Hoon: "£50k and I'll tarmac Sipson for ya!"

Three cheers to Dispatches for catching buff-Hoon shouting his mouth off about how much (or how little) it costs to buy his support. You know you've crossed the line when the Prince of Custard, Peter Mandleson, goes on Newsnight to call you corrupt (I mean talk about pot... kettle).

So how much do we think Hoon charged BAA for pushing through arguably the most controversial bit of infrastructure since, well, the last Heathrow expansion? BAA and Labour operate a revolving door policy, but still, persuading the Cabinet to ignore over 80% of the responses to a consultation you've already tried to rig tends to be costly.

Now that everyone knows that Hoon is as crooked as a thrupenny bit, it's time to go back to the third runway decision and consider it afresh. Sure, we don't know that Hoon took cash from BAA to influence Government policy, but the man's got form. The man's got form.

Transport Select Committee supports Heathrow expansion; film at eleven

We shouldn't really be surprised that the Transport Select Committee has decided that expansion at Heathrow must go ahead. It is, after all, made up of a rag-tag bunch of industry apologists who go out of their way to promote their pet projects.

It counts David Wiltshire, the only local MP to support Heathrow expansion, as one of its members, but he'll be standing down after because he's being investigated for fraud. It's most notable members are a mad Unionist from Northern Ireland who thinks climate change is a republican plot to re-introduce Popery and Graham Stringer, the MP for Manchester Airport.

But never mind their prejudices: let's look at what they say. Their main point seems to be that aviation is getting a hard time. "Aviation" the Committee says, "should be treated equitably in climate change policy - it should not be demonised or assigned symbolic value beyond its true impacts".

I'd agree with that. Aviation is 13% of our climate impact, and instead of making it reduce its emissions, the Government would rather other sectors make bigger cuts. Figures of 90% are being bandied about, and energy is the current favourite to make the reductions. This is a fuel poverty nightmare: poor people suffering rising heating bills to preserve the right of rich people to fly.

The Committee, like most of the Cabinet, already thinks aviation has some symbolic value which must be preserved at all costs. This ideological affection for flying needs to be borught down to earth with a bang. Treating aviation equitably means making it clean up after itself, not forcing the rest of us to subsidise flying and while other sectors pick up the pieces.

No money for Vestas, but Mandelson bails out Airbus

I'm speechless: Mandelson, Prince of Darkness and proud wearer of custard, has just offered Airbus £340 million to keep producing planes. Meanwhile Vestas has closed and 400 hundred green jobs have been lost. Is anyone else getting angry?

I'm finding it quite hard to write anything intelligent or rational about this. I don't want to see 1,200 people who work for Airbus out of work. But I also know that there are hundreds of people on the Isle of Wight who are unemployed because this Government refused to support the only windfarm manufacturer in the UK - and that one of those companies tackles climate change, while the other makes it worse.

Tackling climate change means making tough decisions. Given a choice, this Government and the vested interests it represents will make the wrong decision every time. Mandelson, and everything he represents, has no place in the world we want to build. We need to kick him, and his crony mates, as far from power as we can (and an extra punt for good measure).

While single-issue campaigning is fantastic at exposing a problem, it can't give the systemic critique we so desperately need right now. As hard as we try, Plane Stupid can't do much about the banking sector, labour rights or the theft of resources from the developing world. That's why we need broader campaigns which can show how capitalism and the systems which support make our lives a misery - and help us take action against it.

Conveniently there's loads you can do over the next fortnight if you're as worked up as I am. There's the Climate Camp Cymru this weekend, and the Earth First! Summer Gathering next week, both of which offer workshops, skill-sharing and camp fire chats about how we get out of this mess. Then the Camp for Climate Action kicks off, swooping on a secret location somewhere in the M25 for a very long weekend of naughtiness. Get busy!

Geoff Hoon: an apology

Firstly, a confession. My last post to this site - one of my shortest and least considered - was entirely taken up with gloating about Geoff Hoon's resignation. In my haste I overlooked something rather important. Geoff Hoon was one of the best Secretary of States we've had.

I know it's a radical position, but consider the facts. Hoon entered the Cabinet less than a year ago and made a massive impact. He seized upon Heathrow's expansion and made it his own; fighting Tories, backbenchers, environmentalists and pretty much everyone else to keep the expansion on track. And by doing so, he caused it to derail, spectacularly.

Hoon, you see, was such an unlikeable little shit that he made opposing Heathrow the obvious option. Watching him stagger about the Commons was enough to turn even the staunchest expansionist a deep shade of green. Nothing showed the strength of opposition to the third runway than Hoon having to round up his backbenchers at gunpoint to vote against an opposition resolution.

Look back over the last ten months: a motorway expansion programme left in ruins; airport expansion all but wiped out; every major Government transport initiative collapsing and Hoon's oily fingermarks everywhere. While lesser politicians might have given an inch, Hoon wedged himself into a corner and sat there chewing his own arm off like a rabid dog.

Now the great man is heading to Copenhagen. Environmentalists are scared: this is the climate change denier, they say, who wants to expand airports and tarmac the countryside. But they are wrong: for all his talks of "tree-hugging hoolah" he's obviously a deep ecologist hellbent on exposing the talks as a market-driven folly. After all, this is the man who destroyed any support for neo-Liberal interventionism by dragging us into Iraq. I wouldn't rule anything out now the wild card is in play.

So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye

Geoff Hoon has 'resigned' as Secretary of State for Transport.

Don't let the door hit you in the arse on the way out, Geoff.

David Miliband brings shame on the family

Foreign Secretary David Miliband has asked to get his own private jet. Even when Blair and the royals were refused them last year on environmental grounds, Miliband has the gall to put his perceived needs before all else. Apparently the former Secretary of State for the Environment needs a special plane because... other people have one.

Flying, even in a commercial jet, is one of the worst things you can do in terms of carbon emissions. So for Ministers to demand their own private jet epitomises the lack of understanding, leadership and commitment to environmental issues that we have seen from this government. We can only hope that Ed Miliband, Secretary of State for Climate Change and David’s brother, will give David a good talking to around the family kitchen table.

Not wanting to unfairly berate a public figure, I did some calculations to see what kind of environmental impact this would have. If Miliband took a return flight to Washington he would use approximately 73 tons of CO2. That is over 7 times the average annual emissions for one person living in the UK. Say it again to yourself, slowly. Seven times you or my annual CO2 emissions. On one return flight. Unless Miliband is literally defecating rainforests he won't be able to offsetting these flights.

This comes at a bad time for Government, who just announced that it was unlikely to hit its own emissions reduction target of 12.5 % by 2011-12. No wonder, with officals and Ministers trying to fly everwhere. The Sustainable Development Commission argued that civil servants shouldn't be able to fly domestically or to EU destinations easily reachable by train. I don’t think it even crossed their minds that anyone would be so audacious as to demand a bloody private jet!

Downing Street twitters on about flying

In the dying days of Labour, everyone is out for what they can get. After all, once May 2010 comes around, there will be loads of MPs, researchers and other political low-lifes on the hunt for new jobs, as a new breed of political low-life replaces them. So let the firesale of the last vestiges of Government credibility begin. Witness: Number 10 using Twitter to advertise British Airways.

Those of you who haven't been scouring the web 2.0 multiverse may have missed this little advert-dressed-up-as-a-social-enterprise. BA is giving away 4,000 flights to encourage businesses to fly unnecessarily and sell more crap to each other while charging liquid lunches to their expense accounts. Flights that would otherwise have been replaced by, oh I don't know, a phone call maybe? BA claim this is all about kickstarting the economy, but the facts don't bare that out.

BA has low passenger occupancy rates - 73% last month, against Ryanair's 12 month average of 81% - so over a quarter of seats are empty. That means less people buying duty-free and also gives them a fair few seats they can give away, hence this opportunity for naked self-promotion. BA give away seats that would otherwise have been empty - and thus increase their potential revenue from ancillary duty-free sales - and generate loads of nice media in the process. Hell, I bet they even get to write the seats off against their taxes.

Now corporations will always try this sort of bullshit, but for Government officials to be in on the scam is... well, to be expected frankly. The door between government and hte industry has always been a revolving one, and these spineless cretins are always trying to feather their nests. Doubtless whoever dreamt up this tweet has his (or her, let's pretend that the inner workings of Government isn't entirely a sweaty cockpit) eyes on a job in the industry somewhere?

Government asked to make law breaking illegal

I don't normally indulge in e-democracy, because frankly it's a nonsense, but this is great: some bright spark has decided that the laws against breaking into airports aren't enough. They've asked the Government to ban "groups like Plane Stupid" from protesting within a mile of all airports. I don't fancy their chances much, but what the hell: if you agree with them, then add your name to the 15 people already on it.

Firstly let's be clear: unless you've cajoled two million people into signing up through a mixture of lying, lying and lying some more then your poxy petition will get about 300 people to sign it and Number 10 will just throw it away. The endless rush to get more signatures than the last petition has numbed our already bored-with-democracy leaders, who now have to see millions of people standing outside the House of Commons waving pitchforks and large banners with 'Behead the Bankers' before wondering if they should enact a law (unless its to restrict civil liberties, in which case it takes just one phone call from Scotland Yard to see us all locked up for the better part of a month).

So given that our protests tend to be accountable (we all get nicked) and easy to spot (we're the ones waving banners blocking your taxiway) I can't see this petition turning into a law anytime soon. But that's not what Number 10 petitions are all about. They're an easy way to persuade the population that they're doing something important while ensuring that their efforts come to nothing. E-democracy like this disenfranchises people as much as rigged consultations and rooms full of spin doctors. After all, if Gordon and his mates wanted to hear what we had to say, they'd ask us, not BAA PR gurus.

Custard, not guacamole

I bet Mandy was wishing it was guacamole, but let’s be clear: it was green custard. Now bookies are taking bets as to what the next dessert will be (3:1 on spotted dick). Brown managed to keep the tone nice and light:

"If anybody doubted the greening of Peter Mandelson and his willingness to take the green agenda on his shoulders we've seen it in practice on our television screens already this morning."

Ho ho ho.

Don’t get us wrong, we can see the funny side. Well, actually we were rolling around in hilarity at the pictures. But there’s a serious point here: Mandy met his best mate Roland Rudd several times in the run up to the Heathrow decision. Rudd happens to be BAA’s top lobbyist. So what deals were struck? What happened on that yacht? And why is an unelected stooge of Big Carbon deciding our future?

Hoon 'hooned' in silly stunt

Geoff Hoon woke up yesterday and went out to give a speech to the Royal Society about the many solutions to aviation and climate change. The solution, of course, is to let everyone fly as much as they like, because technology would save us. Technology and the Emissions Trading Scheme, which, as he reminded his audience, is a real and effective cap on aviation emissions in Europe...


The Secretary of State was cut off in mid-flow, as a loud honking noise blared out across the room. Up popped a young woman who apologised for making a racket. She'd rather foolishly forgotten to turn off her lie detector horn, which had picked up on Hoon's rather blatant fibbing. It wouldn't happen again, she promised.

Of course it did; other people in the audience had brought their lie detectors and these kept sounding as Hoon tried to give his speech. If only, he thought to himself, I'd remembered to tell the truth, instead of a bunch of nonsense that sounded good when Flying Matters told it to me. Maybe these silly stunts have a purpose after all...