Geoff Hoon, you are an imbecile. You are a wart-brained fool. Yes, sure, you are also an arrogant, smug, repulsive human being – but, above all – you are a fool.
Here's the aforementioned Hoon (UK transport secretary) responding to actress Emma Thompson's criticism of the proposed Heathrow expansion:
"BAA do not wake up in the morning and think 'we need a bigger airport' and airlines do not say 'we need to put on more flights' unless there is a demand for it. So the point is about not just Emma Thompson, but lots of people. If someone living in LA says he did not think it was a good idea to expand Heathrow, well the last time I looked the only way to get from LA to Britain is Heathrow."
Idiotic and specious. Anyone with even the remotest understanding of economics (not to mention political leadership) realises that's not the way it works. If you are a leader and, under your policies, people have an economic incentive to act in a certain way, you look like a turd-brained dolt when you start alleging hypocrisy.
Because it makes it very clear that you are a shirker whose idea of a political let-out clause is the balance of supply and demand that your own sodding government's policies have propagated.
By criticising Thompson, Hoon looks weak and patronising. He also looks (not unusually) like an unpleasant, slimy bastard.
... But it is his broader point about demand that makes him look like a blinkered cretin.
Do you suppose that, in pre-abolition America, there wasn't a demand for slaves, Mr Hoon? Do you suppose that people didn't advance arguments against abolition on the grounds that, 'the last time they looked' (sarcastic wanker), slave labour was the only way to run a plantation?
Or let's imagine a scenario, shall we? Set up two roads leading to the same destination. On the road that is already quicker to travel, set up a series of petrol stations offering subsidised fuel, add a couple of extra lanes to increase its capacity for traffic, kowtow to the people who built and maintain it, make sure it is clearly and massively signposted, highlighted in green on every map. Do absolutely nothing, meanwhile, to improve the other road or create meaningful incentives to use it – except for occasionally telling people that, hey, they really ought to use that second road sometimes.
Then sit back and use the amount of traffic you observe on each road to draw conclusions about demand – and from that to justify further investment in the first road? As if that demand were somehow totally unrelated to the conditions you'd created?
You are a politician, Hoon. Perhaps the Intellectual Hooligan is old-fashioned in extrapolating from this that you are meant to be a leader. And, to be honest, this isn't just about Hoon; it's about Brown, and all his backpedalling, cowardly ilk as they squat with trembling legs and loosen their bladders in the face of the almighty rolled-up newspaper of what they argue to be 'public demand'.
A young child will demand anything it thinks it can get. A good parent knows this – and knows that it is only by setting an example, establishing firm boundaries and explaining these patiently that he/she will not only bring up a happy child, but will also earn that child's respect.