Here’s the first analysis of 2016 that looks at the state of play with the anti Hs2 campaign. To be honest I doubt there will be many more of them as their campaign’s falling apart even faster than I thought. 2015 ended badly for them and the trend has got even worse in 2016. How much longer they can pretend they still have a credible campaign is very much open to question.
They only have two campaign groups left in 2016. Stophs2 and Hs2aa. The latter seems to be a group in name only nowadays. Apart from a couple of desultory tweets showing ‘empty’ West Coast trains they’ve done nothing since December 7th 2015. Hs2aa remain totally silent about their last ditch legal appeal to the UN which was due to be considered in December. This suggests it’s not gone well. Meanwhile, the Hs2aa Directors seem to have adopted the line of “every man for himself” by abandoning any coherent campaign and represent their own self-interests at the Hs2 Petitioning Committee instead. This isn’t really surprising as their campaign has nowhere to go. They’ve exhausted the legal options, they’ve failed to make any political impact and there’s nothing else they can do apart from pray they can somehow influence the Lords when the Hs2 bill reaches them (if they last that long). It’s a forlorn hope.
The news from Stophs2 is equally dire. The question really has to be asked now – what’s the point of Stophs2? They have no campaign programme away from social media and no new strategy. There’s also signs that the people they’ve been cruelly hoodwinking for so long (the folk who are genuinely affected by Hs2 as they live on the route) are abandoning them. Joe Rukin was meant to be representing several such folk at the Hs2 Committee hearings. The latest list shows that instead, these people have decided to represent themselves. This effectively puts Joe out of a job as that was his last real reason to exist other than being a ‘rent a quote’ for the dwindling number of media outlets who still pay Stophs2 any attention. They have nothing going on away from social media, there’s no demonstrations, rallies or events planned. In fact, their calendar is bare.
The lack of anything happening in the real world has left the anti Hs2 mob increasingly reliant on social media to keep any pretence of a campaign going, so let’s have a look at the ‘scores on the doors’. I now have a whole year of data on their Facebook and Twitter campaign’s to compare and the results are appalling, especially when you consider that not all followers are supporters (many are simply there to keep an eye on them) and the fact the UK electorate consists of some 46 million plus souls. How many are the anti Hs2 campaign reaching? A tiny, tiny fraction…
So, in 12 months Stophs2 have managed to reach just over 500 more folk on Facebook and less than 500 on Twitter! Hs2aa’s figures are even more dire. 300 odd on Twitter, and an absolutely pathetic 14 on Facebook! I’ve left in 51m (who’ve ceased to exist) and former AGHAST Comms Director Deanne Dukhan as a comparator.The irony here is that Deanne has managed to boost her following by over 68% by NOT Tweeting about Hs2
To pile on more woes, the StopHs2 campaign’s managed to shoot itself in both feet with a blunderbuss by crazily trotting out another petition. One of their campaign’s trademarks is their stubborn refusal to abandon the same tired & failed tactics they’ve been using since the beginning. Personally I believe this is because they genuinely haven’t got a clue what else to do. The “spend Hs2 money on flood protection” petition has been a tactical disaster for them as all it’s done is highlight their lack of countrywide support whilst exposing the fact they really are a bunch of Nimbys! Around 50% of all signatures come from constituencies on the Hs2 route. The only constituency that’s got over a 1000 is (surprise, surprise) in the Chilterns! You can see a full breakdown in this blog. Needless to say, the petition hasn’t got a snowball’s chance in hell of reaching 100,000, it’s not even getting 75 signatures a day, never mind the minimum 549 it needed. It’s another in their long list of failures.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, the parliamentary campaign is going from bad to worse. Back in 2015 Joe Rukin was boasting of how many folks had petitioned against Additional Provision 4 (AP4) of the HS2 bill (a paltry 122). He soon had to eat his works when Locus Standi challenges were upheld against the majority of them. Now the final additional provision (AP5) is in. 22 have petitioned on it but there are Locus challenges against 13 of them! This means that the Petitioning Committee will be winding up very soon, allowing the Hybrid Bill to move on to the next stage. If you want to follow the Hs2 parliamentary process in detail, follow @on Twitter or visit their website. Here’s the Hs2 Ctte programme as far as the 3rd February.
Trying to delay the Hs2 bill with petitions was a central plank of the anti Hs2 campaign. Their hope was this would either make the project too expensive or delay in long enough a new Government might have seconds thought and scrap the project. In the early days antis were cock a hoop as they thought the fact the 1100 plus petitions submitted would do the trick. As usual, they miscalculated – badly. The Hybrid Bill Committee have proven to be firm but fair – and no pushover.
The total lack of success on the part of the anti Hs2 campaign has obviously had an effect on its supporters. Sick of being lied to by a few who still crazily insist they can stop Hs2, their sensible supporters are abandoning them. Here’s the sentiment expressed by a recent poster on the StopHs2 Facebook page.
This steady ebbing of support is affecting their campaign in several ways. It’s leaving them increasingly skint and it’s leaving the lunatics in charge of the (social media) asylum. Most of the anti Hs2 Tweeters are what can only be described as “special people”. They’re the Walter Mitty’s who live in a fantasy world. Here’s a classic example from one Nicholas Batty
“strength to strength?” Does anyone genuinely believe this guff? Even arch fantasist Batty himself?
At the risk of falling foul of Godwin’s law, they remind me of the last days in Hitler’s bunker. They’re still pretending they have troops to muster, or that an imaginary cavalry is out there who will ride to their rescue at the 11th hour (that was meant to be UKIP at the general election, but we all know what happened there!). To see how bonkers they’ve become on only has to look at the #hs2 hashtag on Twitter, or peruse the StopHs2 Facebook page . (Don’t bother with Hs2aa’s. Like their website, it hasn’t been updated since December 7th!). Quite how a few rather hysterical and out of touch people ranting on social media is meant to convince anyone to join their campaign is a complete mystery.
All the evidence points to the Stophs2 campaign being on the verge of collapse. In many ways it already has as it’s no credibility or capability left. It wouldn’t be unfair to say that now, it’s all over bar the shouting. All that’s left is for the funder(s) to finally pull the plug on StopHs2 and Hs2aa. Will the last person left please turn out the lights…