SNP, which won just 1.45 million votes in the election, says it will decide the vote on a SE runway
The SNP have 56 MPs, and each was only voted by an average of about 23,000 voters, which is a much smaller number than even Conservative MPs, and massively less than LibDems, UKIP or the Greens. Nevertheless. Nicola Sturgeon says the SNP will decide on whether a runway is built at Heathrow or Gatwick (they are not wise enough to appreciate no runway is needed). The SNP transport spokesman Drew Hendry said the party was “neutral” between Heathrow and Gatwick, while earlier it had been thought they favoured Heathrow. The SNP will “negotiate” with both airports, to see which gives them a better deal and they will vote for whichever gives Scottish people the cheapest flights, and “guaranteed connections with international flights” which Scotland has not been able to provide for itself. The SNP is aware that people in England, especially those to be adversely affected (or evicted from their homes) by a runway did not get the chance to vote for or against the SNP. The runway is largely an English matter. But Zac Goldsmith warned SNP MPs would be “crossing the line in terms of our democracy” if a deal is struck for cheaper flights for Scottish travellers in return for votes. (Combined anti-Heathrow party votes of LibDems, UKIP and Greens were 7.45 million. SNP votes were 1.45 million).
Nicola Sturgeon: Decision over third Heathrow runway will be decided by SNP vote
Nicola Sturgeon today blew the battle between Heathrow and Gatwick wide open by saying her 56 MPs at Westminster will vote for the airport that gives a better deal for Scots.
In an exclusive interview with the Standard, SNP transport spokesman Drew Hendry declared the party was “neutral” between a third runway at Heathrow and a second at Gatwick.
The SNP would decide which airport to back after hearing how each would answer Scottish demands for cheaper ticket prices and guaranteed connections with international flights.
“That does not mean we do not care about environmental issues or the effect it would have on people locally,” he said. “Whatever decision must be made in the most balanced way.
“But my primary job is to represent the people of Scotland.”
The prospect of Scottish MPs acting as kingmakers on a decision affecting millions of resident and businesses in the South-East is bound to infuriate some Londoners, but Mr Hendry said Scottish interests were also at stake.
It will dismay bosses at Heathrow who thought the SNP’s support for a third runway was guaranteed.
Heathrow lobbyists have been pressing for a free vote at Westminster to settle the matter, in the belief that Scottish and Northern Irish MPs would automatically back them on the basis of better connections offered by the UK’s hub airport.
But Mr Hendry said he would be negotiating with both airports and with the Government on behalf of Scots. “We are absolutely neutral at the moment,” he said. “The Airports Commission report has given Heathrow the nod but it specifically did not rule out Gatwick either.” Setting out Scottish demands he said: “The key thing for us is that for too long Scotland has done pretty badly in terms of maintaining routes from regional airports, particularly Inverness and even Aberdeen.”
Ticket prices were routinely higher for Scots going abroad via London, he said: “The first thing we will be looking for is a fair deal in terms of onward flights. It is costing Scottish consumers much more per head. Onward connections are much more expensive — the prices are ridiculous.”
Asked if his stance should alarm west London residents worried about noise and air quality, he said: “We share common purpose. We want to make sure we get the best overall solution.”
The SNP did not want people to “suffer undue noise” and was concerned about keeping the country’s carbon footprint as low as possible.
But Zac Goldsmith, Conservative MP for Richmond Park and frontrunner to be his party’s mayoral candidate, warned SNP MPs would be “crossing the line in terms of our democracy” if a deal is struck for cheaper flights for Scottish travellers in return for votes.
Mark Field, Tory MP for the Cities of London and Westminster, argued that the SNP should abstain on a Westminster vote on locating a new runway in the South-East.
Number of votes and number of MPs
The SNP obtained 1,454,436 votes at the May 2015 general election and they have 56 MPs.
The LibDems obtained 2,415,862 votes and they have 8 MPs.
UKIP obtained 3,881,099 votes and they have 1 MP.
The Greens obtained 1,157,613 votes and they have 1 MP.
Neither the LibDems, UKIP nor the Greens want a Heathrow runway. They had between them 7,454,574 votes. (By contrast, the SNP has 1,454,436 votes.)
And the SNP says it will be the deciding party in a vote on a runway??
Number of votes per MP
Just 25,970 voters on average elected each SNP MP.
Compared to 3.8 million voters for one UKIP MP.
And 1.1 million voters for one Green MP.
32,900 voters per English Conservative MP.
349,000 voters per Lib Dem MP.
and so on.
Comment by an AirportWatch member:
Always assuming the outcome would be decided by a free vote in the Commons which I have already read is highly unlikely particularly in view of Tory divisions over the issue of airport expansion.
The SNP’s former position was for expansion at Scottish airports;
“Meanwhile, the Scottish government has said the focus should be on the continued development of direct long haul services to and from Scotland and the north of England.
Air Passenger Duty
Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond argues that will require major changes to the way Air Passenger Duty (APD) is levied.
The aviation industry says reducing or abolishing APD would strengthen the business case for new international routes from Scotland.
Mr Salmond said: “We’re actually inhibited by the concentration of international flights at Heathrow, where they can’t cope because of huge congestion problems.
“It would be far better to have an effective devolution of Air Passenger Duty which would allow us to attract more direct international flights into Scotland and, indeed, the north of England.”
(BBC News 12/11/2014)