John Stewart, Victory Against All The Odds: The story of how the campaign to stop a third runway at Heathrow was won

IssueSeptember 2011
Review by Patrick Nicholson

The third runway campaign is one of the seminal success stories of recent years. A coalition that encompassed local authorities, direct action groups, local resid-ents associations, and others, took on the entwined might of government and aviation industry and won a famous victory.

This booklet outlines the history of that campaign from its beginnings in 1997 to the decision in 2010 to scrap plans for a third runway. It explains the strategy and tactics that worked, the problems that arose and how they were overcome.

Author John Stewart himself played a very important role in the campaign, drawing on 30 years experience of struggles on environmental and transport issues. Stewart admits that this is a personal account, but to me this seemed a strength rather than a weakness here, since he gives us something far more useful than a bland campaign report which might have sought to paper over differences and overgloss matters with the benefit of hindsight.

Stewart sets out why he believed in certain tactics and approaches, and how he worked to get them implemented. A key example was the idea of “unity of purpose, diversity of tactics” around which the coalition was built and which created the possibility of direct actionistas sitting around a table with Tory council leaders and MPs.

The booklet is a treasury of useful insights for all campaigners and activists. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Topics: Green