Wednesday, October 28, 2020
Home News Mark Ellse: Theresa May risks some straight talking about Heathrow

Mark Ellse: Theresa May risks some straight talking about Heathrow

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In a parallel but more honest world, a prime minister is giving this speech…

But I know I know there’s another big question people want me to answer. They want to know whether I am going to speak like most other politicians and fob them off with platitudes and soft soap, or whether I will be honest with the British people and tackle what is necessary to make this country secure and prosperous, not only for this generation but also for our children and their children.

Though I completely disagree with the Leader of the Opposition – I find Mr Corbyn’s views foolish, naive and frightening – I can understand why many young people are attracted. He is not someone who thinks he can get away with uttering meaningless sentences, promising everything to everybody and, in the end, delivering nothing. Here is a politician who actually says what he thinks and clearly intends to do what he says.
People want a government that is honest and effective, a government that will tell the truth even when to do so is difficult, a government that will take the right decisions for the future, not merely for short term party advantage.

That is why we have decided to go ahead with Heathrow expansion. Of course, as Boris Johnson says, it will increase pollution and noise levels. Are the British people stupid? Do they think that we can have prosperity without pollution? Of course not! Life is not perfect. We cannot have airport expansion without consequences. We have to make hard choices. We need Heathrow because our economy needs the money it will earn.

Now the Conservative Government could make a bid for the floating voters in the constituencies most affected by Heathrow. I understand why MPs in the area want to signal their opposition. But after everything has been said, we have a straight choice between poverty and pollution. Those who live near Heathrow understand this better than anyone else. A majority of those affected by the noise and pollution would rather put up with them than have a quiet environment and an empty pay packet. It is, I am afraid, as simple as that.

This government will face other difficult decisions with equal honesty. I cannot offer tax cuts and promise the same level of welfare benefits while the government is spending more than it earns. That just leaves our children a mess to clear up and means that we have to kowtow to countries like Saudi and China, whose human rights concern us.

The government will deliver a massive increase in NHS spending but I cannot promise that it will solve every problem. Our budget is limited and the honest truth is that our health service cannot offer everything to everybody.

We face an acute housing shortage that can only be solved by government allowing housebuilding in areas where such schemes are too often opposed by the local Conservative MP. The price of making housing affordable for our children is allowing much more housebuilding everywhere. This government will not shirk its responsibility in taking such hard decisions.

The vote in June showed that people did not trust their elected Prime Minister. My job now is to be a Prime Minister that people will trust.

(Image: Ed Webster)

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Mark Ellse
Mark Ellse is a physicist and author. He is a former headmaster, independent school inspector and A level chief examiner.

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