Theresa “crazy cat lady” May, aka Baldrick, has given the go ahead for expansion of Heathrow for a variety of reasons. For starters she’s shown herself to be a zen master of the dead cat manoeuvre. And with brexit, she’s got good reason to start tossing around dead moggies.
Take the recent announcement regarding Nissan. Sounds like good news, until you read between the lines and realise that the government has guaranteed Nissan business rates the same as if they were part of the single market. That could be 10-25% of the price per car, which is a significant potential subsidy for the government to be doling out to a car company say £5k per car, about a 100,000 of them per year, you do that maths!). And this on the back of the Hinkley C contract, which will give a 68% subsidy per MWh it generates. In short Theresa May has taken the UK economy back to the 70’s with the state propping up industries. Except these aren’t publicly owned or even British firms, but privately owned foreign multinationals. The tabloids who seem to think this is a good idea, would they be singing her praises if it was a bank or a hedge fund? Noting they will likely be the next lot looking for some compo.
Also it this is almost certainly illegal under EU competition rules. Okay, we’re leaving so what? Well because you need to understand why those rules exist. Its to stop EU states engaging in beggar thy neighbour protectionism. They also want to avoid any rows, via the WTO, with other trading block who will challenge such policies and might impose punitive tariff’s on EU or UK goods. So Theresa May has just guaranteed she’ll get into a trade war with the US and Germans at some future date. In short, May appears to have succeeded in combining all the worse elements of labour governments of the 1970’s, with the worst elements of Thatcherism.
But I digress, what about Heathrow? Well its the biggest, smelliest dead moggie of them all. Given that expansion of Heathrow will impact on so many marginal constituencies, both through the physical demolition of towns, but also aircraft noise, most previous governments have avoided the issue like the plague. This is the sort of decision that could easily cost any government the next election. Even May herself could be vulnerable. However, she has something of a trump card – Corbyn. His policies are sufficiently unpopular in those very Greater London marginals that she can take the hit from Heathrow and still expect to win the next election. So I hope those who voted for him a few weeks ago, realise what they were signing up for….when in a few years time you’re being kept awake by late night flights!
And Corbyn’s pro-brexit stance doesn’t exactly help his situation. London voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU. Some of the constituencies affected by Heathrow expansion voted by as much as 70% in favour of remain. Among left leaning voters (the sort he needs the support of to win the next election) the figure rises to 90%. Now while I suspect the lib dems are wrong to be running in Zack Goldsmith’s by-election on an anti-brexit platform alone, because no election is ever decided by a single issue (of course the same applies to Zack Goldsmith). But it is certainly (along side Heathrow) a major election issue. And labour now has little to no chance of winning this by-election, nor any other elections in the Greater London area. Its not beyond reason that Corbyn himself could lose his seat at the next election.
However, Theresa May might well have just executed a double dead cat manoeuvre, what I suspect we’ll later come to call, the Heathrow double flip. She knows that announcing this will be like waving a red flag in front of a bull with Corbyn (or should that be a flat bread in front of a Vegan). He always has been more of a protest leader than a party leader. Him and his sandal wearing friends will now dash off to go protest against Heathrow expansion. And while he’s off organising sit-ins and teach-ins or petitions, the Tories can get on with the important business of dismantling workers rights and setting the NHS up for eventual privatisation.