieve.

Only by making the right changes, all from a simple prospectus: that Britain only succeeds when working people succeed.

We’ll get Britain working for all of our people, by investing in skills and jobs, reforming broken markets, backing business, sorting out our long-term infrastructure and challenging vested interests.

I ask you to use your uncommon sense, confound expectations, vote Labour, support our better plan, and together, we can build a better Britain.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

My Guardian letter on our moral duty to assist migrants in theMediterranean

Online at the Guardian.
 The deaths of so many migrants in the Mediterranean shows the moral vacuity of EU governments’ belief that we can inoculate ourselves from our moral and legal duty to those in need. Since 2011, our government sought to convince the British people that it can fulfil its responsibilities to Syrian civilians merely by generous aid to refugee camps. Recent events show how shortsighted this has been for regional stability, and how tragic for the civilians involved. Similarly, the EU has cut its capabilities for maritime rescue just as the need increases, leaving the Italians virtually alone to deal with a collective responsibility.
EU governments, especially maritime nations such as ours, should offer all possible assistance to our Italian friends. If the EU is to mean anything in this dangerous world, it must show itself capable of much more than standing by as thousands drown at its maritime border. Our enemies must conclude that not only are we unwilling to fight for our beliefs and to uphold human rights, we are also willing to let innocents drown for their belief that we are compassionate, moral nations. 

John Slinger
Rugby, Warwickshire


My other writing on foreign policy can be found here.


Monday, 20 April 2015

Mediterranean migrant deaths are stain on Europe's conscience

The deaths of so many migrants in the Mediterranean is a scar on the conscience of Europe showing the moral vacuity of EU governments' belief that we can inoculate ourselves from our moral and legal duty to those in need. Since 2011, our government sought to convince the British people that it can fulfil its responsibilities to Syrian civilians merely by generous aid to refugee camps. Recent events show how short-sighted this has been for regional stability and how tragic for the civilians involved. Similarly, the EU has seen fit to cut its capabilities for maritime rescue just as the need increases, leaving the Italians virtually alone to deal with a collective responsibility. 

All EU governments, especially maritime nations such as ours, should offer all possible assistance to our Italian friends. If the EU is to mean anything in this dangerous world, it must show itself capable of much more than standing by as thousands of innocents drown at its maritime border. Our enemies are watching and drawing their own conclusions. They must conclude that not only are we unwilling to fight for our beliefs and to uphold human rights, but we are also willing to let innocents drown for their belief that we are compassionate nations.

Friday, 17 April 2015

My local letter urging people to register to vote before deadline

Sir,

It is vitally important that readers who care about the future or Rugby and the future of our country are registered to vote. The best way to do so is via the Government's website https://www.gov.uk/register-to-voteThe deadline is 20 April.

I urge the Rugby Observer to publish this letter to ensure that as many readers as possible are able to participate in the General Election and Rugby Borough Council election on 7 May.

Yours faithfully,

John Slinger
Labour's candidate for Rokeby & Overslade


Friday, 20 March 2015

Response to Bardo terrorist massacre must be focus on human rights

We read that terrorists have referred to the those innocent civilians massacred at Tunisia's Bardo museum as "infidels". One horrifying aspect of extremism, be it religious or secular, is that a group’s adherents believe that their particular belief system imbues them with superiority over others, leading them often to regard non-adherents as either a means to an end, or worse, as sub-human enemies worthy of  eradication. 

Throughout human history people professing all faiths and none have behaved in similarly appalling ways using various justifications. People of nominal Christian faith perpetrated genocide against Muslims in former Yugoslavia; tribal differences were used to fuel genocide in Rwanda; Nazis in Germany used ideological and racial justifications for the holocaust (perpetrated by alleged Christians against Jews and others) and wars of aggression; and communist political ideology was used by people to justify atrocities in Cambodia and by the Soviets.

The best way to defeat terrorism at home or abroad and to confront dictators is to focus relentlessly on human rights, because we each enjoy these by virtue solely of our humanity not as gifts of state or God. Human rights are no panacea, they must be defended, sometimes requiring action and sacrifice by those in safety on behalf of victims. 

However, they offer hope not just because they confer the right to speak freely, practice religion, be an atheist and elect governments, but because they remind us that irrespective of any religious, national, tribal, racial, political, ideological or ethnic identity, we are all united in being human and therefore owe one another respect and protection.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Times letter: government showed Putin & others our weakness in Syria

Sir, Instead of chest-thumping for Nato about how Russia is a clear danger to the Baltic states, Michael Fallon and the government ought to reflect on just why it is that President Putin appears impervious to the West and Nato’s opposition to his activities. Terrorist groups were not alone in watching gleefully as the West chose inaction (in Syria) or limited action (in Libya and Iraq) — despite the use of weapons of mass destruction against civilians, the world’s worst humanitarian crisis and the occupation of large swathes of territory by extremists. 

John Slinger
http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/opinion/letters/article4359508.ece



Friday, 13 February 2015

My Times letter on rape sentencing

Sir, You report that “Britain leads Europe on sending rapists to jail” (Feb 12), with 5,408 prisoners serving sentences for rape in England and Wales in 2013. What is truly startling is that this number, despite appearing large in comparison to our neighbours, is only a tiny fraction of the number of rapists in our midst. There were 24,043 rapes recorded by the police in the year to September 2014, and the Office for National Statistics estimated that 85,000 women were victims of rape or sexual assault by penetration in 2012. 

If all rapists were actually caught and convicted, our prison population would mushroom overnight.

John Slinger

Online at The Times here http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/opinion/letters/article4352599.ece


Sunday, 8 February 2015

The government has presided over our military & diplomatic decline

There can be no better or more tragic metaphor for Britain's decline as a global military and diplomatic power under this government than our minuscule contribution towards the anti-Isis coalition. The MPs on the defence select committee have done a great service by describing Britain's military intervention as a "strikingly modest" response to a grave threat. The Prime Minister must be held to the solemn, statesmanlike pledge he gave last year in Parliament when he argued that our intervention was designed to "see ISIL degraded and then destroyed as a serious terrorist force". 
Defence reviews, spin and blandishments cannot mask the reality that the government is following, rather than leading the public in this vital matter of international affairs.

View my writing on foreign policy here https://docs.google.com/document/d/1qgu1lzxj7J5Ukcxy66SDk8w11wjGkozyqImxyp4YU-o/mobilebasic

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Labour Uncut oped: Our rights are protected. It’s time for Labour toemphasise our responsibilities


Online at LabourUncut here.

In a 2002 Observer article Tony Blair set out the theme of “rights and responsibilities”. He sought to expose the inadequacies of what he termed the left’s “1945 ‘big state’ that wrongly believed it could solve every social problem” and the right’s “narrow, selfish individualism of the 1980s”. For Blair, responsibilities were concomitant with rights. Admirable people and organisations, from MPs to QCs, Amnesty to Liberty, the CAB to the EU, have ensured that rights are now well-defined and defended. We must remain vigilant about rights, but now it’s time to foster a “responsibilities culture.”

The culture of rights, fought for by philosophers, politicians and ordinary people throughout history has advanced human happiness, security and economic prosperity. It achieved this by imbuing individuals with rights by virtue of being human, not as gifts of God or the state.

Responsibilities should be given this irreducible, non-negotiable status. “I know my rights” is the unacceptable face of rightsism. The responsibilities agenda has historically been directed at the poor rather than the better-off, when in fact it is a universal imperative. In the future, it would be good to hear more of, “I know my responsibilities”, from citizens, companies and organisations throughout society and the economy.

Here are a few areas where the responsibilities revolution could take effect:

Crime

We are required to by the law to obey its strictures. However, we each have a moral responsibility to avoid illegal behaviour. Our criminal justice system would be much less necessary if people accepted the not unreasonable responsibility to desist from harming others. We should spend less time trying to understand the “causes” of crime and more on instilling a sense of respect for others and ensuring that violators fear the law and wider community. The challenge is huge: despite crime apparently falling, the Met reported last week that violent crime in London is up 25 per on last year.

Health

This week, several hospitals declared major incidents due to A&E over-crowding. NHS England’s Professor Keith Willett has previously said that between 15 and 30 per cent of people presenting at A&E do not need actually need to be there. Andy Burnham is right to blame cuts to social care, problems with the 111 system, and insufficient GP capacity, but individuals share a responsibility to help the NHS work effectively. While the NHS must treat all ailments compassionately, we must overcome our British reticence about the “nanny state” and more actively encourage people to change their lifestyles in order to prevent medical conditions. Gastric band surgery may be cost-effective compared to treating the long-term conditions caused by obesity, but not becoming obese in the first place would be better for individuals, the NHS and economy. Labour’s public health agenda can, in government, do more to assist individuals to lead healthier lives.

Education


Governments must cease holding teachers entirely responsible for tackling deep-set societal problems. Parents should be made far more aware that it is their responsibility to send children to school with respect for staff, a thirst for learning and with good behaviour. A national Parental Responsibility Code could be brought in.

Volunteering/active citizenship

We need more school governors, more parents able to run sports or music clubs, more Special Constables, more philanthropy, more social activism. Citizens taking on these responsibilities shouldn’t be regarded as the exception, but the norm. Empowered, active citizens of all social classes and backgrounds should feel that they are community leaders, that they are responsible for maintaining high standards within their communities. They shouldn’t require permission from sometimes moribund councils or “the authorities”. Employers could be required to allow employees time off to volunteer, just as with armed forces reservists.

Democracy

False idols like Russell Brand and other prophets of apathy and cynicism fill a vacuum created by mainstream politicians. Yet the blame isn’t politicians’ alone and must be shared with the media and public. People often say that politicians are (delete as appropriate) “all the same/corrupt/don’t listen/are lining their pockets”. These are false statements. We each have a responsibility to use the political system to change our country for the better, including, if necessary, the constitution. People can vote, join a political party or even create their own –nobody stopped Mr Farage.

Unlike our Tory and Lib Dem opponents, we in the Labour Party believe in the power and responsibility of the state to do this. Take the Tories’ Big Society agenda which focused exclusively individual and charitable action because of their ideological antipathy to an active state. It is no good proclaiming the virtues of active citizenship if you’re slashing local and national government spending. People can only volunteer in their communities if their jobs don’t require them to work all hours and if communities, through local councils, have the buildings, the playing fields in which clubs can flourish.

Only Labour can usher in a responsibilities revolution, because we can set out how the state’s responsibilities can nurture those of individuals and vice versa. Unlike our opponents, we see an enabling state working in partnership with individuals and communities to help create a fairer, more prosperous Britain.

As J. F. Kennedy didn’t quite say:

“Ask not which rights your country can protect for you, but ask instead what responsibilities you have to yourself, your community and your country”.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

July 2014 BBC radio interview with Immigration Services Union re Ebola screening: let's hope plans are better advanced now

I hope that nurse Pauline Cafferkey recovers swiftly from Ebola. Her case has highlighted once more the systems that the Government has put in place to protect Britain from Ebola and to ensure that people who may be carrying the virus get the care they need as quickly as possible.

Below is the transcription I made of what I thought at the time was a very revealing interview in July 2014 about the way the UK was preparing for handling cases of Ebola. I am clearly no expert, but the interview with Lucy Morton of the Immigration Services Union suggested to me that the Border Force had not been given sufficiently robust advice, resources or training by the relevant authorities. In fact, I would suggest that the preparation appeared almost as farcical as a scene from Yes Minister, or The Think Of It.

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BBC Radio 4, The World Tonight, 30 July 2014

Intro: The UK's health services have the ability to deal with the experience to deal with the threat posed by the Ebola virus - that's the message from the Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond...

Earlier is month Public Health England issued an alert to UK doctors...this evening Border Agency staff were provided with information. A statement from Public Health England said it and the Border Agency remain in close contact to monitor the situation and agree any additional activity as needed. The statement goes on: "it's important to note that the UK has robust systems in place already for infectious disease control, including those in airports and ports, and that the risk of Ebola in England remains very low".

What's the view from the Border Staff themselves, who police the points of entry. I asked Lucy Morton from the Immigration Services Union.

LM: The concern is what do they do if they are confronted with someone that appear unwell at the border. There is no health facility at the border, there is no containment facility and until extremely recently, within the last hour, there has been no guidance issued to staff at all as to what it was they should do.

Q: Would you be able to spot the symptoms of Ebola yourself?

LM: Absolutely not, and no more would any other Border Force officer. We are not medical professionals. The best we could do possibly would be if someone appeared to have a fever, but no, nothing more direct than that.

Q: So what advice advice are you being offered then?

LM: There is a risk algorithm which has been offered to staff very recently.

Q: A risk algorithm? [sounds bemused]

LM: It amounts to a very brief series of questions and ends with "if worried, call an ambulance".

Q: And what, are you supposed to put those questions to somebody if you think that they may have the symptoms but if you don't know the symptoms how do you know who to stop?

LM: I can't answer that one because, how do they know? If someone is symptom free, and of course they may well be, or if the symptoms are relatively mild - people don't get off long-haul air flights looking their best - then no, they've got no way of spotting it.

Q: If you suspect somebody is suffering from Ebola, where do you put them? What do you do with them?

LM: There are small interview rooms. We could remove them from the immediate public, but they are not cleaned, or sterilised, or sealed in any way, above and beyond normal cleaning. There is nowhere to put them. The instructions to staff at the moment amount to "if you're worried, call an ambulance". I very much hope the NHS has an answer to what those poor ambulance staff are supposed to do.

Q: So when we are given assurances that the risk of Ebola in the UK remains very low, because, obviously of the procedures that are on place here, what do you say to that?

LM: Nothing has changed in the procedures that are in place, from this week, to last week, to last year. There is nothing specific in place to control the risk of Ebola arriving. I'm not a public health official, I can't answer to the medical diagnosis, but for my members on the border, they have seen no change and they have no specific information.