Who would have guessed that the fiercest infighting provoked by David Cameron’s cabinet reshuffle would have been about Heathrow airport?
Both the Tories and the Lib Dems opposed plans to build a third runway before the 2010 election. But Cameron demoted anti-expansion transport secretary Justine Greening, raising the spectre of a U-turn.
Now London mayor Boris Johnson and west London MPs are preparing to go to war against a third runway. MP Tim Yeo has asked if Cameron is “a man or mouse” for not overriding their opposition.
Johnson and the others know that the noise and pollution of yet more flights to Heathrow would provoke a furious backlash in key constituencies. They’d rather see an outlandish “Boris Island” with four or more runways in the Thames estuary.
As Arctic sea ice levels crash, our politicians are rowing over which side of London would be best for a massive expansion of carbon emissions.
This isn’t about finding a better way to move people around the world. It’s the ridiculous result of market-driven competition with other “hub” airports in Europe.
Trying to launch a grand project to drive “growth” is a recognition that austerity has failed. But even if it worked, this kind of “Plan B” would only boost profits for the bosses at the expense of the planet.