Friday, 21 September 2012

Referendum for the airport proposal?

This was something that first surfaced at the beginning of the year. From memory it was at full Council and was voted down by the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and the Independent group by a sound majority. If that had been anything else it would have been dropped right?

Well... no. It's still going on and Councillor Osborne (Lab and PPC for Chatham & Aylesford) is still leading the charge on his proposals though support is gaining.

During my Leave I reaffirmed my opposition to the the referendum. Unfortunately at the time I had not slept properly in weeks, was restricted to 140 Character tweets and at the exact moment was heavily involved in a pitch battle with a 4 week old baby who wouldn't stop crying and a two year old who refused to believe daddy when he says;

You can't open the gate it is locked with a padlock and daddy doesn't have the key... Sophie stop that and- You get the idea.

Basically I could not out line why I think this is a complete waste of time so I thought I would write about it - then forgot - now been reminded by a recent post.


1. In the brief discourse Tris mentioned the AV referendum;

Public opinion was against AV, didn't stop referendum

Fair point.

There are a lot of comparisons that can be drawn between the two referendum;

Firstly its not that popular - yeah sure there's a very vocal support group but if you ask the average chap/ette on the street I'm sure there'd be a general apathy and the ultimate; What's the point? (I'm coming to that later)

The other comparison that a lot of we AV supporters found was that we all agreed with AV, all our friends on Twitter and at political meetings, the papers we read, the people on TV all agreed with AV but the public did not. I propose, and if you really think about it (go on) that it is the same with this one too. There is plenty of noise but from the same people. All the people I've spoken to think it is a waste of time. Like I said in a previous post - deafened by their own noise.

Also, similar to AV, there has been little debate on the subject especially in the local media. The average citizen hasn't really heard the debate from organisations such as DRINK or from Lord Foster etc. Indeed a while ago there was a meeting out on Hoo about the airport and it was a complete white wash of anti- airport propaganda and no one from Foster and Co to defend the project.

Further to that, the local Labour media machine has demonised anyone who thinks that the airport might be a good idea. Happened to me and I'm a no one really (for saying; Also... This hurts to admit this but... If it will benefit the nation as a whole and boost British Business for many decades then... well... can it really be a bad thing), I imagine many Councillors are running scared of even suggesting they like the idea.

How can you have a balanced and fair referendum with an automatic public bias to the idea?

Surely, any independent survey and or Consultation would take that into consideration and dismiss the results?

Especially that the window for such a referendum is shrinking. The proposals were to tack them onto the Police Commissioner's election this November - the clock is ticking and it doesn't look viable.

2. The cynic in me thinks that this is no more than a large stick to beat the Tories with. After all it is about giving people a voice and people like that. Thoughts of practicality go to the wind, there almost inconvenient.

After all, Zach Goldsmith has threatened a bi-election, Heathrow area might get a referendum! Why not here!!!! Booooo- Tories!!!!

Of course if the airport gets built, that's the Tories fault because we didn't get a referendum and if it doesn't then they can claim victory for the over all campaign... win-win

But as I say, that's me being cynical.

3. Ultimately the referendum would mean nothing.

The Government is looking to improve National airport capacity, they will be looking coolly at environmental effects, infrastructure, space, housing etc... Of course local opinion will be taken into it but let us be brutally honest - will it really matter if the Nation's needs are more important.

I cite Spock (see video - about 1:14) and you cannot argue with that logic. The NATIONAL government must make decisions for the many, rather than the few. Any referendum will look NIMBY, especially if debate has not occurred and/or there is a low turn out.

If all potential sites were to return with referendums with a No vote what would you expect the Government to do?

4. There is still no guarantee that a new airport will be built as there are options like maximising current space and ports. There is also no guarantee that there will be one built here, what with all the problems that threaten the island/Hoo environmentally and logistically which are enough to sink the project before you include the lack of political support by the Libdems, Labour and Local Conservatives nor any of the local councils.

A referendum would work out as overkill.

5. Finally, and I do concede a little ground here...

The Referendum/ bi-elections are a one shot weapon. You can only use them once and it is too soon to do that. The Consultation starts next year and as I have illustrated here, and before, there is no need to run about like a wet hen firing of salvo after salvo. It is commonly known that you hold your best hand to last, or your doomsday weapons to the end - you don't drop an H-bomb to capture a bridge.

If a referendum does prove to be the only solution, the last straw or line of defence then let it be. We have time on our side and a huge ball of possibilities to unravel well before talk of a referendum or Bi-election becomes necessary.

Right, that all said, I'm going to put my ear plugs back in and wait for the inevitable return barrage....


  1. You are aware Richmond Lib Dems are backing the idea...

    1. What I mean is, I'm not a Richmond Libdem so am not tied to what they do and don't agree with. Even if it was Medway Libdem policy (which it isn't) I wouldn't agree with it.

      Richmond isn't Medway, Heathrow isn't the estuary. Although they have the same odour they are a different kettle of fish.

      I stand by everything I said here and I'm really not the only one.

  2. I think you have it reasonably well sussed out, and it is in reality a purely party political device to bring up this year. It is obvious from the vote at Council that everyone had reached the same conclusion independently of each other(!)

    As I have written previously on this specific topic: there just possibly might have been merit in holding such a referendum when the specific threat re-appeared some three years ago – but clearly no point now, for the reasons you have already cited (e.g. perception as NIMBYism).

    As far as Richmond (and anyone else in West London) may be concerned: they are indeed looking at this only now that there is at least a perceived possibility that the third runway option for Heathrow might end up on the table after all (it probably won't, by the way). They didn't leave it until they thought it would make a useful party political device from one side or another.

    That's the big clue here: the situations today are markedly different.

  3. Just inconsistent the both of you. JW says Richmond are entitled to a referendum because of the 'perceived possibility' of an airport which is now clearly going to be part of a consultation with the Thames Estuary trio (island / Olsen / Cliffe) so making it at least a possibility.

    With other London borough's likely (watch this space) having referenda prior to an aviation consultation it only reinforces to people locally how you are refusing - dogmatically refusing - to give them a chance to say no

    We all agree we dont want an airport; my point is that our current campaign has totally failed. We simply are not punching our weight which is why time and time again the goal posts slip against us. The LEP report was not positive and the fact Cameron is weak could mean he pushes for the least negative option politically.

    Local Tories need to cease putting the interests of Conservative MPs first and let the public reject this potty London Conservative Party proposal once and for all so that the government gets the message loud and clear.

    The principle behind our referendum is identical to that expressed by the Leader of Richmond Council; we need our voice heard loudly.

  4. I've just spotted the latest comment...

    For the record, my own approach has been entirely consistent from the outset, as anyone is most welcome to check at everywhere I write or have been reported as saying anything on the matter.

    I personally don't believe much in petitions or similar, as I have written on my 'blog quite a while ago now. I am well aware that they are all too often used as purely party political and self-promotional devices by members of some parties – as I have seen with regard to issues that overlap my old ward from adjacent Labour-held wards, for example.

    However, for those who insist on these devices, at least they should be timely, rather than being (and being perceived as) an afterthought. Until Medway Labour properly and credibly explain why they did not propose their 'referendum' regarding the Estuary Airport concept when it first arose, they can have no credibility while they still propose it here and now.

    That much is obvious to anyone!

  5. I would also argue that I have been nothing short of consistent on this - which anyone who has read my blog over the last year would know. I'll say it again just to be 100% consistent:


    My personal belief is, that despite their position in 2010, Heathrow will be the cheapest option and probably the one that will get proposed by the commission. We all know and agree that an estuary airport is riddled with environmental problems as well as infra-structurally. Any Moron who looked at the proposal will see that so it will slide down the lists of probable sites.

    If anything it has been included to be fair as one of the many proposals and the fact that no one has a real concrete idea what to do about aviation policy - hence the review in the first place.

    The campaign has hardly failed as they aren't building the bloody thing and are instead having a review of options.

  6. Some good points there, if slightly intemperately put(!)

    The original Labour proposal for an 'airport at Cliffe' was not going to be subject to review or consideration of alternatives. That was where this whole business really started, and wasn't a threat prior to 2002, despite indications that perhaps one day something might need to be looked at (or it might not) in the general, broad area.

    This review makes it possible to take Labour's old threat away – which had not been a possibility before, and no doubt could have raised its ugly head again in/after 2015 if they were to get back into national government, despite anything they might claim now.

    That's why it *must* be finalised formally, thoroughly and properly, and be ready to be implemented as soon after the 2015 election as possible, before it can be scuppered by Labour if they are then running things.

    Ideally, I'd have preferred a final decision prior to that election; but the real world tends to get in the way of ideals, as I well recall from my many years working in the Civil Service...