Heathrow or Tory?

Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Dr. Jon Stanley


Zac Goldsmith is now a dandy in the wilderness, this by-election will ground him for good.

I know very little about airports. I don’t use them all too often but I do know we need them, lots of them, and that they are the classical example of a concentrated penalty for a distributed benefit.

That is, we love them more when we're not living near them. 

I do know something about A&E though. As a medic, I've seen them close over the years for a mix of reasons. Sometimes consolidation is needed, at other times large populations are left stranded far from essential services. Two have closed in west London since 2014, at Central Middlesex and at Hammersmith. Charing Cross should hold on through sheer necessity and lack of capacity. 

If I were a MP, a local MP for local people, shutting two A&Es would nark me far more than building a new runway. Even if I didn't want Heathrow expanded I would not have watched the Hammer get hammered by "service redesign" and then resign over a third runway that won't even start before the next General Election, assuming it will be in 2020. Those A&E closures started two years ago.

Shall we mention maternity cuts at Ealing? Dare we suggest that maybe, just maybe, with London's population soaring we probably need that unit open and find savings elsewhere? No choice in the NHS is easy, but Goldsmith's silence on these is deafening. Maybe that's because the beautiful ones in West London can always go private for their care, maybe he just didn't care at all.

Only one MP has been elected in recent times on a single issue...of merit...and was Richard Taylor in 2005. He fought as an independent to reopen Kidderminster A&E. His campaign never left the runway. It is surprising for some that single issue single handed campaigns, romantic as they are, just don't work. If people want Heathrow stopped they need a party to do this and a credible plan too. They need someone to build a coalition to force this new plan through. If Goldsmith couldn't manage this inside the governing party he has no hope at all as a dandy in the political wilderness. He'd impact London politics as much as his brother law Imran has managed in Lahore. Nice guy, knows his cricket, but no cigar.

"Don't build stuff, it's nasty," is the Liberal Democrat approach to Heathrow. Managed decline is what some would call that. The Greens would rather we sailed the Atlantic in powered bioferries to save the world and Labour blew its 13 years to sort out London's aviation when they were in a far saner place than now. All we got from them was air passenger duty and air traffic control privatized. Cheers Tony.

The next MP for Richmond Park will be a Tory darling who will back Heathrow's expansion, or instead, an upstart more in the image of Zac Goldsmith's father than the little prince in office today. Vote Tory or Stop Expanding Heathrow. I'm Tory and like many living north of the border I've already won. I'm going to get a better airport or at least a much better MP keeping Parliament fresh with debate.

For those in Richmond Park it's a tougher choice and they'll have to choose soon. Continuity Zac is not an option for anyone.

Dr. Jon Stanley is Health Research Fellow at the Bow Group, a Junior Doctor and a Member of the Royal College of Surgeons