Morning Call: pick of the comment

The ten must-read pieces from this morning's papers

1. Campbell may be a true believer, but Iraq has poisoned our faith in politics (Guardian)

The corrosive sense of powerlessness felt by the public today was born in the spin doctor's dossier, says Jonathan Freedland. We need a reckoning, although the gentle questioning at the Chilcot inquiry implies that we might not find it there.

2. I am haunted by the Dodgy Dossier (Times)

Ibrahim al-Marashi, whose PhD was lifted from the internet to justify the Iraq war, describes his experience and his regrets after Alastair Campbell's appearance at the Chilcot inquiry yesterday.

3. It will take more than Chilcot to nail Campbell (Independent)

Matthew Norman argues that Campbell was perfect as the warm-up man for Tony Blair, trotting out his lines with ease despite the odd show of nerves.

4. Campbell on the stand: fascinating signs that the inquiry wasn't buying it (Telegraph)

Andrew Gilligan (who branded the dossier "sexed-up") says that the Chilcot panel met the former Chief Persuader's evidence with noticeably more scepticism than it has shown towards any other witness.

5. The most brazen disdain for democracy in modern times (Guardian)

Bumper banker bonuses are back. And what is it, really, asks Simon Jenkins, if not grand-scale theft . . . from treasuries, customers and taxpayers?

6. Why Obama must take on Wall Street (Financial Times)

Robert Reich at the FT agrees that things must not continue as they are -- it has been more than a year since hell broke loose on Wall Street and, remarkably, almost nothing has been done to prevent all hell from breaking loose again.

7. The same old row. But with one big difference (Times)

This Labour split is not about style or strategy, but about spending cuts, says Daniel Finkelstein, looking back at past public battles on the subject. And this time Gordon Brown is on the wrong side.

8. Enjoy the cheap money while it lasts (Indepedent)

Hamish McRae explores the troubling possibility that rising interest rates will choke off the recovery.

9. Welcome judgment on stop-and-search (Guardian)

Henry Porter says that the ruling by the European Court of Human Rights against the use of Section 44 stop-and-search powers is hugely important for civil liberties in the UK.

10. Google's drive to put books online needs a wider debate (Financial Times)

The underlying issues of intellectual property and how copyright should be interpreted in a technological context are too important for the current US court case, which focuses narrowly on competing economic interests, says John Kay.

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The government needs more on airports than just Chris Grayling's hunch

This disastrous plan to expand Heathrow will fail, vows Tom Brake. 

I ought to stop being surprised by Theresa May’s decision making. After all, in her short time as Prime Minister she has made a series of terrible decisions. First, we had Chief Buffoon, Boris Johnson appointed as Foreign Secretary to represent the United Kingdom around the world. Then May, announced full steam ahead with the most extreme version of Brexit, causing mass economic uncertainty before we’ve even begun negotiations with the EU. And now we have the announcement that expansion of Heathrow Airport, in the form of a third runway, will go ahead: a colossally expensive, environmentally disastrous, and ill-advised decision.

In the House of Commons on Tuesday, I asked Transport Secretary Chris Grayling why the government is “disregarding widespread hostility and bulldozing through a third runway, which will inflict crippling noise, significant climate change effects, health-damaging air pollution and catastrophic congestion on a million Londoners.” His response was nothing more than “because we don’t believe it’s going to do those things.”

I find this astonishing. It appears that the government is proceeding with a multi-billion pound project with Grayling’s beliefs as evidence. Why does the government believe that a country of our size should focus on one major airport in an already overcrowded South East? Germany has multiple major airports, Spain three, the French, Italians, and Japanese have at least two. And I find it astonishing that the government is paying such little heed to our legal and moral environmental obligations.

One of my first acts as an MP nineteen years ago was to set out the Liberal Democrat opposition to the expansion of Heathrow or any airport in southeast England. The United Kingdom has a huge imbalance between the London and the South East, and the rest of the country. This imbalance is a serious issue which our government must get to work remedying. Unfortunately, the expansion of Heathrow does just the opposite - it further concentrates government spending and private investment on this overcrowded corner of the country.

Transport for London estimates that to make the necessary upgrades to transport links around Heathrow will be £10-£20 billion pounds. Heathrow airport is reportedly willing to pay only £1billion of those costs. Without upgrades to the Tube and rail links, the impact on London’s already clogged roads will be substantial. Any diversion of investment from improving TfL’s wider network to lines serving Heathrow would be catastrophic for the capital. And it will not be welcomed by Londoners who already face a daily ordeal of crowded tubes and traffic-delayed buses. In the unlikely event that the government agrees to fund this shortfall, this would be salt in the wound for the South-West, the North, and other parts of the country already deprived of funding for improved rail and road links.

Increased congestion in the capital will not only raise the collective blood pressure of Londoners, but will have severe detrimental effects on our already dire levels of air pollution. During each of the last ten years, air pollution levels have been breached at multiple sites around Heathrow. While a large proportion of this air pollution is caused by surface transport serving Heathrow, a third more planes arriving and departing adds yet more particulates to the air. Even without expansion, it is imperative that we work out how to clean this toxic air. Barrelling ahead without doing so is irresponsible, doing nothing but harm our planet and shorten the lives of those living in west London.

We need an innovative, forward-looking strategy. We need to make transferring to a train to Cardiff after a flight from Dubai as straightforward and simple as transferring to another flight is now. We need to invest in better rail links so travelling by train to the centre of Glasgow or Edinburgh is quicker than flying. Expanding Heathrow means missing our climate change targets is a certainty; it makes life a misery for those who live around the airport and it diverts precious Government spending from other more worthy projects.

The Prime Minister would be wise to heed her own advice to the 2008 government and “recognise widespread hostility to Heathrow expansion.” The decision to build a third runway at Heathrow is the wrong one and if she refuses to U-turn she will soon discover the true extent of the opposition to these plans.

Tom Brake is the Liberal Democrat MP for Carshalton & Wallington.