Five days ago the Parliamentary timetable was announced for the 2nd reading of the Hs2 Phase 2a Hybrid Bill from the W Midlands to Crewe. This is the most important Parliamentary event since 2014 when the Phase 1 Hybrid Bill passed its second reading with a stonking majority of 411. 2nd reading is Parliament’s seal of approval on Phase 2a. If the bill passes, then Parliament is stating its intention that the line to Crewe will be built. 3rd reading and Royal Assent will follow almost automatically.
This means that the 30th is a crucial day for those opposed to building Hs2, especially those living on the phase 2a route. 2nd reading’s a week today (next Tuesday), so what are supposed ‘national’ group Stop Hs2 doing about it? Completely ignoring it – that’s what! Anyone relying on Stop Hs2 for news wouldn’t have a clue it’s even happening as there’s been no mention on their website, Facebook page or Twitter feed! It’s as if it doesn’t exist – which speaks volumes about the collapse of the Stop Hs2 campaign. The day Parliament made the announcement the only ‘news’ on the Stop Hs2 website was about a Euston Vicar chained to a tree. Talk about a sideshow!
The fact Stop Hs2 have ignored the real story says everything. Essentially, they’ve given up. They’ve changed from actively trying to stop Hs2 to doing nothing but moan about Hs2. Mind you, they’re not even doing much of that. They’re very much a part-time organisation who disappear for days – as the gaps on the website and social media accounts demonstrate. There’s no active campaigning going on anymore – as completely ignoring phase 2a shows. In the ‘old days’ StopH2 would have been organising demonstrations, encouraging people to respond to the petitioning process, publishing info for them to use etc, now? There’s nothing. It’s hardly surprising. StopH2 is two people, Chair Penny Gaines who now lives down in the SouthWest and ‘Campaign Manager’ Jo Rukin. Whilst he looks for a proper job Rukin’s reduced to a retweeting service for any old rubbish on the #hs2 hashtag or making up outrageous porkies for his rare posts on their website. Gaines is just as bad.
It’s the same on the ground. Here’s the latest Stop Hs2 petition results for phase 2a.
Not a single area has managed even half of 1% of constituents signing. Not exactly constituencies up in arms, are they? I’ve had a look through social media to see what action there is from any remaining ‘action’ groups on the route. The answer? Bugger all.
Here’s ‘Lichfield against Hs2’ Facebook page. It’s been derelict since September 2017. A grand total of 172 followed it. Of course, Lichfield’s MP, Michael Fabricant is a high-profile StopHs2 supporter but he’s very much in a minority. He’s good at gesture politics and self-publicity but he’s essentially powerless when it comes to trying to stop Hs2.
The villages of Whitmore and Madeley have a joint Facebook page which has been updated. Are they going to protest about the bill, perhaps rally in London? No. They’re going to have a meeting about it AFTER the bill passes 2nd reading! They’re not campaigning to stop Hs2, they’re campaigning for a longer, deeper tunnel.
The Tamworth ‘action’ group have a website that’s been derelict since March 2012! I can’t find anything else more recent.
I can find no sign of an ‘action’ group in Stone, although the local Tory MP, Sir Bill Cash does oppose Hs2. There’s no sign of organised grassroots opposition.
Staffordshire as a county has no organised opposition on the ground either. That collapsed years ago due to in-fighting as it was dominated by eccentrics who were using it to further their personal aggrandisement or UKIP agendas rather than as a serious Stop Hs2 campaign (see Trevor Forrester!)
As for Crewe – forget it. The opposition to Hs2 in the town was always politically led by either UKIP or the Greens. Now UKIP is a disaster area and the Greens are in a parlous state in the polls. In contrast, the Local Enterprise Partnership and politicians are strongly in favour of Hs2.
If anyone knows of any other groups, Facebooks pages of websites that should be included here – please, let me know.
If this is a look at the health of the StopHs2 campaign, the only diagnosis is that it’s terminal. The ‘national’ group is completely irrelevant now, but then it was always a national group in name only. Like Hs2aa and AGAHST, it was really all about phase 1. When it was clear that couldn’t be stopped, the writing was on the wall.
UPDATE: 26th January.
Yesterday StopHs2 finally had to admit that the Phase 2a Hybrid Bill would get its second reading on Tuesday. Penny Gaines (Joe Rukin still having gone missing) posted this dollop of recycled nonsense on their website. It tacitly admits defeat. There’s no call to arms, no demonstrations organised, no suggestions on what people should do to oppose the bill – nothing – just a whinge with a few porkies thrown in. Gaines makes the usual allegations that Hs2 is ‘late’. Whilst it’s true the timetable for the initial stages has slipped, the opening dates haven’t – she also completely ignores the fact the opening date for phase 2a has been brought forward from 2033 to 2027. That’s 6 years early!
Gaines says she and Rukin will be ‘live tweeting’ on the day. In other words, She’ll be sat at home in Bournemouth & Rukin in Kenilworth and they’ll have a whinge about the bill passing on Twitter. That’s what their ‘campaign’ is reduced to. It’s powerless, toothless and pointless. It exists as a ‘campaign’ in name only. It’s as much a campaign as an old bloke in a pub moaning about the world.
Stop Hs2 is dead.