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I never thought I'd find myself disagreeing with the Tories so violently over something, but alas this time has come.

Villiers' attempt to formulate a transport policy is a complete joke. She hasn't got the fainest idea about the needs of the people of this country - all she's interested in is getting the sandal-wearing green groups on board. She's clearly not used Heathrow or other UK airports recently - if she had, she'd know that more capacity is chronically needed.

The sooner she's despatched on a plane to foreign parts the better.

"We believe..competition between airport operators"
And what happens when one of these competitive airports does so well it grows and hits its Tory-imposed capacity?

The poorly performing airport will keep getting business anyway as the good airport will be banned from expanding by the Tories.

You can't have competition that stops a successful business from growing, and guarantees a failing one business no matter what it does wrong.


She's clearly not used Heathrow or other UK airports recently - if she had, she'd know that more capacity is chronically needed.

Yes, but you can get capacity by kicking out the transit passengers. They contribute nothing to the UK economy and just clog Heathrow up.

That said I would support a second runway at Gatwick rather than Heathrow.

Green loonery from the party of freedom. The shame! The shame!

I have never been more ashamed of Conservative policies. I once had a lot of respect for Villiers and thought she would defend the rights and needs of British business, the economy and families, but her recent policy announcements seem intent on stifling growth and prosperity and the vision that once made Britain great.

On a seperate note, it is interesting to see that many of those opposed to Heathrow would back Gatwick expansion. Gatwick should, in theory be more controversial to expand, given its current size, status and the huge number of period and listed buildings that would have to be demolished and the more rural setting. Compared to the areas surrounding Heathrow, it is astounding that those usually defending property rights would happily recind for Gatwick. Sounds like NIMBYISM to me.

I am not her greatest fan but I entirely agree with her about Gatwick. A second runway would be an environmental nightmare; the site is in any case ill-adapted for building one; and there is a also a legal agreement between BAA and West Sussex County Council prohiting development before 2019. The sensible solution is the Hong Kong option of building a proper new airport in the Thames Estuary with proper high-speed transport links.

Villiers has to resign or be sacked or thrown in the Thames before she causes any further damage to the party's credibility.

She is way beyond a joke now.

See Iain Dale's post from yesterday: http://iaindale.blogspot.com/2008/12/airports-change-in-tory-policy-is.html

Even this lot have gone a bit quiet of late, probably out of sheer astonishment: http://www.c-fit.org.uk/

I have already fallen out of favour with my local party over this when I refused to play ball with their luddite tendencies. It's bloody ridiculous.

Thank God, just for the PC-sake of having more wimmin round the shadow cabinet table, Dave appointed her. I mean, how on earth could anyone have expected tokenism like that to go wrong, and end up lumbering us with a 5th rate flyweight?

This pronouncement should represent the final nail in Ms. Villier's Shadow Ministerial coffin

She has been utterly at sea with the transport brief since being placed in the role. Lame ideas on rail, mostly rolled over from Chris Grayling, garbage on roads and the role of the Transport Innovation Fund in tackling congestion charging, and completely contradictory on aviation (read Iain Dale' excellent piece on this)

Roll on the New Year and the inevitable reshuffle - cannot come soon enough for the transport/ infrastructure brief

Stephen Hammond looks good for the role - right kind of corporate background to tackle this policy area, and wouldn't mean a newcomer having to walk up the garden path from scratch

This pronouncement should represent the final nail in Ms. Villier's Shadow Ministerial coffin

She has been utterly at sea with the transport brief since being placed in the role. Lame ideas on rail, mostly rolled over from Chris Grayling, garbage on roads and the role of the Transport Innovation Fund in tackling congestion charging, and completely contradictory on aviation (read Iain Dale' excellent piece on this)

Roll on the New Year and the inevitable reshuffle - cannot come soon enough for the transport/ infrastructure brief

Stephen Hammond looks good for the role - right kind of corporate background to tackle this policy area, and wouldn't mean a newcomer having to walk up the garden path from scratch

Raj, I don't think you quite understand the dynamics and economics of how international hub airports work. How would you propose to 'kick out' transfer passengers?

Raj has about as much of a clue about airports policy as Villiers.

Attacking hubs is so stupid it's hard to know where to start ripping apart the argument.

"Villiers has to resign or be sacked or thrown in the Thames before she causes any further damage to the party's credibility.

She is way beyond a joke now." Quote from an Anon poster.
Don't you usually shoot a horse?

Seriously I would LOVE to vote Conservative at the next General Election but this woman and her cohorts are pushing me towards UKIP if anything. I work in an aviation related industry and in the current economic meltdown the last thing we need is the "Party of Industry and Commerce" attacking much needed airport expansion be that at Heathrow or Gatwick.

Villiers has shown her hand as anti-aviation in principle as had she only opposed the planned Third runway at Heathrow, perhaps on specific local issues, but had backed that at Gatwick where many of those objections do not apply, it would have been more reasonable. Is she another one of the Green Entryists in the Conservative Party?

On another part of this website the question of who David Cameron should recommend for Life Peerages is asked. He ought to get rid of Villiers to the House of Lords together with Zac Goldsmith, thus freeing up a relatively safe seat Chipping Barnett and a winnable one, Richmond Park, for more suitable candidates.

How would you propose to 'kick out' transfer passengers?

I presume that would be a job for BAA, as they control who uses the airport. But they could effectively be forced to by the government saying that any further expansion at Heathrow would not be given approval unless transit passengers had been reduced in number to whatever was deemed an "appropriate" level.

To me it is quite fair that if BAA wants to expand Heathrow it must first try to make things more comfortable for people flying directly to/from the UK with far simpler, quicker and cheaper methods. Reducing the numbers of transit passengers, as the Economist has always advocated, is something that must be tried.

Michael McGowan
"..new airport in the Thames Estuary with proper high-speed transport links."

As long as no-one omits the little matter of having a local infrastructure sufficient to accommodate and service the required workforce (inc low-paid grades).

50,000+ people work at Heathrow. Factor up for their families and then the associated local shops, businesses, schools, hospitals
and a remote location that is good as regards noise disturbance looks less practical in terms of running it.

this woman and her cohorts are pushing me towards UKIP if anything

How does voting UKIP help? It's no more than a protest vote - you know that, we all know that. If you want to say that you would prefer to stay at home and not vote at all, fine. But if you vote for UKIP you might as well vote Labour.

In this case I'm going to be a selfish g*t and say I agree with this statement, I live in Sussex, although not under the flightpath every once in a while due to wind direction or something or another you get the odd moronic pilot who's in the wrong place at the wrong time and its bloody annoying as you get the sound of a plane going overheard in the early morning or late at night.

Why we can't have airports placed nearish the coasts in ways that they are out of built up regions but connected to the major cities with high speed rail. We have the technology? But it comes down to will and cost I guess. It's a pity that during the boom time so little proper infrastructure work was done.

Also I think you'll find that Gatwick is surrounded by firmly Conservative voting areas who would be rather annoyed with another runaway increasing noise and pollution.

Theresa Villiers is a brave and true conservative. ConHome's poll shows she has the backing of party members. The comboxes are unrepresentative full of libertarian trolls and seedy lobbyists.

TVplus is talking out of their proverbial rear end.

The conhome poll was a loaded question.

All those supporting 'Boris Island' need to remember that Villiers is opposed to that too. She is opposed to everything and is quite proud of the fact that family holidays will become substantially more expensive as a direct result of her policies.

She needs to go, Brazier needs to go, and even a pair of chimps could do better.

Whilst it may be legitimate to question the effectiveness of front bench spokespeople, I find the villification of Villiers a complete misreading of the Party's stance on aviation.

There is no way that on such a key element of Party policy, Ms Villiers would be freelancing. The Party's position has clearly been signed off at the highest level: Cameron and Osborne know that this is a key electoral issue in consituencies they need to win.

They'll leave it to Labour to waste votes on this one...

No Gatwick extension, no Heathrow extension. Only rail expansion to the North. What price Boris Island? It's the way they tell'em.

Ok, anon, you think you know better than the Economist do you?

If anyone wants to tell me why reducing transit passenger numbers is so bad for the UK economy, please let me know why the Economist is so wrong on this. It has had plenty of articles on this - they should be easy to find.

Anon @ 11.17am

As a director of c-fit, I can assure you that we are continuing to work tirelessly to change Conservative policy towards airports and international travel.

Needless to say, c-fit believes that Ms Villiers' attitude towards this issue is in no way representative of the majority of Conservative Party members. For her to rule out any airport expansion in the south-east is, at best, tremendously naive.

C-fit would encourage everyone with an interest in this area to sign up to the mailing list via the website www.c-fit.org.uk


Theresa has proved that not everyone has been hoodwinked by the very well funded marketing teams of the pro-airports lobby.
No expansion of airport capacity is required for the economy of the South East. What we need is an air industry whose aim is to shift planes to where they need to be rather than trap passengers in expensive shopping malls.
Environmentally and economically this is the right policy.
Some of the arguments here could be used to justify reintroducing asbestos as a building material.

We should cut back air travel by banning all MEP's visiting Europe for starters.

We should also bring back sailing ships along with hanging from the yard arm for Labour MP's, and keep the present runways for Tories and holiday makers.

That should sort it out.

Wow the "special" views of some people here is just an exercise in how to be as opaque in reasoning as is humanly possible.

"I Leik airplanes, rawr, no exapansion!!111 wut wtfomggtfo, I'll vote UKIP then you w*nkers"

Raj, just because the Economist says something doesn't mean it's gospel.

The basic argument, without getting bogged down in way too much detail for a comment, is that Heathrow is the first port of call for many passengers travelling from the States or the Far East to Europe or onwards to other further-off destinations. Because of this, airlines put more flights on to destinations directly from Heathrow. If you actively stop Heathrow acting as a hub, there will be less demand for those flights, and the number of destinations served will reduce, therefore, any replacement hub airport will be more attractive to business as basing your business within reach of a hub makes international travel more accessible.

If, for example, I wanted to travel to Seattle. At present, Heathrow to Seattle is a route purely supported by transit passengers. If Heathrow were not a hub, the route would not exist and I would have to travel via Frankfurt or Amsterdam which would increase travelling time and probably cost. It would also, ironically, increase aviation emissions.

On another aviation topic on conhome (as this seems to be the only area of transport policy that Villiers recognises so it comes up very regularly), someone pointed out the investment opportunities of basing a business in Detroit. Not because it's a great city compared to New York, Chicago opr LA, but because Detroit's hub airport serves pretty much every destination in North America as Skyteam (NWA, KLM etc) use it as one of two stateside hubs (along with Minneapolis St Paul).

Many readers on here will have flown via Detroit or MSP but never ventured outside the airport, but it is quite obvious that being a major international hub has huge advantages, although these are not as obvious as bashing the aviation industry and being anti-family holiday purely to score brownie points with a load of eco-loons.


I can assure you that I have no interest in "hoodwinking" anyone. I believe, on the basis of the facts of the argument, that there is a compelling argument in favour of airport expansion in the south-east.

I also believe that, while many fellow Conservatives and conservatives agree with me, these views are in no way reflected in the Shadow Cabinet. It is for these reasons that c-fit was born.

Please base your argument in fact, rather than throwing around casual statements about the sinister "very well funded marketing teams of the pro-airports lobby".


This is a debate where my own personal view is very much that of being able to see both sides! HOWEVER - there is a very great strength of feeling in my own neck of the woods of West London against Heathrow Expansion and I daresay the good people of Crawley and that part of the world feel the same way about Gatwick!
This is not about appealing to the "sandal-wearers" but about addressing people's concerns. Don't forget there are a few seats around Heathrow we would like to prise out of the clutches of the Little Orange Peril!
Maybe it is time to think seriously about Boris Island?


Boris island is an interesting concept, but while it remains undefined, it is a hard project to evaluate. I'd love to see a thorough evaluation of the costs and benefits of such a project, as compared to expanding existing airports.

Politically, you're right that it is a difficult sell against the "orange peril". However, I feel that the votes lost by appearing hostile to the average family holiday are at greater risk.


Same old Conservative Party in this thread.Money and business before people and the environment. Ms Villers is right and more power to her. She is in tune with ordinary people who live around airports who don`t want there lives devastated by more expansion.


So your argument seems to boil down to damn the people who live within 20 miles of airports as long as the price is right? Nice sentiment you have there.

Boris Island is a distraction.

It took 50 years for all the anti-transport and NIMBY interest groups to be overcome and for the £10bn Crossrail project to get the go ahead (see 2 year deliberations of Crossrail Select Committee).

And look at the ongoing depressing protractions over the Thames Gateway bridge (whilst regeneration opportunities in Dartford and Grays continue to be unutilised).

How much longer then to get things happening for Boris Island? Green groups will launch countless judicial reviews on behalf of homeless salmon and confused starlings. That's a 20 year timescale at least.

We need more air capacity NOW. So serve the national interest, upset some of the barbour jacket brigade in Surrey and build a second runway at Gatwick.

Its time this country stop fannying around on transport projects, rolled its sleeves up and got on with the job that needs to be done.

And on those who complain that their annual summer barbeque will be spoiled by noisy aircraft, leaving aside the lower noise levels ommitted by new fleet, I'm reminded of the French attitude to these matters:

"When you're draining the swamp, do you ask the frogs for their opinion?"

No idea who the Stalinist cretin called Ron Pickle is but I doubt whether he/she has to endure the daily noise and filth from aircraft screaming in and out of Gatwick at rooftop level.

Boris Island is only a "distraction" for those who have already decided, for their own selfish reasons, that they can't be bothered to think about.


Go lurk somewhere else or at least get out your basement as it seems to be making you sound like a tw*t, that or you already are one.

YMT thank you for your valued and well reasoned contributions to this thread.

You spice your commentary on aviation policy with a mixture of historical precedent, thoughtful insight and witty rebuttal.

Oh sorry, just read them again. You don't.

Oh well, now you're on your school holidays you might like to spend the evening compiling and sharing with us your own views on why the UK doesn't need any more air capacity for the next 30 years.

We're all ears.

Raj, just because the Economist says something doesn't mean it's gospel.

Have you even bothered to read WHAT the Economist has said about this? I never said "it's the Economist", I said the Economist has discussed this many times and has lots of articles you can read.

it is quite obvious that being a major international hub has huge advantages

If transit passengers don't go to the shops at the airport, don't stop off to visit the local area and buy stuff there but DO clog up the airport, please explain what the advantages are.

And no one is saying that you cannot have ANY transit passengers. The argument is that there should be fewer people travelling THROUGH Heathrow rather than to or from the UK.

Well we need more capacity now so maybe heathrow can go mixed mode whilst Boris island is built which can then operate with standard planes, ekranoplanes and airships.

Also noticed something else you said

someone pointed out the investment opportunities of basing a business in Detroit

So if the Economist isn't gospel, how is "someone"?

But even if they're right, does that mean the UK will suffer by having less transit passengers even when taking into account the EXTRA CAPACITY it would create? Which companies are based in the UK purely because of Heathrow's current hub nature and would leave as soon as any amount of transit passenger freight were cut?

For heavens sake you could hardly call Ms Villiers invisible , right wing and not that hardworking ! Unlike the pointless types as seen in previous shadow cabinets she does not fall into that negative category and comes across well on TV and puts in the required effort and is advancing a policy that makes us look like a 'Green Party ' which in turn will win votes & seats from the Liberals.

My opinion of her has improved a great deal and David Cameron ought to merge the Environment & Transport briefs and hand them to Theresa Villiers as a promotion to prove that our transport policy is green ! As John Redwood proved in Singing The Blues a conservative transport policy is green - by definition . If she implemented his ideas on transport & the environment in office Britain would benefit greatly.

Theresa Villiers deserves promotion along those lines as she has been very capable indeed while Mr Ainsworth is just too invisible ! Her mission should be to show how being green can help the economy (i.e. less oil usage makes our economy less at risk from oil price surges and less dependent on Iran & Russia et al ).

In the same spirit Michael Gove talks much sense on education while David Willets just has disappeared from view. The University & Skills brief should be merged with Schools & Children so that Mr Gove is Shadow Education & Employment Secretary so that he can highlight Labour's educational failings while using his great brain to wow the voters with our Tory solutions . Mr Gove like Miss Villiers deserves promotion as it would benefit the Tories to see them both get more responsibility. Mr Gove would be just as good at training & university policy as he has been at fashioning schools reform plans - why not give this genius a chance ?

Willetts & Ainsworth have had enough chances - time to streamline the Shadow Cabinet and reward success rather than tolerating mediocrity !

This country needs a new runway somewhere - we cannot object to Heathrow, Gatwick AND Stansted. Boris' Island is a complete non starter because these three, and Luton, are already operating whilst it would take years to start.
PS Just to make sure that I am thinking logically, I read Troll-Stone's posts and confirm that I believe the exact opposite. Three years ago, the DD leadership campaign blog branded him a LibDem troll.

I thought the Times leader today put the case for a Gatwick second runway well.

Heathrow is in the wrong place for landing into the prevailing westerly wind, and adversely effects the most people.

Stansted is a relative backwater.

A new Thames Estuary airport has its points but would be very expensive, somewhat far away from London and generally inconvenient for most of England and Wales.

Gatwick, which only sports a single main runway, seems the best option for expansion.

Fascinating thread. Even more fascinating is the complete lack of reality shown by a small handful of those who have commented.

Theresa Villiers is against ALL expansion. Some on here seem to make out that she is open minded on a Thames Estuary airport when she has categorically stated that she is opposed.

To be anti-Heathrow/Gatwick/Stansted expansion but pro-Boris Island is as much against party policy as being pro-Heathrow expansion.

Once those people are taken out, a handful seem to praise Theresa Villiers for defending residents. Right, two points to consider are 1. that 95% of those residents may have had a small inkling that there was a major airport nearby and 2. that the cost of flights, holidays and business travel will rise substantially as a direct result of government dithering and Conservative opposition to everything.

Make no mistake about it, a Conservative government will add around £300 on a family holiday in airport fees alone, never mind the 112.5% increase in air tax (not opposed by the Conservatives). If we are happy for Labour to make the most of that as a party then fine!

As for one comment maker and his anti-hub arguments. The investment advantages of being able to get to places quickly and cheaply are obvious. This is a very weird argument and while there are plenty of arguments that I would disagree with over expansion, saying that hub airports are purely there for the benefit of Toblerone shareholders is shockingly simplistic to say the least.

I'm with Ron Pickle on this and for those who consider that voting for UKIP is a wasted vote I would say this.

I live in Reading West, a marginal seat that the Tories NEED to win. Now its Labour MP, Martin Salter, is heading up a backbench Labour revolt on the Third Runway at Heathrow, so I won't be voting for him! I have asked in a letter to the local paper what are the views of Alok Sharma the Conservative PPC on this matter but so far have had no reply so I will write directly to him. It will depend on his reply how I vote at the General Election. If he takes a similar stance to Villiers and Salter then he will NOT get my vote. Now in a marginal seat such as Reading North if would be Tory Voters who work in Aviation and associated industries do not vote Tory but for example for UKIP then seats such as this will not change hands. UKIP may not win any seats, indeed they will be lucky to hold Bob Spinks' seat in Castle Point, but can do considerable damage to Tory hopes especially as on many issues they still support Traditional Tory values ditched by Cameron and they have rejected with scorn all the trendy "Green" nonsense.

As to adopting an anti-Heathrow Expansion stance in a cynical attempt to win some of the Liberal held seats in South West London I would expect such a ploy from Labour who sold their soul under Blair to get into office at any price, but not from the Conservatives.

It would do some Tory PPCs well, before jumping on the bandwagon hauled by Villiers, to remember that Aviation and Airport workers have votes too, especially in some of the key marginals such a Crawley, and they are unlikely to support a Candidate who threatens their livelihood.

Why is opposing a second runway at Gatwick threatening anyone's livelihood? Villiers is not suggesting that Gatwick should be closed. Indeed it will get significantly busier with its single runway.

The economic "forecasts" on the basis of which the Government has proposed airport expansion are highly dubious. Villiers has many faults but her detractors often represent vested interests in the airline industry who are now scratching around for "evidence" with which to shore up their plans to inflict environmental blight on most of the South-east. Ron Pickle's comments about those who live around Gatwick are worthy of the town planners of Chernobyl.

Boris island would be Political suicide for the party. I can tell you if it went ahead you would lose seats here that haven`t been Labour in years.
Boris seems to have forgot as well that there is a sunken world war two ship not that far from his proposed island.This as a thousand ton of TNT on it and if it went up would cause terrible damage to coastal properties.
Does Boris really want to take the risk of that happening? Is he really as big a buffon as most people think he is.
Superglue. People who support David Davis would think anyone to the left of Hitler was a raving communist so I am not surprised by your comments.

Most people don't think Boris is a buffoon Jack. For someone who does not like personal abuse you make an awful lot of personal attacks and they are ALWAYS on Conservatives.

"Most people don't think Boris is a buffoon Jack."

Or even a "buffon"!

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