At least I am not half the politician Stephen Pound is.
I have just got home from College Question Time at Ealing, Hammersmith & West London College. LibDem councillor Jon Ball was there along with Ealing North MP Stephen Pound (Labour) and me to answer questions from about 30 students. We covered the ground you might expect us to including Heathrow, the banking crisis, the VAT rate cut, the Iraq war and Gaza.
Early on in the Heathrow debate I challenged Pound as to why he had abstained on the 3rd runway debate in Parliament on 28th January rather than resign his junior ministerial post as the two other local MPs had done. Rather than just fess up Pound took the line that there had never been a vote on the 3rd runway in the House of Commons and that the Tory motion I was referring to was so watered down because of “splits” in the Tory party is wasn’t worth voting either way so he abstained. I think Pound was taking his audience for fools. Read the motion for yourself:
That this House urges the Government to rethink its plans for a third runway at Heathrow Airport and to give full consideration to alternative solutions; regrets the Governmentâ€™s heavy reliance on data supplied by BAA in assessing the case for expansion and notes the likely forthcoming break-up of BAAâ€™s ownership of three of Londonâ€™s airports following the investigation by the Competition Commission; believes that the consultation paper Adding Capacity at Heathrow Airport was deeply flawed, as it paid insufficient regard to the costs of air and noise pollution in the surrounding areas and the commitment to curb carbon dioxide emissions to tackle climate change; regrets the fact that provisions to improve high-speed rail lines from Heathrow to major cities have not been fully explored, along with the potential of other UK airports to handle more long-haul flights; and urges the Government to initiate a consultation on a new national planning policy statement on the theme of airports and high-speed rail.
Pound claimed not to know why his colleagues had resigned and voted for this opposition motion.
Luckily I got the chance to have a second pop at Pound and asked him how he would vote when a 3rd runway vote did come up. His response was that he would make his mind up at the time and to divulge his opinion now would be an insult to Parliament. More like an insult to his audience.
I just can’t get my head around this kind of dissimulation so I figure if that is what it takes to be a politician count me out.