It’s that regular time of month when I take a snapshot of the state of the anti Hs2 campaign and (for them) the news just gets worse. Let’s kick off with the usual analysis of their performance across social media – which they’ve become increasingly reliant upon as their activist base declines.
There’s now 9 months of data to analyse and what it shows is that, despite evidence that they’ve been stung into trying to improve the numbers – they’re still getting nowhere fast.
First, remember the usual caveat, not all followers are supporters, many are simply there to keep an eye on what they’re up to. Also, many of their Twitter followers are fake accounts or sock puppets so Twitter is a very poor gauge of real support. Plus, a group of people all ranting to each other don’t really have an impact outside of their own small circle. Facebook is even more insular. It’s good for getting your message out to people who like your pages, but that means you’re only really preaching to the converted. It’s also a double-edged sword as the Stophs2 Facebook page shows. On it you can see a small group of hopelessly confused people who really can’t understand why no-one is actually listening to them, although anyone looking in can easily see why. Here’s a few recent examples;
Crunching the numbers shows their Facebook campaign is moribund with only a 5.33% increase for Stophs2 and a mere 0.74% for Hs2aa. What’s even worse is the increases are from a tiny base! As for 51M – they’ve gone backwards, but as their FB page was last updated in June 2011 & they’ve effectively ceased to exist it’s moot.
Over on Twitter things aren’t much better. The two surviving groups (stophs2 & Hs2aa) are still under 5,000 followers apiece so a 10% increase in 9 months means little. Of course, many of these followers will be the same people, which limits their spread even more. The great irony in the figures is the only person with a decent increase is the former Communications Director of another defunct group (AGAHST) who’s achieved her popularity by tweeting about anything other than Hs2! Their Twitter campaign is increasingly farcical. It’s mostly in the hands of isolated individual who try to to keep it going. The ludicrous stuff they tweet is mostly outright bonkers or offensive, it certainly won’t convert the people they need to stop Hs2 – which makes it all the more counterproductive. This is starting to tell as the numbers of retweets their nonsense gets is steadily declining.
Another sign of the anti Hs2 campaign’s decline is that the Hs2aa website is STILL blocked by virus protection software some three and a half weeks after I first blogged about it.
Meanwhile, in the real world,things are even worse. Their campaign’s had a truly awful month…
The stophs2 campaign held a secret gathering of countrywide groups that was nothing short of an embarrassment. You can read about it here. All it achieved was to show how much the strength of their campaign has declined in the past couple of years. Their woes were compounded when the Chancellor, George Osborne presented his budget review. Not only did this expose their claims that hs2 would divert money from improvements to the existing rail network, it also skewered their ridiculous claims for how much Hs2 will cost as the budget was updated to 2015 prices. You can read about that here.
Budget day also exposed a growing schism between the two remaining anti Hs2 groups. Whilst Stophs2 have been trying to spin the costs of Hs2 as “spiralling” Hs2aa members were distinctly off-message at the Hybrid Bill petitions! Hs2aa’s Hilary Wharf was part of a group that was arguing the Chilterns could have a fully bored tunnel as tunnelling costs often turned out to be lower than official estimates! You can see their evidence to the Committee here.
So, where does this leave their campaign? Up shit creek really…
They’ve utterly failed to make any political breakthrough. Their activist base is steadily declining and their stability of the two remaining groups in looking increasingly rocky. Meanwhile, the Government and Hs2 Ltd are pressing ahead with the project whilst the Hybrid Bill Committee are steaming ahead with the petitioning process – all of which eats further into the Stophs2 activist base.
Somehow I don’t think there’s going to be much cheer at the Stophs2 Christmas party, which is going to be their last….