PPS Political Blog: Will a yellow Britain fly?

Will a yellow Britain fly?

Published on by Kai Störmer

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The Liberal Democrats have had a hard time these past few years – The 2010 “we are in government” euphoria was quickly replaced with student protests over a rise in tuition fees and the constant feeling of only being David Cameron’s lapdog. During the 2014 Liberal Democrats Party Conference in Glasgow at the beginning of October, a new rift opened within the party. The dividing question: Does the party want to rally around its green affiliates and stop airport expansion in the South or cuddle up with big (and small) business and put its support behind the expansion of a second Gatwick or third Heathrow Airport runway?

Here’s how the media reported on “decision day”:

- On the morning of the Party Conference:

7 October, 08.16 AM, “Lib Dem leadership backs Gatwick expansion”, The Guardian Online

- Less than 12 hours later:

7 October, 3.10PM, “Lib Dems reject leadership bid to U-turn on airport expansion”, BBC News

- The very next morning:

8 October, 1:49AM, “Clegg: Lib Dem policy on airport expansion makes no sense to me”, City Am

So quo vadis Clegg and Co? With the Airports Commission set to make its decision between Gatwick and Heathrow in summer 2015, after the general election, there are two likely scenarios for the Liberal Democrats – If they are part of the next government, again as the “junior partner”, they will have to do another u-turn, once again ignoring a large section of their voters, and go with airport expansion. If they are in opposition, and Nick Clegg’s successor moves the party more to the left to stand firm against expansion, the Liberal Democrats would alienate industry leaders even further (and that’s before a suggested re-introduction of the 50p rate on income tax…) 

Kai Störmer

Kai Störmer about the author…

Kai Störmer is an Account Director at Newgate, having joined in January 2014.

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