what used to be is never gone

The Heaving Strangler has a beef with the existence of the BBC’s Web site. Of course, the main point here appears to be naked self-interest, especially as their actual proposals seem to involve forming a joint Rothermere-Lebedev-Murdoch cartel, a sort of Unholy Alliance.

But here’s the interesting bit; I remember the Tories whining about the existence of news.bbc.co.uk back in 2002 or thereabouts, mostly through oafish MP John Whittingdale. It’s a case of what I think I will call The Maplin Effect.

Three or four political generations of Tories have fantasy-engineered a giant airport located somewhere in the Thames Estuary, near enough to Maplin Sands, without ever achieving anything, for reasons which vary widely – as a monster, technocratic economic development project of the kind they usually claim to oppose, in order to spare their West London constituents aircraft noise, or as a safe option to look like they oppose Heathrow expansion without running the risk of actually stopping it.

However, the entire idea was invented out of whole cloth in 1969 by a Tory squire who was trying to win a planning row near his seat in Bedfordshire, and gained further momentum because his construction firm stood to win huge contracts if it should actually go ahead. The nonexistent airport in Bedfordshire was successfully destroyed by another nonexistent airport; a neat trick.

This is where it gets interesting. The Maplin talking point, rather than dying with the argument it was created to win, loosened itself from its purpose and sank into the fertile, tangled kelp banks of the Tory id, there to stir against all kinds of other political baggage. Every so often, when there is sufficient emotional strain on to release the pre-conscious censorship…whoops, airport!

Of course, you can surely fill in all the others yourself. And, if you try hard, you can perhaps start to notice some of your own Maplins.


  1. 1 fake sheikhs « Alternate Seat of TYR

    […] we get quite a few “whoops, airport” moments: here’s one. I have to say, appealing to “sheikhs” as the answer to […]

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