If’s But’s and U Turns

images (188)Following yesterdays publication of the £20M Howard Davies review of Airport expansion for the UK, focused on the South East we were assailed by a series of surprising comments in the House of Commons and on Radio 4. At Prime Ministers Questions, Harriet Harman appeared to overturn the long term Labour Party opposition to Heathrow by promising the Government support from the opposition to a decision from the Government. Around an hour later, Crawley MP Henry Smith was interviewed on the World at One and argued that although the Prime Minister had previously asserted his opposition to Heathrow, that he was now likely to do a U turn. According to Mr Smith, although Cameron declared his opposition with the phrase “No If’s, No But’s” a mere 5 years ago, that 5 years was an eternity in Politics and there would be no problem in the PM breaking promises he made in the run up to the 2010 General Election. It is far from certain if Mr Smith is correct that his honourable friend is as dishonest as the Labour Party, but we have been promised a decision by the end of the year. It is hard to fathom why experienced politicians such as Henry Smith and Harriet Harman can believe it is acceptable to suggest that long held arguments can be disposed of so quickly, even in the light of a report which has cost so much public money. It is of course good to be decisive, but the Labour front bench has not had time to consult the Parliamentary Labour Party on this matter. The decision on the Airport is one that matters enormously, and it is a strategic matter which places MPs such as Henry Smith who has Gatwick in his constituency in a difficult position. He has made his opposition to the Gatwick expansion clear, just as many members of the Cabinet who have constituencies in Greater London have made their opposition to Heathrow clear. Making decisions on large projects (and even smaller ones) creates all sorts of problems for MPs and Councillors. However the Government cannot be swayed by personal problems of these representatives. The Davies report will test the resolve of some of these people, and based on the knee jerk responses from Henry Smith and Harriet Harman, many of them will fail the test.


About ianchisnall

I have a passion to see public policy made accessible everyone who want to improve the wellbeing of their communities. I am interested in issues related to crime and policing as well as in policies on health services and strategic planning.
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