Plane Stupid demonstration at Stanstead on Monday.
Photo Plane Stupid.
(Click to see original on the Plane Stupid website.)
Monday’s demonstration at Stanstead Airport, to protest against the government’s decision to steam roller the building of a second runway at the airport, left me with something of a dilemma. On the one hand, I am opposed to further airport expansion in Britain and I would like to see a high speed railway network constructed to link up Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, not only with London, but also with Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam and the rest of Europe. On the other hand, I fly from Stanstead to Poland about four times a year. What if I had been one of those stranded on the ground because my flight had been cancelled by the demo?
I read the BBC’s on-line report about the demonstration with interest. As the day progressed this was to go through over 20 different revisions! The earlier versions tried to be balanced and carried an interview with one of the demonstrators as well as a video of the police carrying out arrests and comments from BAA and angry passengers. The later editions dropped the interview with the demonstrator and replaced it with an interview with the Chief Superintendent of the local police.
The BBC ran a ‘Have Your Say‘ comments facility. The comments were highly polarised, although those supporting the demonstration were in the minority, and those who urged that the police should throw the ‘anti terror legislation’ book against the demonstrations, were very much in the majority. The number of comments posted means little, as powerful companies such as BAA employ ‘whisper marketing’ techniques, in effect paying people to post comments critical of their opponents.
As veteran readers of BTWT will know I am very critical of the plans to build a third runway at Heathrow Airport. Gordon Brown has postponed the announcement of his decision till the dust from the Damian Green affair settles. Reliable sources report that he seems determined to force through the expansion plan in the teeth of fierce opposition from half his cabinet, nearly all the residents and all the councils in the effected areas. ‘At least the Stanstead demo’ is firing a warning shot across Gordon’s bows’, I thought as I decided that, even if I had been one of those whose flight had been cancelled, I would have backed the action of the young protesters. So I left a supportive comment on the BBC’s site. This is approximately what I wrote. (I can’t quote it exactly because the BBC censored the comment. ) What do you think? Was what I had written so inflammatory?
Parliamentary democracy in the UK has broken down. Political campaigns and political parties are funded by interest groups who then demand that a policy price is paid for their financial support. Now an MP who opposed the government has been locked up for doing his job.
No one voted to close 2/3 of Britain’s railway network. MPs are not going to be allowed a vote as to whether a third runway is to be built at Heathrow Airport. No wonder some people think that direct action is the only way to make their voices heard.
Do let me know what you think!