Heathrow and the election

Has anything changed?

Before the catastrophe in Kensington, I was idly mulling something that seems utterly trivial now. But – gazetted before the thought disappears – here it is: have the politics of the third runway at Heathrow have changed in the past week or so?

Here is a map showing local seats, coloured by who holds them now and in 2015. Dark colours mean safer seats. The blue dot is the airport.

This map gives you the picture of the election just gone: the blues are fainter and reds are deeper. And that matters.

The issue is simple: we know there is a lot of opposition to Heathrow expansion locally. Zac Goldsmith, now back in Richmond Park (seat 4), triggered a by-election in protest at the move.

It’s also the case that the Tories are, in a sense, less exposed to Heathrow than they were. They no longer hold Twickenham (marked with a 3) or Surbiton, the neighbouring Lib Dem seat.

But the remaining local Tories might now be a lot more jittery – and they’re rather high profile. Boris Johnson now has just a 5,000 vote margin in Uxbridge and South Ruislip (1) and Justine Greening has a third of that in Putney (2).

That matters because Labour might calculate that they can cause cabinet trouble – or cost ministers their seats – by vigorously opposing the expansion. That is not a hard sell to Labour’s leadership. John McDonnell’s seat contains the airport.

For good or ill, the political case for Labour causing trouble on runway 3 might have got a bit stronger.