Well, the Green Party of England and Wales anyway. The Scottish Green party is a separate entity and seems to be far more sensible and less dogmatic than the GPEW.
As someone who fits the profile of what looks like a natural Green party supporter and who’s voted for them in the past, I now find myself actively opposing them. Why? Because of their dogmatic and dishonest stance on railways and especially the High Speed 2 (HS2) rail project. It was this stance that made me look deeper at GPEW policy several years ago. It led to a long blog where I dissected their policy and the outright misrepresentations it contained.
Sadly, nothing has changed since. If anything the Greens leadership has become even more hardline about HS2 – and even more dishonest. That’s often the problem when you get caught up in a lie. You either come clean and admit it or you double-down on it. The Greens have taken the latter course.
The truly sad thing is this lie completely undermines everything the Green Party is meant to stand for. Why? Well, the UK’s biggest emitter of carbon dioxide nowadays is transport. The details can be found in this Government paper. As it points out –
As such, you’d expect the GPEW to have a laser-like focus on cutting transport Co2 emissions, wouldn’t you?
Exactly the opposite. Because, whilst the Greens have a mealy-mouthed policy of supporting UK High-Speed rail ‘in principle’, they vehemently oppose it in practice. In other words, they’re nothing more than hypocrites. But they don’t just stop at hypocrisy. Take a look at this Tweet from Caroline Russell. “Who she?” I hear you ask? Well, amongst other things, Russell is the GPEW Spokesperson on Transport.
As you can see from Russell’s list of roles and the fact she lives in North London, this is no rural Green Party Councillor living out in the sticks, who cycles to local meetings in-between knitting her own yoghurt. Russell is at the centre of things and has access to transport experts and a wealth of knowledge. So how can she come out with something as unutterably stupid as this tweet?
As for the “shaving minutes” nonsense, let’s have a look at a few sample times.
Not only does this point out that HS2 will serve 8 out of 10 of our largest cities, it looks beyond Russell’s obsession with London and Birmingham to highlight some rather spectacular journey time cuts. For example, Birmingham to Manchester is cut by 52% and Birmingham to Leeds is cut by a whopping 58%. Rail’s market share on both these routes is small because the existing journey times are slow and the trains are cramped Cross-Country ‘Voyagers’ of 4-5 cars. The services via Leeds also start/finish way beyond the core route and are often crowded before they reach either location.
Such journey time cuts are ideal to get people out of their cars and onto trains -as will be the new trains as they’ll be far superior to the product on offer now. Then there’s the massive increase in capacity HS2 adds to the existing rail network (for both passenger and freight services) that’s the real winner, because without it our rail network can’t cope with any shift from road/air to rail. Remember, before the pandemic, our existing rail network was creaking at the seams as it tried to cope with record numbers of passengers travelling on record numbers of trains running. It simply couldn’t cope with huge numbers of new passengers.
But surely? That’s what the Greens want, isn’t it? If we’re going to get people and freight off roads to cut transport Co2 emissions we need to provide the rail capacity to be able to do it?
Not according to the GPEW! According to Russell, some local electric buses and a few more local trains will do it! Quite how we’re meant to fit those local trains through choke-points like Birmingham New St, Leeds or Manchester Piccadilly is never explained – because the Greens don’t do explanations. Nor do they listen to the experts who point these things out.
Russell’s tweet begs the question, is (despite her being the Green’s Transport Spokesperson) she spectacularly ignorant and ill-informed, or – is this deliberate misinformation? But it’s not just Russell, you’ll hear this misinformation from many other ‘Green’ leaders too – like Bartley, Jones, and Bennett. It’s endemic and institutionalised.
It illustrates exactly why I won’t touch the Green party with a barge-pole, and I’m not alone. Their blind dogma and refusal to deal with the fact their policy on the railways and HS2 in particular is a dishonest mess that actually prevents them being credible (never mind actually tackling Climate Change) is maddening, but it’s so deeply ingrained in them I believe the GPEW is a write-off.
Sad to say, if you want genuine Green solutions to tackle climate-change. Don’t vote Green…
David G said:
As a Leeds resident from the Midlands I cant reiterate enough how frustrating it is having such a long, infrequent journey to Brum. Sure, the Midland Mainline through the industrial wastelands of the Don Valley followed by the edges of the Peak District have a certain charm – but I think we’d rather whizz through them a bit quicker.
I am becoming more sold on HS2 the more I read – after all those 1979s HSTs can’t last forever!
Paul Bigland said:
Indeed. We really shouldn’t have such poor rail connections between two major cities like Leeds and Birmingham in this day and age – especially if we’re serious about getting people out of their cars. Of course, with HS2 we have two wins, because the capacity it frees up on the existing networks at notorious choke-points like Leeds and Birmingham New St stations will allow better regional connections to those cities too.