Saturday, January 10, 2009

Will Hilary Benn Resign over Heathrow?


The decision on a third runway at Heathrow could mark a watershed moment for the government. All the indications are that they will give it the go-ahead. Although the runway does not need primary legislation (at least, I don't think it does), it is interesting to speculate what would happen in a Commons vote. There are at least fifty Labour MPs who would rebel, wiping out the government's majority. The key thing would be how many Tory MPs would rebel against their stance opposing a third runway. I suspect there would be quite a few.

Perhaps the bigger question is whether there might be resignations from the government over this decision. It's difficult to see how Climate Change Minister Ed Miliband could defend it, but he won't go. The one Minister I can see resigning is Hilary Benn, who has already made his position very clear. He knows he's likely to be dropped at the next reshuffle, so he might as well go out with a bang.

19 comments:

Forlornehope said...

This is symbolism that has nothing to do with climate change. Aviation will be a "last resort" user of fossil fuel and an early user of sustainable bio-fuel. The real challenge is to move to a more electric ecomomy based on nuclear and renewable generation. This will have the added advantage of stuffing the Russians, Saudis and Iranians; not a bad side effect.

Pogo said...

This will have the added advantage of stuffing the Russians, Saudis and Iranians; not a bad side effect.

Not a side effect so much as the only really noticeable effect.

Still not a bad idea though.

John said...

I actually saw you on Sky News last night (couldn't sleep).

One question immediatly came to mind, what the hell was up with that tie Iain? :D

I agreed with much of what you said btw, but the tie was still awful! ;)

Annabel Herriott said...

John ! Iain holds the monopoly for awful ties. Didnt you know that?? In fact some of his ties are soo awful, they have become national treasures, so by definition, positively AMAZING!

Dick the Prick said...

Forlorne - why not coal? It's cheaper, more efficient, uses local goods and labour, won't have much NIMBY'ism, costs are known, quicker to build, able to be decommissioned immediately, poses no target for nutters, can accept technological advances for carbon capture as they come about, may be greener as raw materials don't travel far, etc etc.

Seriously, i'm not being flippant.

Considering coal stations are going up all over the world, we're still gonna be affected by global warming so coal, being cheap and taxed would allow investment in flood defences, better drainage, R&D etc.

Finland's next generation nukes are over 2 years behind schedule and very expensive. Sure, build nukes, but in the meantime, why not coal?

strapworld said...

Iain, Nobody resigns these days. Be they Conservative Party Chairmen under investigation for a set of circumstances in which you or I would have been charged and sent before the beak! But for a Labour Minister to resign. Sorry!

I think I read that Hoon has said the decision is his and he, alone, will take it. So being the democrat that he is, and one that listens to the people. He will rubber stamp the YES box!


Dick the Prick. I think airlines would find it quite difficult to fuel their planes with coal. Where would they store it? Who would stoke the fires? what if the fires went out? But it would be a lifesaver for our coal industry.

FLY COAL!

Dick the Prick said...

Strapworld - ah, ya little scamp.

It could be coke!

Not a sheep said...

Ed Miliband has the backbone of a jelly fish, he'll stay. Ed Miliband also makes David Miiband look like a human being and that is scary

Cato said...

Hilary Benn will not resign.

Curmudgeon said...

I certainly don't oppose aviation expansion, but this is the wrong runway in the wrong place.

Unfortunately most of its opponents seem to be the kind of folk who think international travel should be done in sailing ships, if at all,.

The Half-Blood Welshman said...

It would be a pity if Hilary Benn resigned. He may not have pulled up any trees - OK, so that might be a minor advantage in an Environment Sec! - but equally neither has he had any cataclysmic disasters on his watch. Even that early FMD outbreak, which wasn't his fault, was handled perfectly competently. When you consider the walking fiascos that are Balls, Denham, Smith, Darling, Hoon, Cooper and Brown...it would be a shame if one of the few remotely competent ministers left were to quit the government

The real tragedy is that he's in the wrong job - you can see him as a perfect Foreign Secretary (smooth, polished, charming, but not possessed of the drive or imagination to push through administrative and legislative change). Why oh why did Brown not leave Miliband (who has drive and imagination but is about as diplomatic as the great George Brown) at Environment and give Benn the big job? Surely it can't be because he saw Benn as a rival. Maybe it's just because he's no judgement at all.

trevorsden said...

As curmudgeon says, wrong airport wrong runway wrong time. Wrong motive. And its nothing to do with idiot notions of climate change either.
Heathrow is a disaster now - it does not need to be made a bigger one. We need to put right our useless airport policy now whilst there is still time.

The pathetic notion that Spelman has done anything 'wrong' is risible.

It may not be a bad thing to sack the entire house of commons but if Spelman is at fault in some way they would all have to go.

"The real challenge is to move to a more electric economy based on nuclear and renewable generation."

Renewable? Burning wood is renewable and probably more sensible than wind power 'renewables'.
I read today that most of the wind farms are not working at the moment, at just the time they are needed.

Coal - I suspect you will find most of our coal is in geologically foul locations. It will be awesomely difficult to extract. Expensive!

John Backhouse said...

No principles in that family so, no.

Tachybaptus said...

Strapworld: 'I think airlines would find it quite difficult to fuel their planes with coal.'

Difficult, perhaps not impossible if you were prepared to go back to propellers and a maximum speed of less than 300 knots. The original diesel engine of Rudolf Diesel ran on powdered coal, and worked perfectly well. And yes, there has been a diesel-powered aeroplane, the dreaded Stuka.

Bill Quango MP said...

Tachybaptus said...
i think you mean the JU 86 medium bomber had diesel engines not the JU 87 STUKA Dive bomber.

The JU86 was a complete failure.

Tachybaptus said...

Bill Quango: thanks, I double checked and you are right. And another famously disastrous diesel powered craft was the R101 -- it didn't help that the diesels had originally been designed for railway engines, where weight is an advantage.

Though I still think you probably *could* build a more or less adequate coal-diesel powered aircraft, with modern technology.

Horshamite said...

The Half-Blood Welshman is right. Hilary Benn is competent and a thoroughly decent guy, head and shoulders above most of his fellow ministers.

Rush-is-Right said...

Iain, why do you illustrate this item with the eyes of Dr. Eckleburg from The Great Gatsby?

Lola said...

I hope he doesn't resign - his eyebrow elevations give my family and myself the best laugh of the week. Just hit the mute button and enjoy