It’s that time again when I wade through the Stop Hs2 ‘campaign’ social media stats to revel the truth behind the ridiculous claims and the hyperbole that this tiny bunch actually have huge public support. Stophs2 is still essentially two people: Penny Gaines (who’s been living in Bournemouth for several years now) and Joe Rukin who lives in Kenilworth. Despite having been trying for quite some time to find a proper job, no-one’s been daft enough to give him one. But then, as Joe’s a very strained relationship with facts (or the truth) it’s hardly surprising.
So, it’s been a busy month for them as their ‘campaign’ was ‘relaunched’ at the end of September, just in time for the conference season. Well, when I say relaunched, I mean they managed to drag some people together from a couple of the remaining local (in)action groups to send half a dozen people to leaflet outside the Tory conference (for all the good it did). Gone are the ‘glory’ days when they could afford to have stands inside the conferences, it’s all hand to mouth now…
OK, let’s crunch some numbers. I’m not going to post tables of individual tweets as there’s too many to bore you with (although I have the individual numbers if anyone wants them). Here’s the headline numbers. Let’s do Twitter first with a chart comparing their metrics over the past 3 months.
Despite the huge increase in Tweets in the last month (257%) and a 2% gain in followers, their numbers have hardly changed! In fact, the averages are worse than in August, as is their best number. Here’s their most popular tweet this month. As usual, it’s linked to Private Eye.
Herein lies a tale – both on their Twitter accounts and their Facebook page. Most of the stuff they Tweet or publish is linked to articles in the media, especially if it’s seen as critical of Hs2. But there’s no campaign news. There’s bugger all about what they’re doing, because most of the time that’s nothing. It’s the same with ‘news’ from the remaining (in)action groups, there’s so little going on there’s nothing to post. Stop Hs2 are almost entirely reactive, not proactive.
To be honest, both their feeds are mind-numbingly boring. Twitter is full of Rukin’s school of student politics: sweary and insulting. Nothing that resembles a campaign with intellect or gravitas. They’re reduced to moaning about Hs2, not organising to stop Hs2. If you’re suffering from insomnia have a browse of the #hs2 hashtag and see the sort of people who post anti Hs2 messages. It’s the last refuge of the green-ink brigade. There’s a couple of dozen regulars who are a mix of Nimbys, UKIPpers who think that Hs2’s a dastardly EU plot, right-wing libertarians and a few hand-wringing Greens who’ve been painted into a corner to oppose Hs2 but clearly have no alternatives to offer.
Facebook is very much the same. Here’s the last 3 months.
Let’s put all these numbers in perspective. There’s 6.5 million people who live in constituencies Hs2 will pass through, yet the sole surviving Stop Hs2 group’s only got 6302 Twitter followers and 8745 Facebook followers. That’s pathetic frankly, especially when you remember not all their followers will be sympathetic to them. What the numbers show is that their activist base is minute. Not only that, but many of their followers are clearly as mad as a box of frogs! One only has to read the comments to see that some people’s grasp of reality is tenuous, to say the least. Take a look at these few posted on Facebook recently…
As usual, it’s always the same small band of people posting exactly the same stuff they’ve been doing for years. It’s a ‘campaign’ that seems to spend most of its time chasing its tail.
Another obvious sign that there’s nothing going on is Stophs2’s own website. Up to 2017 they would be churning out 30 plus posts as month (I crunched those numbers here). Now they’re down to just 3 or 4. You can check out their archive here. They contain so much bluster and dodgy predictions they’re actually quite funny.
Now the conference season’s come and gone and the dust over the recent announcements about the Phase 2b Environmental statement and phase 2a contractors search has settled. It’s clear that the much hyped MP’s ‘rebellion’ over Hs2 was just that – hype. Meanwhile, construction of Hs2 continues across the phase 1 sites as the archaeological digs continue. In the meantime, demolition work around Euston will be speeding up. In 2019 construction of phase 1 will begin in earnest. I wonder of Joe Rukin will have found a real job by then?