James Forsyth

Heathrow hilarity

Heathrow hilarity
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The contortions that Labour and its supporters are going through over the third runway at Heathrow are increasingly comic. The attraction of backing a third runway was all political to Brown central. It hoped that it would show Labour as pro-business, prepared to take the ‘tough decisions’ that the Tories duck and, above all, split the Tories between the greens and the ‘pro-business’ wing.

But this has all blown up in Brown’s face which, perhaps, was why he was reportedly so emotional as he tried to persuade Labour rebels to back the measure. It failed to factor in that those who oppose the third runway do so with such ferocity that it is one of the key things that will determine their vote. Those MPs whose constituents will feel the effect of the extra flights had to vote against it or risk losing a large number of votes, 4 Labour MPs with West London seats did so, contributing to the largest Labour rebellion on an opposition day vote since 1997.  Meanwhile, the Tories have been—at least publicly—united in their opposition.

The first piece of comedy was Martin Linton, who represents the hyper-marginal London seat of Battersea, claiming that he had meant to vote against the runway but gone into the wrong voting lobby. Now, comes a piece on LabourList by Dan McCurry making the implicit argument that the beneficiaries of a third runway not being built would be the BNP. As they say in the trade, you really couldn’t make it up.  

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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