Heathrow Runway 3 - A Declaration of War?
The Government announcement of their backing for a third runway at Heathrow entails the destruction of one village and the encirclement of another, a massive increase in pollution and further congestion and over-development of the South East of England at the expense of the rest of Britain, amongst other things. It also signals the final nail in the coffin of any claimed "green credentials" for the New Labour government.
The figleafs of claimed increases in aircraft efficiency and new limits on pollution and noise are an easily seen through propaganda exercise - two minutes thought tells us that if you improve emissions by a certain percentage, but then increase number of flights by that percentage or more you are not getting an overall gain! (This appears to be lost on Transport Minister Hoon - he of the Iraq War and "45 Minutes" - Hoon must surely go. What exactly does this right-wing militarist ex-public school boy have in common with the largely working class people of Ashfield in Notts anyway?) And do they really expect us to believe that Heathrow would shut and jobs be lost if it is not allowed to grow indefinitely? Is this really the future of the British economy, a cheap sevice bay for the International jet-set as they pass through, ceaselessy wandering the globe in search of profit - an economy that does not produce anything (food or manufactures) significant, but just services the global rich - a kind of National "Upstairs Downstairs" future?
The insult of the decision was combined with the arrogance and anti-democratic display over denying a debate on the issue (though hopefully the opposition can bring about a debate in Parliament). John McDonnell, one of the few remaining Labour MPs worthy of respect was quite right to be outraged - and one can sympathize with his symbolic wielding of the mace that has led to his Parliamentary suspension.
This anti-democratic behaviour by the Govenment over Heathrow was telegraphed long ago with the passing of the new planning laws meant to steamroller opposition and delays to projects that the government and their big business pals see as strategic. The legislation obviously had three or four main targets, all of which are potentially environmentally and socially disastrous - airport expansion, (chucking away carbon targets), a massive wave of incinerator building (effectively capping recycling and reuse and tying local government into an antiquated waste strategy for a quarter of a century), new nuclear build (dodging the waste question and again throwing more good millions of pounds away on a dangerous, strategically vulnerable and dubious "techno-fix") new road building (see carbon targets!) and new coal power stations with ridiculous promises of carbon capture "readiness" (i.e. without carbon capture).
However, the silver lining to all this is a change in the zeitgeist to a more united and militant opposition - we must all stand with the people of Sipson, Harmondsworth and Harlington. The resistance at Heathrow can spread out and become emblematic of resistance to the plans of new Labour and their Capitalist pals for a whole range of anti-social and ecocapitalist projects (i.e. projects which use the environmental crises as an excuse for further profiteering and which dodge the question of accumulation and the insatiability of Capital being the root of all the problems)
We need to see links built between community and environmental and workplace activists all over the country and the demand for a just and worker-led transition to a lower carbon economy raised to counter the "British jobs for British workers" crypto-fascist rhetoric that is beginning to be deployed by New Labour and their corporatist Gauleiters at the top of some unions and local government.
Some blogging comment below -
Derek reports on a Labour defection.
Jim reports the McDonnell protest at Westminster.
And more from Septic Isle at Obsolete