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I’ve been threatening to blog about the latest daft Stop Hs2 petition for ages now but I’ve never been able to find the time as it’s been busy year on a whole host of fronts. I’ve finally found a few moments and thought, it’s now or never…

First, a bit of history. Back in September the sole surviving ‘national’ Stop Hs2 umbrella group was foolish (and desperate) enough to start a new petition on the Government website. Regular readers will know how I love these petitions as they allow you to mine data. Each signature is allocated to the constituency it comes from so you can discover where the anti Hs2 campaign’s strength lies – and where its weaknesses are. Amongst other things the number of signatures helps show where there are active Stophs2 groups.

The results have been fascinating. Right from the start it was obvious the petition was never going to hit its target, but that didn’t prevent @stophs2 boasting that they’d harvested 10,000 signatures in their first week. It was a boast that was always going to come back and haunt them – as it’s proved…

I decided to drill down the data by analysing each constituency Hs2 passes through and update the results every two days. As the petition quickly faltered I decided to add the monthly scores, which have proved to be interesting – and also the last time anyone signed in each constituency. Predictably phase 1 of Hs2 provides the vast bulk of the signatures as that’s where the campaign was best organised & where all the ‘national’ anti Hs2 groups were based (Hs2aa, AGAHST, 51M and stophs2) but it’s pointless as the Phase 1 Hybrid Bill has Royal Assent and Phase 1’s under construction! Here’s today’s results. I’ve added the number of constituents for comparison.

blog 1

As you can see, the greatest ‘success’ is in Cheryl Gillans constituency, where a ‘massive’  1474 people have signed. But wait, what percentage of all constituents is that? It’s only 1.57% – and that’s in the one place that’s the ‘hotbed’ of Stophs2 with a prominent anti MP! Head North out of the Chilterns and the numbers drop dramatically, with lots of zeros appearing. Head into London and the pictures exactly the same. Even Camden (supposedly the most anti of London boroughs) only reaches 370 signatures (or 0.26%). This suggests to me that in many areas the ‘action group’ network’s collapsed. A search for their websites or perusal of their Facebook or Twitter accounts confirms that suspicion.

Now let’s move on to the next phase of Hs2 – phase 2a to Crewe and on to Manchester. The numbers here are very interesting…

blog 2

The best number here is a measly 324, or 0.38% in Stone, which still has a functioning stophs2 group (of sorts) and an anti MP – Bill Cash. After that the numbers are appalling. Look at the dates when someone last signed.  It’s clear there’s few functioning stophs2 groups on the rest of the route. Stafford’s a waste of time and even Tatton (which includes the dysfunctional Mid-Cheshire Stophs2 group) can’t muster more than 0.32%! head North into metropolitan Manchester and the numbers are laughable! This bodes badly for stophs2 when the phase 2a bill passes 2nd reading & begins its path through Parliament. Now lets have a look at Phase 2 to Leeds…

blog 3

Despite a handful of active stophs2 groups on this section and acres of bluff and bluster about ‘big’ protests, judicial reviews etc, it’s clear that there’s little going on in many constituencies. Rother Valley’s the noticeable exception, but even here the figures aren’t huge (unless you count 1.3% of all constituents as a major problem). Also, this area’s where groups are in direct conflict with MPs who may not be happy about details of the route, but who still support building Hs2.

Let’s look at the headline % figures for each of the 3 groups, which puts things into a different perspective. Phase 1 has 0.30% of all constituents signed up. Phase 2 to Manchester has just 0.10% and the Leeds leg only has 0.17%. In total that’s a tiny 0.34% of all the 6,567,433 constituents!

Here’s another perspective. The Government website contains lots of polls. The headline for Stophs2 is this.

petition. 22 dec. 17.14

Not exactly a million man march, is it? It gets worse. The Hs2 petition’s No 21 in the ratings. It’s beaten by petitions about banning fireworks (108,715) banning balloon & sky lantern releases (43,326) and the sale of animal fur (27,667) – amongst others!

What this crazy petitions revealed is how the anti hs2 campaign’s been a spectacular failure that’s continuing to fail. All the national groups bar one have folded. The one that remains (Stophs2) is toothless. It doesn’t have the money or political influence to keep the campaign going – especially now that spades are in the ground preparing for the construction of phase 1 whilst political attention shifts off their turf to Phase 2a and beyond.

2018 is going to be a very interesting year for Hs2 – but for the anti Hs2 campaign it’s ‘Good-night Vienna’