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Not did they just run against each other for the Tory leadership in 2005 and disagree on Europe, VAT cuts and their approach to the economic crisis, Cameron’s new found pal, Kenneth ‘big beast’ Clarke, was also responsible for the firing of the current Tory leader in 1993 from his post as special advisor to the Chancellor.

Oh well, desperate times call for desperate measures I guess…

If your own shadow Chancellor cannot take on the government in the middle of a daunting economic crisis I guess bringing into your team the leading critic of your economic policy strategy who fifteen years ago thought you weren’t up to the job just so your party can get a sit on the grown-ups table is sensible enough.

Did anyone really think that Osborne could ever survive a direct confrontation with Brown and Mandelson or even Vince Cable? Afraid not, that’s what Clarke is there for, even if he disagrees with most of what his leader’s actually saying. Such is life…

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As the expansion is given the green light by the DfT I cannot but amaze myself at the colourful coalition of people opposing it: John McDonnell, Boris Johnson, Emma Thompson, Zac Goldsmith…. So I thought that Forgesian Thinking should also add its two pence to the debate. So here we go…

I am supportive on the expansion on three accounts:

– If London is to continue to be a true global ‘meeting point’, Heathrow needs to remain one of the top three world airports. It is essential. If you fly into Amsterdam you are not going to then take a train to London, you’ll do your business there, plus they already speak very good English.

– Building a completely new airport somewhere else, another BBI (Brilliant Boris’ idea), would be very costly, you don’t need just the runway but also a terminal plus other servicing builidings and infrastructure. It also involves creating noise pollution in a completely different new area (I know this point is no consolation to Heathrow residents though).

– From a logistics point of view, it is more efficient to have on hub rather than several of them dispersed, plus less road pollution will be created. This is also true for passengers travelling from and to the airport.

The real issue about climate change is not about stopping Heathrow’s expansion. Heathrow’s flights are generally long distance flights, meaning you either fly or you simply can’t get to your destination. If climate change campaigners would like to make a real difference they should be focusing all their efforts on low-fare airlines and airports. Encouraging high-speed rail so short flights to Europe can be replaced by train journeys.

Heathrow is not an environmental issue but a local residents’ one. That is a fair fight. The spat today between Geoff Hoon and Emma Thompson best illustrates the not very convincing climate change argument.

As Hoon accused her of opposing the expansion while flying around the world as an actress, Thompson replied:

“Get a grip Geoff. This is not a campaign against flying – we’re trying to stop the expansion of Heathrow in the face of climate change.

“It sounds like the transport secretary has completely missed the point. Again.”

I don’t even know what that means. Flying produces climate change, one stops flying,  climate change is reduced, as simple as that. That is the problem with the climate change-base anti-expansion campaign, it’s trying to achieve the squaring of the circle. And Cameron’s Tory leadership is once more at its populist best encouraging the nonsense.

A coalition of green activists has bought the piece of land that was to be the site where the third Heathrow runway was to be built. Oscar winner Emma Thompson, new Tory posterboy Zac Goldsmith and NGOs such as Greenpeace have teamed up to buy the land before the government gave the project the green light.

Smart move if you ask me. Zac Goldsmith, Tory PPC for Richmond Park, has been quick and put out a press release taking pretty much all the credit for the idea…how do you think his rival and fellow campaign organiser Susan Kramer feels about that?

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A clear choice…

My friend Liliane has received today this email from Labour HQ,

Dear Liliane

I’m sure you’ve already seen reports about our employment summit on the news today and I wanted to contact you directly about the unprecedented challenges that this summit is helping to address.

Let’s be clear – we are facing the first crisis of the global age. Countries across the world are taking action to stimulate their economies and provide help to those who need it.

Today’s employment summit gathers employers, trade unions, and the firms and universities who provide the skills that will bring Britain out of the recession quicker and stronger.

Because we are Labour, we will always approach tough economic times not by just monitoring the economic statistics, but by understanding that each statistic represents families, communities and businesses struggling for help.

We can invest millions in people’s future now or pay billions in a future where people are stuck on benefits – real action no w is vital to ensure that those who are out of work now do not become the long term unemployed of the future.

We understand that, by providing real help now, we can emerge from this downturn quicker and stronger. This is why we are: investing £500m to get people back into work; boosting the economy by providing an average of £275 for each family per year through cuts in VAT and £145 in tax cuts for basic rate taxpayers; and helping to create 100,000 additional jobs through our capital investment programme in schools, hospitals, environmental work, infrastructure, and transport.

But while we are rising to challenge of the times, the Conservatives are blinded by the same old ideological blinkers.

We are absolutely determined that we will not repeat the mistakes of previous recessions when, time after time, the Conservatives’ ‘do nothing’ approach allowed rises in unemployment to become permanent and whole generations were written off.

Britain toda y faces a clear choice.

A country in which a Labour government provides real help for families and businesses affected by the downturn – or a ‘do nothing’ Conservative party set on repeating the mistakes of previous recessions by leaving people to fend for themselves.

Best Wishes

Gordon

More and more I think this crisis is helping both Labour and Brown regain its social democratic identity, which can only be a good thing. After the last years of Blair when the ideological anchoring was lost, the party tried to reinvent itself on a permanent basis, losing its raison d’etre, and the ideological battle lines were blurred, Brown is finally being unashamedly Labour and that is getting party activists excited once more about getting the message out to the electorate.

A clear message and strong beliefs on its ideology is what Labour need as the electoral season draws closer

It was no secret that Derek Draper was launching a new site aimed at strengthening Labour’s online army in the war of the blogs. A meeting was organised a few weeks ago by Draper for a bunch of Labour people to hear what Blue State Digital, the online strategy firm behind Obama’s online campaign, had to say about a new Labour online offensive to challenge the current Tory hegemony over the UK political blogosphere.

In principle Draper’s idea is a good one just not too original. As I have blogged before (here), the issue is that the Labour blogosphere already has too many ‘gateways’ and what it really needs is to provide one that really stands out, a Labour ‘ConservativeHome’. We have got Bloggers4Labour, LabourHome and now LabourList, all of them aiming to be a home for the netroots (and this is only after a similar site, Labour Outlook, was closed down). What this achieves it that none of them are ever going to get on their own the levels of traffic that Tim Montgomerie’s site has. If Draper wants to really create a genuine Labour netroot hub he should be talking to these other sites and propose a merger which can create a truly independent gateway. At the time of my previous post on this issue Bloggers4Labour was up for a chat on this, so there could be room for at least a discussion on this.

This is a calendar I won’t be buying anytime soon… though I wonder what other pictures  are in it though.

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