Heathrow: the curtain fails to fall on this pantomime

I MISSED last night’s Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) meeting which the Prime Minister addressed.

There are usually at least 200 or so attendees, and apparently three or four of them gave the PM a hard time over the impending Heathrow announcement. So now, Sky News are reporting a possible delay in the the announcement while GB tries to smooth some ruffled feathers. I hope this isn’t true – we need a positive announcement about the third runway going ahead as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, some luvvies (and a couple of MPs) have tried to scupper any future development by buying up some of the land that would be needed for construction. Must be nice not to have to worry about the economy or unemployment. But if the runway gets the go-ahead, I have a feeling such gestures won’t count for much, or at least I hope they don’t.

I saw an interview on TV last night with a young girl who had taken part in a “peaceful” protest at Terminal One (apparently it’s okay to have a demonstration which disrupts people’s travel plans,  provided you don’t hit any police officers) who was bemoaning the fact that she had been reduced to this kind of protest because no-one was listening to her arguments. Well, perhaps she should consider this: maybe her arguments have been listened to but have been found wanting. Just because you feel strongly about something does not necessarily mean that your view must prevail.


Filed under Department for Transport, Economy, Environment

30 responses to “Heathrow: the curtain fails to fall on this pantomime

  1. Simon

    I can’t see how buying up a field is going to help.

    If the Government is willing to throw people out of their homes and bulldoze their livelihoods, the ownership of an empty field is hardly going to stop them.

  2. Paul Williams

    Meanwhile, some luvvies (and a couple of MPs) have tried to scupper any future development by buying up some of the land that would be needed for construction…but if the runway gets the go-ahead, I have a feeling such gestures won’t count for much, or at least I hope they don’t.

    Perhaps the builders could take inspiration from Stott Hall Farm, which is stuck in the middle of the M62, and build the third runway round it 🙂

  3. Johnny Norfolk


    Bans 100w Light bulbs.

    Builds 3rd runway at Heathrow.

    Tells you all you need to know.

  4. Quentin

    Wasn’t this trick tried when protestors tried to stop a motorway/bypass bieng built in the late 70s/80s.
    Didn’t the government of the day simply amended the law to avoid having to trace each and every land owner???

  5. Robert

    Never mind it’s all about politicians and not the people, bring on the next election.

  6. John

    Totally agree with you Tom. Economically a third runway is an absolute must, and I am both shocked and disappointed to see the Tory party not backing this. From what i’ve read though, most Tories actually are, it’s just the idiots at the top that don’t?

    Anyway, thank god for the principal of “compulsory purchase” at a time like this. The best bit is that any legal argument they could have against it is painfully weak. After all, they bought it to stop the third runway, it’s not little Timmy’s home or anything.

    I look forward to their field with tarmac over it. If for no other reason than to crush their attempt at substituting their own will with those of our elected representitives. There is protest – perfectly acceptable, there is legal challenge – perfectly acceptable, and there’s this – not even close to being acceptable. This is over the line.

  7. richard

    Personally I’m in favour of a third runway but I fail to see how it squares with Labour’s supposed support for CO2 reduction.

  8. Blackacre

    The thing is that a 3rd runway is not an economic necessity and indeed it is difficult to see how the supposed gains will outweigh the considerable misery it will cause to the tens of thousands who will be under its all day (and night probably) flight path. I am still unconvinced that the benefits to BA and BAA (which are clear) will go beyond that – the last thing we need is yet more transit passengers assisting the UK economy with a Starbucks coffee for such increased misery.

    We are always so short term in this country – if we need a vast airport to compete with the European hubs, Heathrow will not do. There is no space for a 4th let alone 5th and 6th runways. The logic of your argument, Tom, is that this will be needed – where is it to go.

    As for the Tories, I am obviously delighted with their policy which is right, although I am not convinced it will survive so it is still the LibDems for me.

  9. Simon

    If GB does delay the announcement he’ll have found the one thing that’ll make him more unpopular than either approving it or not approving it.

  10. Pendolino Warrior

    “apparently it’s okay to have a demonstration which disrupts people’s travel plans, provided you don’t hit any police officers”

    Yes thats the general idea. Are you planning on banning it just because, in your view, “her arguments have been listened to but have been found wanting”.

    Obviously if you plan to disrupt MPs travel plans by doing it outside Westminster then different rules apply.

    Subtly different…..I mean aren’t demonstrators in the proximity of Heathrow a security threat?

  11. Maybe you listened to the arguments, but you did not come up with the “right” answer!

    In 2007 there was a demo/”peace camp” near Heathrow where people were camping and generally disrupting business. The BBC reported it in what I must describe as the most slewed piece of poop since the dodgy dossier.

    It was, according to the organisers, a “temporary eco-village”. All the BBC reports of the time were biased. One began:

    “As the tanned, cheerful twenty-somethings set up their tents, you could be forgiven for thinking this was the summer’s latest music festival.”


    The report was later stealth edited ( a favourite tactic with the BBC) to tone down the negative adjectives ascribed to the Police.

    Another report declared:

    “The protesters, most in wet weather gear and many wearing clown wigs, began setting up mobile pop-up tents in the BAA car park under the watchful eye of police in riot helmets bearing plastic shields.

    Dance music and A Spoonful Of Sugar, from the musical Mary Poppins, were played on a bicycle sound system.

    In the newly-arrived crowd were bongo drummers, magicians, jugglers and small children fast asleep in all-terrain buggies. ”


    Tom, I know you get blamed for everything, and I don’t mean it in that way, but in ten years of Government you have failed to deal with bias at the BBC. The two reports I managed to find were pure propaganda; you can read them for yourself. They were certainly edited retrospectively to take out the obvious anti-police message, but clearly some remains.

    Whilst you have an organisation that embraces the liberal left and owes its existence to extortion and the use of threats, another building block of democracy is under threat.

  12. Steve

    The new runway will mean a constant and permanent breach of EU NOx emissions limits, it isn’t about the economy or unemployment, it’s the law.

    Most people agree it would be a good idea, but its just not possible to build it there. This problem has been known about from the very first consultation about airports in the UK, but the government has taken a head-in-the-sand approach, and years later we are left in this messy position.

  13. And another thing..

    It’s ok to charge an Air Passenger Tax, claiming it will go to “green” projects, and then quietly pocket the money to pay for anything you feel like at the time?

    No. Of course, the two things are entirely different. One is designed to raise money for a tax and spend Government, and the other is designed to serve commercial interests.

    So the “green” thing is just a way of getting a bit more revenue, like hiking the taxation on motoring by £650 since Labour got into power?

  14. Barney Waits

    Looks like EU pollution rules will stop it … however, we all know about our relationship with the EU; we grab what we want and refuse to go along with the rest – witness Ms. Smith’s ambiguous statement when told the DNA database contravenes human rights. (So why isn’t Harman up in arms? Selective vision perhaps?)

  15. Harry T

    I use Heathrow about 20-30 times a year (unfortunately) and this month alone I must have circled in a holding pattern at Lambourne for about 9 extra hours over and above the approximate flight times. How that helps anyone with the resultant CO2 emissions and fuel use is beyond me.

    Of course if the 3rd runway is filled to capacity (as it probably will be over time) as opposed to being a measure to alleviate the already overcrowded runways 1 & 2 (thus reducing circling times & CO2) then it’s all academic and we are back to square one.

    Re: the purchase of land, can’t the Government enact a compulsory purchase order?

  16. Jim Baxter

    ‘Just because you feel strongly about something does not necessarily mean that your view must prevail’.

    Unless you’re the government in an elective dictatorship.

  17. Andrew F

    The arrogance – it burns. Your basic point here seems to be: “It’s our decision, not yours, so shut up.”

  18. Blackacre

    Harry T at 2.43pm, the thrid runway is not to alleviate congestion – it is fully intended to be expansionary. It will be up to capacity in days of completion. The heartache and expense does not justify a new runway merely to relieve the existing two.

    Yes, the purchase of a field is a publicity stunt – I am sure they are well aware that they will be bought out, but it gives a good venue to protest from in the intervening period.

    I avoided the environmental argument in my earlier comment as I think that the arguments fail on economic grounds without even getting to the air quality point, but happy for this stupid idea to go away under whatever means possible.

    PS for the record I am not against airports, but Gatwick seems a much better one to target – away from huge centres of population, in the economically vibrant area around London and will good existing connections to London. I also like Boris Island but realise that is unlikely to happen.

  19. Tom – I think the point about buying the field is that they’re going to re-sell it to a few hundred people, and that having to serve compulsory purchase notices on hundreds/thousands of people will slow things up considerably.
    Apparently this sort of thing has worked quite well protecting bits of rainforest…

  20. Matthew C

    Andrew F – I’m not a Labour supporter (quite the opposite), but in this case… they’re the legitimately elected Government and this isn’t an issue where the decision would “change the rules of the game” (unlike the EU Constitution/Treaty).

    So yes, as we live in a representative democracy which enables Governments to sometimes make unpopular choices which they believe are in the national interest, it is their decision. Not ours. If you disagree, the proper way to express this at the ballot box, not through juvenile stunts. There’s no shortage of parties with dissenting views on this issue.

    I could go off on a whole rant here over how, through our efforts to interest the young in politics, we’ve taught them that democracy can only be conducted through a loudspeaker, but I’m not sure this is the time or the place.

  21. Jay

    Tom said,

    “she had been reduced to this kind of protest because no-one was listening to her arguments. Well, perhaps she should consider this: maybe her arguments have been listened to but have been found wanting.”

    Watch out for that ‘maybe’, people – it might actually mean that she wasn’t listened to, at all, like the tobacco retailers in the recent DOH consultation whose submission appears to have been mysteriously ignored, despite the fact that the small matter of their livelihoods are, quite probably, at stake:


    Actually, the article linked to below suggests that the Government has just decided to bypass that tiresome business of consulting the electorate in favour of imposing its will on the QT:


  22. I still fail to see how attracting more transit passengers at the Heathrow Shopping Centre* is “essential for British business”.

    Why can’t we be a bit more visionary in this country rather than just listening to the BA/BAA lobby? Look at how Spain has been able to dramatically reduce domestic air travel with significant investment in high speed rail.

    *Heathrow – brilliant shopping centre, rubbish transport hub.

  23. Auntie Flo'

    Why do you refuse to answer any of the many valid questions I’ve asked regarding airport expansion, Tom?

    Questions such as:

    How can airport expansion be the catalyst of economic growth you claim it to be when, during downturns and recessions, it shows its true colours as a major catalyst of economic decline?

    Around 24% of Heathrow workers were made redundant during the last recession – and the effect on the people and businesses of Heathrow was devastating.

    And why does the government misrepresent aviation as a key, profitiable industry for the UK when a substantial proportion of aviation’s profits are solely the result of massive taxpayer subsidies – aka tax, duty and polluter pays principle exemptions worth many billions every year?

    Why do you and the government brush UK aviation’s balance of trade deficits for UK under the carpet?

    And why should the poorest, many of whom never fly, subsidise the richest 4%, via the tax and duty exemptions of rich frequent flyers, with their taxes?

  24. Auntie Flo'

    On the subject of flying.

    Why haven’t you done a tribute to Patrick Mc Goohan – the Prisoner? I can’t believe Patrick has died. I was madly in love with him. He can’t possibly have been 80.

    Poor beggar, surveillanced whereeer he went, camera’s everywhere. Chased by pilotless spy drones.

    What was it he used to say:

    “I am not a prisoner, I am free man!”

    Then it turned out to be the government what dun it all.

    That series was prophetic. I hope we get a re-run.

  25. More than a re-run, Flo – The Prisoner‘s being remade! And your reference to “the government what dun it all” – well, I couldn’t understand a second of anything that went on in the last episode but I’ll take your word for it.

    McGoohan tribute to follow, incidentally.

  26. Auntie Flo'

    “It was a place that is trying to destroy the individual by every means possible; trying to break his spirit, so that he accepts that he is №6 and will live there happily as №6 for ever after. And this is the one rebel that they cannot break”

    “We’re run by the Pentagon, we’re run by Madison Avenue, we’re run by television, and as long as we accept those things and don’t revolt we’ll have to go along with the stream to the eventual avalanche… As long as we go out and buy stuff, we’re at their mercy. We’re at the mercy of the advertiser and of course there are certain things that we need, but a lot of the stuff that is bought is not needed…
    …We all live in a little Village… Your village may be different from other people’s villages but we are all prisoners.”

    Patrick McGoohan 1977 (Wikipedia)

    Number 1 was the clown: the man in the monkey mask.

    Number 6 was ll of us.

  27. Auntie Flo'

    Last episode.

    Number 6 – John Drake, Danger Man, the British secret agent imprisoned in a surreal village for resigning, as well as being you, me and everyman – having beaten controller Number 2 during the 7 day duel to the death of the penultimate episode. is offered the choice to leave the village or to lead it.

    Number 6, along with the hippy and the butler start an apparent revolution, they pop up with guns all over the place and ‘kill’ the village security/surveillance.

    Number 6 unmasks Number 1 – only to find himself staring back…the first clue that the whole revolution is contrived by the village controllers in yet another bid to break Number 6 and to get him to reveal why he resigned

    The rebels escape, apparently. Number 6 makes it back to his old house – only for the front door to close automatically, just as the doors in the village prison do.

    In other words, it was government security services what dun it all along and Number 6 is still a prisoner

  28. Auntie Flo'

    The ultimate clue, of course, is that McGoohan had studied to become a Catholic priest before he became an actor and conceived the Prisoner.

  29. Auntie Flo'

    “If I could do it again, I would. As long as people feel something, that’s the great thing. It’s when they are walking around not thinking and not feeling, that’s tough. When you get a mob like that, you can turn them into the sort of gang that Hitler had.” (mcGoohan)

    The remake of the Prisoner will, apparently, chart what happens when a quasi-authoritarian surveillance society turns the people of mundane domestic suburbia into that sort of unthinking and unfeeling mob.

  30. Well I liked it ‘cos I love science fiction and I love a good yarn. And the music was cool.

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