First-class flyer Dame Emma Thompson should stop preaching, says Blunkett

By Nick Lester, Press Association Political Staff

Dame Emma Thompson should stop “preaching” to people about flying less especially when she travels first class, Labour former cabinet minister David Blunkett has said.

Although not naming the actress directly, peers were left in little doubt who was the target of the veteran politician’s jibe.

Lord Blunkett’s intervention at Westminster comes after Dame Emma was accused of hypocrisy for flying from Los Angeles to London to join climate change protests.

Responding to criticism of making the 5,400 mile journey to join Extinction Rebellion (XR) demonstrators in the capital, Dame Emma argued it was “very difficult to do my job without occasionally flying”.

While urging people to fly less, the 60-year-old, whose credits include Sense And Sensibility and Love Actually, pointed out she was in “the very fortunate position” of being able to offset her carbon footprint.

Lord Blunkett took a swipe at the Hollywood actress (David Cheskin/PA)
Lord Blunkett took a swipe at the Hollywood actress (David Cheskin/PA)

Lord Blunkett made his criticism during a question in the Lords on plans for a third runway at Heathrow.

The peer, who heads a skills taskforce linked to the airport’s expansion plans, said: “Does the minister agree that investing in alternative fuel sources for flights in the future would be more beneficial than people who use airlines regularly preaching to other people that they should stop using them to go on holiday or for commercial purposes – particularly when they have the comfort of flying first class?”

Ducking the controversy, Transport Minister Baroness Vere of Norbiton said: “I will comment on sustainable fuels, which is probably wise in the circumstances.

“They are very important; so many people within the aviation sector are making great strides and are doing it as private companies.

“They are not being forced, but are doing it because they know that it is the right thing to do.

“BA is partnering with Velocys to produce sustainable aviation fuel from municipal solid waste – the plant will be in Scunthorpe.

“Virgin is partnering with LanzaTech also to produce sustainable aviation fuel. They have demonstration plants already in the US, Belgium and China.”