Wednesday, 19 June 2013

The Wrong Battlefield

This is a rare venture for me on this 'blog nowadays into a local political issue, but is important enough to warrant my doing so...

I continue to cringe every time I read a tweet or similar utterance from those who claim to be fighting against an estuary (or similar) hub airport, yet whose main output seems to comprise messages about a bird they have just seen on the marshes and an entreatment "let's keep it that way".

When a battle is being waged against decision-makers who therefore have control of the arena on which that conflict will be contested, it is no good going off to a different place that suits your own cosy preferences: it has to be tackled on their terms and in their chosen place.

Those who have not grown up sufficiently to understand this (very basic) truth are probably doing doing more harm than good, feeding easy 'ammo' to those who would accuse us here of NIMBYism and the like. It is axiomatic that the decision makers care not one jot about what birds might be spotted by enthusiasts on the site of a proposed new airport. Indeed, they will care not a billionth of a percent about that.

Take it from someone who has been in both central and local government, on all sides of the counter in various combinations (professional, elected, customer) and with considerable insight into how and why things work and a consequent hugely successful track record in campaigning on various issues.

It really is time that those who continue, even today (I have noticed), to post such messages to either grow up and learn the proper way to fight this campaign, or get out of the way of those who do understand and stop being an embarrassment and, in the final analysis, a hindrance.

Personally, I'd prefer the former: it would be the better option – but, as the low attendance at one of their events in my old ward several years ago clearly demonstrated, no-one outside the immediate affected area is likely to be all that interested even in something just a few miles away.

The sighting of specific bird breeds is going to be of absolutely zero interest to at least 99% of Britain's citizens, whereas air travel convenience and all that goes with it will be vastly more appealing. The only way to tackle this is to get our brains functioning beyond the infant school level, so let's all do that from now on, shall we?

This can definitely be won (and I have done a few things of my own, quietly, behind the scenes, to help ensure such a result) so we really don't need any more giveaways to the pro-airport camps, whether local like the completely wrong-headed DRINK or further afield.

I am as determined as anyone can be that the nonsensical idea of a new hub airport around these parts be killed off as an idea completely this time – and I started on this path over a decade ago. Where was DRINK then, one might ask? This time, let's not only get it right, without giving away ground to those who oppose us, but make it effectively permanent, as the current study will at last achieve.

To do so, we all have to be on the right battlefield, otherwise they'll invade us with their runways and islands, because we were too concerned with our own agendas rather than applying ourselves intelligently to the real task.

For a start, I expect to read no more tweets or similar about how spotting a bird or three is the primary argument in this business. If those posting such things really don't have anything more useful to contribute, perhaps they should just cease such communications until after the decision has been taken...

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