I mentioned in an earlier blog that the Yorkshire Stophs2 campaign’s doomed to failure as they’re singing from different hymn sheets from the beginning. This is very evident from the plethora of petitions different groups have started – with different aims. For example, here’s one started by one Julie Pile, which says that:
Apart from the obvious nonsense about failures of “statutory duty” and the usual catastrophic language about “wrecking” the environment, it’s clear Julie doesn’t mind if this happens, as long as it happens elsewhere. This puts her on a collision course with other campaigners on the route, but also the City of Sheffield and other who campaigned long and hard to have the Hs2 route changed from Meadowhall in the first place. So far, the petition’s gathered 3343 signatures, 1643 of which (or 50.85%)are from the Hemsworth constituency of Jon Trickett MP. To put this in perspective, it’s just 1.73% of all his constituents. The only other people to have signed in any number are the 418 signatures from Ed Miliband’s neighbouring constituency, Doncaster North. What’s noticeable is the tiny number of supporting signatures from elsewhere, like Sheffield, or even Rother Valley, another constituency on the new Hs2 route.
There does seem to be an embarrassment of riches (well, petitions really) amongst people in Yorkshire as a John Haith, a Rother Valley resident from Bramley has started this one, which has 3,202 signatures (but little support from Hemsworth). Meanwhile, Stephen Simcox (also Rother Valley) has started a “spend Hs2 money on the NHS” petition which has a paltry 763 signatures.
In truth, none of them have a cat in hell’s chance of success, but they do show a very Yorkshire trait – a lack of agreement over anything! The fact that there are obvious tensions and different interests across the county (even amongst anti Hs2 groups) demonstrates why any campaign to try and Stop Hs2 is doomed from the start – especially as these small local groups are pitted against the metropolitan areas of Leeds, Sheffield and York (all very pro Hs2) as well as the majority of the wider Yorkshire business community. Plus, can anyone seriously think the good Burghers of Doncaster (home to one of the two National Colleges for High Speed Rail) will want to kiss goodbye to the thousands of skilled people who will be trained there? Or for that matter, the hundreds of skilled jobs that will be created by the Hs2 rolling stock depot at nearby Crofton?
No doubt there will be a few awkward moments for some MPs as they try and balance the wider interests of their constituents with the impossible demands of a minority, but does anyone seriously think they will actually vote to stop Hs2 coming to Yorkshire or carrying on to the North-East, or for that matter Notts?
There’s another consideration too. The Hs2 Hybrid Bill for phase 2 will also contain the line onwards from Crewe to Manchester (another Labour heartland). I’m sure there will be some very interesting meetings of the Parliamentary Labour Party if a handful of Labour MPs in Yorkshire were seen as putting the whole of the Phase 2 scheme under threat!
StopH2 campaigners in Yorkshire have made the same mistake that those on Phase 1 did. They’ve fallen into the trap of thinking their purely local concerns should be put ahead of national ones, and that others will give way to appease them.