Hit or Miss? Back Heathrow "grassroots" campaign attempts to gather public support for the airport's expansion

Back Heathrow joined the debate on airport capacity, describing itself as a grassroots campaign to defend jobs that rely on the airport.

Plane speaking: Heathrow campaigning group under scrutiny (Picture credit: Getty Images)
Plane speaking: Heathrow campaigning group under scrutiny (Picture credit: Getty Images)

It was accused by local residents of biasing its survey questions in favour of the airport’s expansion and by MP John McDonnell of being "a con" funded by Heathrow. Campaign co-ordinator Rob Gray retorted that he had disclosed the funding from launch and called on the MP to apologise. Gray also claimed to have received more than 10,000 positive survey responses after four weeks. 

How I see it

Paul Wheeler, corporate affairs director, Kellogg’s UK

Let’s separate the campaign from the controversy for a moment.

Should there be a platform that allows people with an interest in the future of the airport to express their views? Yes. After all, Mayor Boris has had plenty to say on Heathrow, so why shouldn’t people who actually earn their livings from it also have some airtime?

In my view, Back Heathrow has fallen foul of an aversion to corporate-backed issue campaigns. After all, we’d think nothing of charities coming together to lobby on something, so why do we have a problem when it’s a business that does it?

Heathrow Airport wants to survive, so it should be perfectly acceptable for it to fund a campaign to achieve that end.

As to those critics who say Back Heathrow is presenting a one-sided view, I’d say: who’s ever heard of a two-sided lobbying campaign? Whether it’s too little, too late is another debate.

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