Looking at what passes for a campaign to stop HS2 and the main players I sometimes wonder of those people who donate to Crowdfunders to pay for things ever actually stop to think where their money might be going?
Perhaps they assume it’s all going to some brave ‘eco-warriors’ who only care about the environment? After all, that’s the impression some sections of the media do their best to present. These kids you see on TV are all modern day versions of ‘Swampy’, risking all to protect the country’s ecology if you believed everything you read in the Guardian.
No doubt the people who’ve been persuaded to cough up money also think it’s all accounted for and everything is scrupulously above board and every penny goes to protecting trees – or something…
The truth is rather different. I wonder how many people who’ve parted with cash know about how much has gone ‘missing’, the in-fighting between groups for control of the campaign, the fact theft is common on the camps and that actually, what you’re just as likely to be funding are anarchist groups with a wider political agenda who’ve just latched onto HS2 as yet another way to gain influence – and get money….
Don’t believe me? Here’s the evidence.
Since the protests on the ground have started the number of protest camps has grown from one (Harvil Rd, near Uxbridge) to just half a dozen. They’re at Crackley Wood (Warks) Cubbington Woods (Warks), Wendover (Bucks), Poors Piece (at Calvert), Jones Hill woods near Gt Missenden and Denham Country park – which is the remains of the Harvil Rd camp after previous evictions.
Not a lot to stop the biggest construction project in Europe is it? Even worse, many of the camps aren’t actually doing anything. The laughably named Wendover ‘Active’ Resistance camp has done nothing since it had a sunbathe to stop Hs2 day (no, really!) on the 8th August. The rest of their time seems to be taken up with partying or venturing into the village to beg or bum food.
Poors Piece near Calvert labels itself as a Conservation project and appears to have little involvement in trying to actively stop Hs2, Jones Hill woods remains largely undisturbed by HS2 work, so has seen little action. Crackley Camp is pretty much redundant as much of the woodland that was to be cleared for HS2 has already been felled (they didn’t stop a single tree being felled). Cubbington is much like Jones Hill, work’s due to start there shortly. That leaves Denham which has been the site of most of the large protests recently. Well, as large as anti HS2 protests get – which normally means a few dozen people ineffectively kicking off and creating a nuisance, but little else.
That was until the past few days when tree felling took place along the Fosse Way in Warks. Sadly, several large Oaks had to be removed to make way for the course of the railways and also road diversions. It was yet another farce for the stopHs2 groups. With few local people on the ground reinforcements drove (irony, no?) up from Jones Hill and Harvil Rd (82 miles away) – for all the good it did. By yesterday all the trees had been felled, with several protesters arrested. The protesters are nothing if not consistent as this is yet another straight defeat.
So who are these groups opposed to Hs2? Well, the original national Group is StopHs2, but this is really only two people (Joe Rukin and Penny Gaines) and it’s more of a marketing and fundraising operation nowadays. The actual protesters are a rag-bag of local Nimbys and (mostly) young people who group themselves under the Extinction Rebellion or Hs2Rebellion banners, with one or two veterans of the old roads protests who’re ‘professional’ campaigners and serial failures – like Larch Maxey, who seems to struggle with modern technology. Hilariously, he failed to glue himself to some automatic doors earlier this month!
But here’s where it becomes very ‘Life of Brian’!
After pulling a couple of cupid stunts in Central London and elsewhere during the Covid lockdown it seems Extinction Rebellion and Hs2 Rebellion had a falling out. You’ll notice HS2 Rebellion no longer use any XR branding.
Meanwhile, people have so far donated over £36,000 via this Crowdfunder.
The aims are claimed as this.
The more enquiring minds amongst you may have noticed that there’s no named group or persons in charge here. Nor is their any mention of an auditor or audited accounts. In fact, there’s nothing, not even an address – and there’s been no feedback whatsoever from whoever set this up. So, there’s no mention of any way of overseeing that this money goes to what (or where) is claimed.
Some of the activists on the ground started noticing this too – including people who have been part of the administration of HS2Rebellion. Two of them (Hayley-Marie Pitwell and Lora Hughes) are long term-protesters who’ve been based in the camps. Having got no answers behind the scenes they were forced to go public via Facebook. Here’s a long (but illuminating) exchange! Go grab some popcorn…
This was several weeks ago, but nothing was ever resolved and (to my knowledge) no accounts have ever appeared anywhere. As for the Joe Rukin ‘legal case’ – it doesn’t exist…
To say this ruffled feathers is an understatement. Then things went from bad to worse as ‘Lorax’ chipped in. Go grab more popcorn! Oh, and a warning, this gets very un-PC!
Got your breath back after all that yet? It’s now the 26th August and there’s still no sign of the storm over the ‘missing’ money abating. meanwhile, life at the protest camps is hardly sweetness and light. Their nature means they attract all sorts of waifs and strays. Some with the best of intentions, others not… There’s always been problems with people who identify themselves as anarchists and who believe all property is theft. They tend to be light fingered with other people’s property, as Alan Woodward (a long term member of the camps) found to his cost.
I’ve always been amused by how many of those people who see themselves as anarchists and lovers of ‘freedom’ tend to be some of the most dictatorial and authoritarian going. This trait is manifesting itself in the attitude of those behind HS2rebellion and some of their supporters. It’s very much a case of ‘do as I say’ not as I do – as you’ll see shortly. meanwhile, as if there’s not been enough –
Here’s some more!
HS2 rebellion tried to claim this little ‘action’ for themselves…
Only what they failed to notice was the .com on the bottom of one of the banners – which led to this exchange on the Rebellion Facebook page.
Hang on a minute! This is not about a railway? What IS it all about then? Here’s the answer. More anarchists – and more splitters!
“Jelly Tot” is one Elliott Cuciurean, another of the anarchist wing of the HS2 protests who’s been up in court for repeatedly breaking a High Court injunction (amongst other charges) and who’s due to be sentenced in October. He was prominent at Crackley and Harvil Rd camps. It seems this bunch are some of his friends from the Denham camp who’ve had a falling out with HS2 Rebellion.
As usual, you’ll notice their environmental credentials are paper thin, because that’s not really what they’re about – it’s just a convenient peg. Their website is just as transparent in content. It only has two blog entries, both of which are tedious rants. What gives the game away are the tags to each…
“Class Traitors”? “Smash the state”?
I do have to laugh when I think about all those comfortable middle-class Chiltern Nimbys who’ve been donating money to these people and not realising what exactly they’re offering to feed and keep in their midst. People who want to bring down their whole way of life!
This brings me onto my final example of how these protesters are using HS2 protests for their own ends and wider political aims. Step forward William, who posts on Twitter as ‘Boots on the Ground’ (@bearwitness2019). William is an American who lives in London whom I featured in my last ‘crazy anti HS2 protester of the week‘ blog.
Recently, William (despite his supposed concern for the environment) secretly flew off to Spain for a few weeks – only he kept forgotting to turn the location finder off on his phone, which rather gave the game away!
The giveaway is that for several weeks we are spared him recording diatribes to camera and posting them on Twitter. Until yesterday, when he popped up in London at a tiny protest.
Hang on a minute…Not only is he not wearing a mask, as he’s just flown back from Spain he should be self-isolating – which means he’s breaking the law and could be fined £1000. In fact, as I’m assuming he’s still an American citizen, it’s worse. Here’s the Home Office guidelines.
But this is typical of the protesters. It’s do as I say, not as I do. They rail at others for supposedly breaking the law and ‘crimes’ whilst blatantly ignoring it themselves. Oh, there’s more. In his latest video, William calls for support for a new political party called ‘Beyond Politics’. You might not have heard of them but they’re a splinter group of Extinction Rebellion extremists who recently trashed the offices of several charities and political parties! 5 of them are now on remand.
Such democratic people, eh?
This is the true face of a lot of the hard-core protesters against HS2. They haven’t got a hope in hell of stopping Hs2 of course, but I though it was worth recording for the record who they really are and what their real agenda is – and it has very little to to with the environment – or railways.
I’ve a favour to ask…
If you enjoy reading this blog, please click on an advert or two. You don’t have to buy anything you don’t want to of course (although if you did find something that tickled your fancy would be fab!), but the revenue from them helps to cover some of the cost of maintaining this site – and right now (because of Covid), us locked-down freelances need all the help that we can get…
UPDATE (23rd October 2020).
The shenanigans continue, so here’s a link to part 2…