Today’s Queen’s speech means Parliament is back at work & progress on the Hs2 Hybrid Bill will pick up where it left off – with a slight amendment. One of the Hybrid Bill members lost his seat at the election so a replacement will need to be found for the former Lib-Dem MP for Eastleigh, Mike Thornton. There’s speculation in some circles that his replacement will come from the SNP as they’ve replaced the Lib-Dems as the 3rd largest. We shall have to wait and see…
Continuity is also the name of the game over at the Department of Transport where Patrick McLaughlin remains in post as Transport Minister. This is good news for the rail industry and Hs2 as there’s no need to get a new Minister up to speed with what needs to be done.
Of course, all this is bad news for the anti Hs2 camp who don’t seem know which way to turn now their ‘great white hope’ (UKIP) has vanished in a cloud of voting papers – taking a huge chunk of the anti Hs2 tweeters with them. The anti Hs2 mobs Twitter campaign has descended into farce since the election. There are still a few blowhards hanging on from the old days who think ranting on the internet changes anything but many of them are isolated individuals with no backing, or what can be charitably called ‘special people’. Here’s a typical example of the isolated Tweeter from that well known hotbed of anti hs2 activism. Err, Lisburn, in Northern Ireland (‘hotbed’? Are you sure this is right? Ed).
The folks who are noticeable by their absence nowadays are the supposed ‘action group’ network although this is hardly surprising. They’ve been in decline for years & really have nowhere to go anymore. The Hybrid Bill petitioning process has drawn any sting they might have thought they had – and the election results have shown they’ve no political clout (even at a local council level). Their public rallies have been abandoned as an embarrassment as so few folks turn up. So there’s little reason for their existence any more.
I do genuinely feel sorry for the people who are affected by Hs2 & who’ve been gulled into thinking the anti campaign really could stop Hs2. They’ve been given false hope & some of them have thrown away both time & money. The election results have shown that the scales have dropped from quite a few eyes. Sadly it’s too much to hope that the people who cynically exploit them (StopHs2 & Hs2aa) will suffer an outbreak of honesty, realism or contrition. However, the good news is that as their activist base dies a source of funding dries up too. As StopHs2 funds come predominantly from one man – it’s anyone’s guess when he’ll see sense & stops throwing his money away.
As another example of a campaign going nowhere fast I’ve updated the antis ‘scores on the doors’. These show their social media growth (or not!) on Facebook & Twitter.
The usual caveats apply. Not all followers are supporters etc…
Looking through social media the anti’s sense of aggrieved bewilderment is obvious. Some of them had bought into their own hype so completely they still can’t admit what had really happened at the election. There’s complete denial over the implications of their general election no-show & risible ‘no votes for you with Hs2’campaign (which influenced no-one at all). What none of them will talk about or deal with is the awkward question of ‘how are we going to Stop Hs2 now’? Because the answer is staring them in the face. They can’t. At the risk of falling in the trap of Godwin’s law – I can only compare them to the last days of the Third Reich & the mentality inside the bunker as the Russians closed in, with UKIP in the role of General Felix Steiner’s Army Detachment.
No doubt there’ll still be media speculation & a fair bit of froth in the next few months as the Hs2 Hybrid Bill continues its course through Parliament but the position is clear. There’s no credible opposition to Hs2 & there’s even less of a credible alternative. Rail passenger growths continues apace as the economy picks up – and look out for some interesting statistics & comments to appear from Virgin Trains on their West Coast business.