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The past few weeks have demonstrated a curious crossover between the dogmatists who still support Brexit (despite all the evidence of the utter shambles it was always going to turn into) and opposition to building Hs2. Anyone could be forgiven for thinking this is actually collusion. Today we’ve had Andrew Neil add his name to the list, claiming Hs2 money should be diverted to building high speed rail in the North. For the North this is all very touching. It’s also completely false. None of them could really give a damn about the North, it’s just the latest excuse to try and get Hs2 cancelled.

Liam Halligan trotted out the same excuse in Dispatches (which I analysed here). By pure co-incidence Neil is the Chairman of the Spectator, a magazine well know for printing anti Hs2 stories. Who had one in there recently? Yep, you’ve guessed it – Liam Halligan.

The crossover isn’t just through this little cabal of right-wing media types. It’s taken an interesting and rather darker turn. We’re suddenly seeing a lot of Twitter trolls which have been bashing out pro-Brexit propaganda now starting to tweet in opposition to Hs2. Who’s the guiding mind behind this I wonder? Meanwhile, other (long dormant) Twitter accounts have been resurrected to Tweet against Hs2. Here’s some examples.


pro brexit 2


It’s clear that this is now a co-ordinated campaign. The truth is, the anti Hs2 campaign’s getting rather desperate. They’ve been campaigning to stop Hs2 for nearly a decade now and got absolutely nowhere. In that time most of the local Stophs2 groups have collapsed, meaning there’s little in the way of a ‘grassroots’ campaign anymore, just a few isolated people. Even the notionally ‘national’ groups like HS2aa have failed and gone to the wall as the cross-party support for HS2 has remained unbreakable. Now, all that’s left is the Tory right-wingers in the media and their curious contacts with the shady world of social media manipulation through the use of Twitter trolls to further their aims.

Trolls are desperately needed because StopHs2’s own tiny band of Twitter followers are pretty useless. There’s just over 6000 of them. The problem is most of them never retweet or like anything, so they’re as much use as a chocolate fireguard! Foolishly, StopHs2 keep ‘pinning’ tweets to the top of the page, which makes it easy to see how many retweets or likes they get. It’s never over 100 and often far less. I crunch their social media numbers every month. Here’s last month. There’s a very obvious flaw in their troll strategy. Trolls and bots can’t write to their MPs or vote in elections. Oh, you might influence one or two people, but as Hs2 has never been an electoral issue you’re on a hiding to nothing. Also, this is not a referendum. Besides, who would Chiltern or Northern Nimbys actually vote for other than their normal party. UKIP? They’re finished. Try as you might, you’re not going to frighten many MPs in to opposing Hs2 – if any -and it’s MPs who vote on building Hs2.

Here’s a graphic illustration of their problem – all the dead Twitter accounts of people like this who’ve moved away from the Hs2 route after being bought out/relocated of their own accord. Unlike bots, these people could vote but Ms Carter gave up in June 2015. There’s many, many more like her…


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