Friday, January 16, 2009

A runway for the Tories?

With the Heathrow expansion inflicted upon Parliament, residents and the whole country, has the government made its final case for a Tory win at the next elections?

Yesterday, George Monbiot wrote in the Guardian that this government is "almost enough to make you vote Conservative". Let's just say that Labour are doing a fantastic job at trying. Because if there's any chance of a Labour victory at the next elections, then it'll be based purely and entirely on the electorate's goldfish-like memory.

The government's go-ahead for the third runway at Heathrow is possibly their 126th slap in the face to millions of Labour voters. As it stands, you'd have to be a gold medal winner at the Gullible Olympics to still pay heed to what New Labour routinely puts on pieces of paper. In fact, if they write it down in some document or manifesto, it means they'll do the exact opposite.

Their list of lies and broken promises is just comical. A quick roll of honour would have to include the infamous "no Iraq war without a second UN resolution" as well, of course, the dodgy dossier; the privatisation of air traffic control; "we won't increase tuition fees"; the Ecclestone scandal; the 'ethical' foreing policy and New Labour's record on arms sales; trade union laws and rail nationalisation; the 2000 London mayoral vote and the EU Treaty referendum pledge; the new proposals on bailiffs and the Trident scheme. And the list goes on. With the recent addition of the Heathrow plan and its total mockery of Labour's own carbon emission targets.

Put simply, a Labour voter today is the equivalent of a submissive wife putting up with her loverat of a husband. "Promise me you won't do it again", she begs him. "Sure", nods the serial cheater, and off he sneaks to another marriage-shattering orgy. You trust his words at your peril.

Two days ago in The Guardian, Simon Jenkins explained that the concept of the third runway at Heathrow "essential to the British economy" is just a myth. "It would create thousands of jobs", is the government's argument. But "so would rebuilding Britain's mental health infrastructure, which would thus also be "good for business", argues Jenkins. Not to mention that, in the words of the former BA boss Bob Ayling, an expanded Heathrow would be actually "against Britain's economic interests" and "would only boost airline profits". "A flight of fallacy", as he wrote in The Times back in May last year.

But yesterday's most pathetic spectacle was the speech made by Geoff Hoon the automata, the man who'd sooner die than disagree with his masters. "We will establish a new target to limit aviation emissions in the UK to below 2005 levels by 2050", he said, on-message. He'd done his homework alright. But as Shadow Transport Secretary Teresa Villiers quite rightly put it, at this stage any government environmental promises are "not worth the paper they are written on". She may be a Tory but she was spot on.

The third runway decision was the epitome of New Labour's sheer arrogance, with the contemptuous way the government denied a parliamentary vote in the face of massive opposition from the public. Like John McDonnell MP explained to the BBC, the government violated "the right of MPs to decide the policies of this country". "I was hoping the government would allow us a democratic debate and a vote and do deny it undermines our parliamentary democracy", he said.

With the expansion going ahead, seven hundred homes (the entire village of Sipson) will be raised to the ground, with residents and local businesses "expected to be the subject of compulsory purchase orders as plans proceed to demolish the entire village to make way for the construction". Several constituencies will be affected by noise and pollution, with acres of greenbelt land set to be swallowed up. As you can imagine, the opposition is, simply, massive.

Yet Big Business needs not worry. In the words of George Monbiot, "[it] already knows that when it says "Jump!", Labour will reply "Off which high building?". Ministers need do nothing more to prove what a spineless bunch of snivelling sycophants they are".

And so, back to Monbiot's argument that this government makes you want to vote Tory. Today David Cameron repeated that "his party will scrap the plan if it wins the power", going as far as "warning firms not to invest in building a third runway at Heathrow". Ironically, like with James Purnell's punitive proposals against single mothers, the Conservatives appear as our best hope of stopping New Labour's blunders.

What a sorry ending to the Labour Party.

You can sign the Stop Heathrow Expansion petition on the campaign website.


Unknown said...

Aside from the fact that this is just another example of how the government thinks it can do whatever it wants over our heads - Geoff Hoon's words during McDonnell's protest pretty much amounted to "The Cabinet ARE the people, are the people will do what we say" - the thing which disgusts me most about this is how a supposed left-wing party is so keen to forcibly evict people from their homes in the interests of business.

I'm currently away from the UK for a few months in Cape Town, volunteering in a social project called the District Six Musuem. The project was set up after apartheid in memory of the people of District Six, and of all over South Africa, who were forcibly evicted from their homes on the orders of the apartheid government, and it acts to try and prevent such things happening again. As such we have links to global organisation, because such apartheid-style crimes against human dignity are still being carried out in places like China and Palestine. But I'm appalled to find them happening in my own home. And however much people might want say "Yeah, but it's different in the UK," I personally don't see forcibly evicting people because of money to be any more justifiable than forcibly evicting them because of race.

Thanks for that submissive wife comment by the way. It's comforting to know someone else feels it's an abusive relationship too! ;-)

Anonymous said...

It's a disgrace.
2009 and the New Labour executive offered us a display of 16th century absolutism.
The Heathrow expansion is a matter of public interest. When an entire village is being demolished and when Co2 emissions and noise in a vast area are at stake, the least they can do is allow a Commons vote.

I voted Labour last time round. I was already contemplating deserting them. They can definitely forget it now.

Great article btw.

Madam Miaow said...

I love the headline-grabbing tactic of buying an acre of land right in the middle of the proposed site and selling off parcels across the world in order to tie up the government in legalities for ages. Not sure how this combats compulsory purchase but a lovely cheeky idea.

I'd like to see Sipson twinned with Diego Garcia (or is that a footballer?).

Madam Miaow said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Diego Garcia is a footballer, yes :-).

The way so many people are still ready to stick that cross on the name 'Labour' is something I can't fathom.