I’ve often said that the Stop hs2 campaign never learns from its mistakes. I’ve been provided with another great example of this today when one of the campaigns long-standing Walter Mittys’ (the fantasist Nicholas Batty) tweeted a link to yet another daft petition on the Government’s website.
Here’s a link to the actual petition.
Needless to say I went to have a look. The petition was started by a Stephen Simcox from Rotherham on the 26th July 2016 & closes on the 21st January 2017 (all petitions are set to close automatically after 6 months) It’s gathered a grand total of 467 signatures since. It hasn’t got a cat in hell’s chance of success but what I found really interesting was that someone in the Civil Service has been expanding the data these petitions carry. Not only do they tell you the number of signatures from each of the 650 Parliamentary constituencies, now they also tell you what percentage of registered voters have signed. This is extremely useful as it tells you how much people in that constituency care (or rather, don’t care) about an issue. However, for the Stop Hs2 campaigners it’s a disaster, as it allows you to define just how little support they have!
Here’s a screengrab of the constituency map.
This shows that the greatest number of signatures (a ‘whopping’ 121) come from the Rother Valley constituency on phase 2 of Hs2. 2nd is 62 signatures from the Doncaster North constituency. Now this can be put into context thanks to the new feature.
Rother Valley has 94,959 constituents and a *cough* massive 0.13% of them have signed the petition! In Doncaster North that’s 0.06%. Somehow, I don’t think any MPs are going to be losing sleep over this.
Phase 2 StopHs2 campaigners are running a carbon-copy of the campaign that failed to stop Hs2 on phase 1 in the South. It’s crazy as they don’t have the money or support that their Southern counterparts had. Not only that but the two surviving umbrella groups (Hs2aa and StopHs2) are both based in the South. Neither of them are likely to survive beyond Phase 1 receiving Royal Assent – which will leave phase 2 protestors without any logistical or technical support. The Yorkshire stophs2 campaign is isolated anyway as it doesn’t even have the support of its local MPs (for example, Doncaster North’s Ed Milliband is a firm supporter of Hs2). They’re also up against Yorkshire business groups who’re strong supporters of the project. There’s also the problem of a lack of unity between old and new groups in Yorkshire as some are campaigning for the Hs2 route to be moved back to Meadowhall!
In short, the Yorkshire Stophs2 campaign’s over before it’s even started.
The sad thing about all this is that the people who are genuinely affected by Hs2 are being led up the garden path by the likes of Joe Rukin from Stop Hs2. Instead of campaigning for the best route possible, maximum mitigation and benefits to their communities from new facilities funded by Hs2 Ltd, they’ve been conned into wasting their time fighting a battle they can’t possibly win by trying to stop Hs2 altogether.
Since this blog was written (6 days ago) signatures have gone up by 253, from 464 to 720 – or 42.1 a day. The problem is, a petition like this needs an average of 556 signatures per day to stand any chance of getting past the magic 100,000, and each day it fails, that number increases…