I’m puzzled. The anti Hs2 mob have always sworn blind that they’re the majority. That (depending on which clickbait poll you care to read) the whole country is united in opposition to Hs2. It’s been the one single message that’s run through their campaign like the lettering in a stick of rock. Everybody opposes Hs2…
OK, so let’s bin the clickbait polls and the posturing, cut through the crap and look at reality. Let’s crunch some real numbers and look at events on the ground.
For a start, how many people live in the 63 constituencies that Hs2 passes through? According to the Government website Hs2 antis often use for their petitions, that’s 6,567,433 people. Yep, over 6.5 MILLION – hardly an insignificant number. So, first question. If that’s the case, why’ve less than 0.37% of them signed the latest Stophs2 petition? I’m typing this at 12:53 on a Saturday. Here’s the score on the door as I do. 24,814 – out of 6.5m
In fact, the position’s worse than that total suggests. 24814 is the total nationally, it includes the 3 received from the Orkneys & Shetland (where Hs2 is obviously a burning issue and dominating the inbox of the local MP). It also includes 2 signatures from Mid Ulster, another area which is clearly vexed about Hs2. So, what’s the real total for the 63 constituencies? I crunched the numbers yesterday. Here they are.
Having taken out all the signatures from constituencies away from the route we’re left with the fact that just 0.21% of people living on the route of Hs2 have signed the Stop H2 petition! 0.2%! So much for the strength of the support Stop Hs2 claim. But then this is what happens when you look beyond the hype to the real numbers.
It’s the same when you look at the campaign on the ground. They used to hold annual conventions, the last one was at The Staffordshire showground in June 2013. Their last national rally was in April 2014, the day Parliament passed the Phase 1 bill with a stonking majority of 411. Less than 100 demonstrators countrywide turned up.
Now the focus has switched to ‘direct action’ to prevent Hs2 being built. Apart from the fact this is a tacit admittance of their failure, it’s also proved to be a huge embarrassment due to the miserly turnout. Take Euston as an example. On the 12th January a local Vicar and another protester chained themselves to a tree in Euston Gardens. How many protesters were there? Less than the number of media who turned out to watch! (link).
Now this was central London and a borough that the protesters tell you is dead set against Hs2? So where are they all? One of the people interviewed, Keri Brennan is from Hillingdon, not Camden! Stophs2 should have had hundreds of people here, but they didn’t. Why? Because most people have given up. What you see in the TV interviews are the same few faces.
It was the same a few days later when the gardens were closed. How many demonstrators staged a sit-down protest? THREE.
If this is the best they can do it really is laughable! If they can’t get people to turn up in central London then they really are in trouble. Meanwhile, what about that other protest in Harvil Rd in Hillingdon? It’s no better there. Harvil Rd has been organised by Hillingdon Green party. One of the stalwarts of the Harvil Rd protest is a woman called Sarah Brooks. Wait a minute, Sarah, that name sounds familiar? Yep, it’s the same Sarah who was at Euston in the pic above. There’s so few people involved that they have to be shared between protests!
Harvil Rd isn’t exactly a hotbed of protest either. They have a small camp opposite the site entrance and occasionally make a nuisance of themselves by climbing on heavy plant or blocking the site entrance. Here’s an example.
Corralled behind those barriers are a grand total of FOUR protesters! Hs2 Ltd have announce that they’re seeking a High Court order to restrain the protesters. They’ve named SEVEN people in it – that’s all the regulars involved! Here’s another view produced by the protesters themselves that includes a plea for extra people to join them.
In the video on the left hand side is another familiar face. The ‘spokesman’ for Hillingdon Green party, Mark Kier, who produced this load of tosh back in December. I mean, come on folks! This isn’t exactly on the scale of the Twyford Down or the M11 link road protests is it? This is their problem. The anti Hs2 groups have always written cheques they can’t cash. They’ve always pretended that they have more public support then they had. Sadly, the national media has always swallowed their claims without questioning them. This blog doesn’t. It was the same when the Hs2 plus report was launched in Manchester in 2014. None of the handful of demonstrators outside was from Manchester (which doesn’t have a single StopHs2 group in the whole of the city), they were all from Cheshire!
Of course all this is a sideshow. Hs2 Phase 1 is under construction. On the 30th January the spotlight shifts and the Hybrid Bill for the next phase of HS2 – the section from Birmingham to Crewe will get its second reading in Parliament. It would take a miracle for the bill not to pass as Hs2 has always had cross-party support. A fact that makes these futile protests look even more pointless.
UPDATE: 9th February 2018.
As expected, the Phase 2 a Hybrid bill sailed through by 295 votes to 12. There wasn’t a single stophs2 protester outside Parliament that day. Meanwhile, the Harvil Rd protest has faded away and attracts little attention or support. It’s the same at Euston where the removal of trees in Euston Square gardens resulted in a protest from just a handful of people;
Meanwhile, StopHs2, the sole remaining ‘national’ campaign group hasn’t been heard from all month (apart from a couple of retweets on twitter). It’s website hasn’t been updated since January. Will the last one out please turn off the lights?