Hoon Gets No Latitude

Labour minister Geoff Hoon’s decision to expand Heathrow airport hasn’t gone down well with Festival Republic chief Melvin Benn, who has banned the transport secretary from Latitude Festival.

Hoon, who has previously served the government as leader of the House of Commons, minister of state for Europe and secretary of state for defense, has attended all three stagings of the Suffolk event.

“Every year since we started Latitude, Geoff Hoon has been seen striding across the fields in his shorts to the puzzled amazement of our slightly younger crowd,” Benn told the Guardian.

“But as we get a reputation as one of the greenest festivals on the circuit, it would be a bit strange to sell a ticket to a chap who’s just authorised a climate-wrecking new runway at Heathrow and who apparently thinks climate change is ‘tree-hugging hoolah,’” Benn added.

“Of course, if he reverses on the runway and starts implementing low carbon transport solutions, he’ll get a free ticket for life.”

The 25,000-capacity three-dayer near the Suffolk coast at Southwold isn’t far from Hoon’s seaside home. He usually turns up accompanied by family members and his personal security team.

Benn’s ban has become frustrating for direct action campaign Plane Stupid, which had been planning to give the gaffe-prone minister a rousing welcome to Latitude 2009.

“We had been planning to blast his tent with aircraft noise at 4 a.m., fill his boots with floodwater from Tewkesbury and leave a chart of U.K. carbon emissions in his sleeping bag,” a Plane Stupid spokesman told the paper.

Hoon, who has become a target for millions of environmentalists, became transport secretary after former incumbent Ruth Kelly resigned during last year’s Labour Party Conference.

He admits to being “not very politically correct” and his forthright views have earned him the nickname “Buff” (buffoon).

Following a 2003 ministry of defense admission that Britain had dropped 50 airborne cluster munitions in the south of Iraq and left behind up to 800 unexploded “bomblets,” a BBC Radio 4 interviewer suggested that an Iraqi mother of a killed child would not thank the British army.

“One day they might,” was Hoon’s reply.