I suspect anti Hs2 campaigners began today with such high hopes. After all, today was going to be THEIR day. First off would be a ‘damning’ (as they love to call anything even slightly critical) report by the House of Lords Economic Activity Committee into Hs2. Then, whilst Hs2 & its supporters were reeling from this blow to the solar plexus, Cheryl Gillan & the massed ranks of anti Hs2 MPs would deliver a knock-out punch in their Parliamentary debate.
Needless to say, it didn’t quite work out that way…
The HoL report is a poor piece of work that’s full of holes & omissions. Although it’s had some media attention it hasn’t had the wall to wall coverage the antis were hoping for & it certainly hasn’t changed the minds of anyone in power.
But worse was to come. The Gillan debate was truly, deeply, awful! Only a handful of the 41 MPs who voted against Hs2 even bothered to turn up. It was the usual suspects (Gillan, Fabricant, Dobson etc) and – more tellingly – not a single, solitary new MP opposed Hs2. Even UKIPs two rebadged ex-Tory MPs didn’t bother. Mind you, both of them support Hs2, which leaves UKIP in a bit of a quandry!
The anti MPs trotted out the same tired & trite arguments that they’ve rehearsed so well & that have failed them for so long. The only new line was Kelvin Hopkins MP trying to introduce the ridiculous claim that Hs2 will really cost £138bn (a lie exposed here).
They didn’t land a single punch, never mind a knockout…
When they’d run out of steam, Shadow Transport Secretary Lilian Greenwood MP stood up. Without fuss she calmly & methodically put the case for Hs2 & left them in no doubt that Labour remain fully behind the project. When she’d finished, Transport Secretary Robert Goodwill did exactly the same thing for the coalition. He reiterated all the main points for the project, demonstrating that the Government are both unmoved & unruffled by the antis last ditch attempt to alter minds before the election.
To add to the antis woes today has been a busy & eventful news day and – yet again, they’ve been upstaged by Jeremy Clarkson!
Meanwhile, at the same time The London Infrastructure Summit was going ahead. Delegates were asked if they thought Hs2 would go ahead under the next Government. Their answer?
The truth about this debate is it was only really ever about one thing: Realpolotik. In other words, a handful of MPs showing a minority of their constituents who oppose Hs2 that they’re doing the ‘right thing’ by them in order to keep their seats. Their parties (of both colours) know their opposition to Hs2 won’t make the slightest shred of difference as the project has too much support. They can comfortably absorb such a tiny ‘rebellion’. There’s not a cat in hell’s chance of them succeeding, so their parties can accommodate them, knowing that it just might improve the chances of them holding onto their seats in an election year when every one may count.