This morning there was a Parliamentary debate on Hs2 which had been organised by Bill Cash, the MP for Stone (on the Hs2 route in Staffs). Cash is, how shall we say – not entirely connected with the real world. Not only is he an ardent Brexit supporter (and we all know just how well that’s going), he’s also been rather creative in the past with his expenses.
Still, the debate he secured this morning kicked off promptly. It was meant to help ‘revitalise’ the campaign against Hs2 as it followed on from another opinion poll commissioned by the Daily Express that showed a ‘majority’ of people oppose Hs2.
There was only one problem
The anti Hs2 ‘campaign’ (and I use that word loosely) is so short of political support that hardly any MPs turned up to the debate! I counted 5 that actually spoke to criticise Hs2. Cash delivered a long ramble which was nothing new, it was just Cash rehashed. You might as well have played one of his old speeches on a monitor and saved the old boy the bother. The usual suspects followed, the most prominent of which was the MP for Chesham and Amersham, Cheryl Gillan. Embarrassment followed embarrassment when it became clear that the anti MPs were matched and indeed surpassed by MPs who’d turned up to speak in Favour of HS2. These included Sir Robert Symes MP, the former Chair of the phase 1 Hybrid Bill Cttee, Graham Stringer MP (former leader of Manchester City Council), and of course the under secretary of state for transport, Nusrat Ghani MP, who wound up the whole sorry shambles by pointing out the political arithmetic by highlighting the overwhelming numbers of MPs and Lords who supported HS2 compared to those who opposed. In short, it was a humiliation.
Here’s a couple of pictures of the ‘packed’ meeting room. You’ll notice that the gallery outnumbers the MPs
So, what of the Daily Express poll? Well, it’s a gauge of the number of people who’ll grumble about Government spending, but apart from that it’s worthless. If you inserted a multiple choice question that said “OK, so what are you actually going to do about HS2” you know what the answer would be: nothing – as we’ve seen from hard evidence over the years in local and general elections (much to UKIP’s chagrin). It’s just not an issue that will make people change who they vote for.