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As I’m busy with other things and I’ll be busy reporting on positive progress with building the new HS2 railway I haven’t paid what passes for a campaign to stop Hs2 much attention recently. Mainly because it’s collapsed into a farce. Yes, there’s still four or five people holed up in a tunnel at Wendover, waiting to be dug out by bailiffs. But as they’re not even in the way of HS2 construction and aren’t achieving anything, what’s the point? Their few friends are realising no-one else is interested either, so spend their time trying to drum up support by pretending this self-isolation is somehow heroic rather than what it really is. Dumb and pointless.

The eviction of the Wendover camp brought an end to the protest camp network, depriving those involved of refuges. Now, many of the tiny hard-core have drifted away. The arrival of winter’s speeded up that retreat. Oh, a few still turn up to HS2 compound gates to wave flags and video themselves before buggering off again, pretending they’ve actually achieved something, but it’s painfully obvious to any impartial observer this is just window-dressing as there’s over 300 active HS2 worksites and less than three dozen regular proteters.

So, like StopHS2 before them, HS2Rebellion have little left other than social media. They try to keep up the pretense of actually doing things by posting whatever they can find that’s critical of HS2, or even high-speed rail per se. Because this was never really about ‘green’ issues at all. Like Extinction Rebellion they’re an offshoot of – this is all about politics, not the environment. XR and HS2rebellion are (laughably) all about trying to bring down capitalism and democracy which they want to replace with the ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ through citizens assembly’s. Or in other words, they want power.

There’s one huge problem. They’re politically inept and hopelessly naïve. Many of them have as little understanding of politics as they do of real environmentalism. Their ideology’s a mess, as is their knowledge of the real world influencers (who aren’t who they think). Here’s an example. Yesterday HS2rebellion published this on their Facebook page.

Apart from the fact this obviously nails their colours to the anti-rail mast, you have to ask, did any of them bother to check who the Cato Institute is, what its beliefs are, or who funds it? Clearly not.

Why, because the Cato Institute is (yet another) right-wing, libertarian lobby group that’s been prominent and influential in spreading climate-change denial! It was set up and bankrolled by the Koch Brothers (Charles and David) in 1977. The brothers are (or were, David died in 2019) some of the richest people in the world. Their company, Koch Industries is the largest privately held company in the USA. It made its money through oil. For decades, the brothers have used their massive wealth to gain political and social influence, shaping American (and thus world) policy on a number of fronts which includes trying to undermine efforts to tackle climate change, opposing public transport projects (like high-speed rail) and pouring money into numerous conservative political campaigns. Friends of the environment they’re not. All this is well-documented and anyone with a real interest in these issues has known about the Koch brothers for donkey’s years.

But not HS2rebellion – who’re happy to promote the ideology of the climate-change deniers and puff their influence through advertising the ‘think-tanks’ they fund!

Mind you, HS2rebellion aren’t alone in this. Many supposed ‘greens’ are happy to promote similar propaganda from the UK version of the Cato, the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), another bunch of right-wing lobbyists masquerading as an educational organisation as a cover for what they really are – a bunch of political lobbyists.

Rather foolishly, the IEA complained about the broadcaster James O’Brien for calling them out. The OFCOM judgement is worth reading as – not only was the complaint thrown out – the judgement exposed the IEA for what they really are. You can read it here.

At the behest of their anonymous paymasters (the IEA refuse to come clean on who funds them) the IEA also engage in trying to undermine action on Climate Change. Here’s an example. This bunch of nonsense has appeared on the website of ‘Transport Watch’.

But who are ‘Transport Watch’? Well, until recently they were one man – Paul Withrington, a retired road planner who was obsessed with the idea that all the UKs railways should be tarmac’d over and replaced by fleets of coaches. It was quite mad and no matter how many times Withrington was challenged on the maths and the physics of the idea he was so obsessed nothing could convince him he wasn’t talking out of a fundamental orifice. Withrington used to turn up at events like Infrarail in the hope of buttonholing Ministers to press his lunacy but most saw him coming and managed to avoid him. Needless to say, Withrington was grist to the mill for the lobbyists of the IEA and fell in with their risibly named ‘Head of Transport’, Richard Wellings – a man who’s never held a proper job in his life – much less had any frontline experience in transport. The pair of them co-authored an IEA paper called ‘paving over the tracks’ in 2015. It’s completely crazy of course, but he who pays the piper…

Withrington died in January 2021 and it appears that he bequeathed his baby to the IEA, because who’s name is on the bottom of that climate change denialism and scaremongering? Yep, one Richard Wellings. ‘Transport Watch’ seems to be a way for the IEA to publish even more loony conspiracy theories in an attempt to undermine the fight against global warming whilst trying to maintain plausible deniability. In fact, the only articles that have appeared on the TW website have all been authored by Wellings. I’m not going to give them the pleasure of a boost by providing a link to their website, but if you’re really curious it’s easy to find and verify everything I’ve said about them.

These are just some examples of why I’ve long held the belief that much of what passes for a UK ‘green’ movement simply isn’t fit for purpose. They’re tone-deaf and utterly unable to tell when they’re being played by the far smarter and much more intelligent right-wing, which would be funny if it wasn’t so dangerous and damaging. The fact UK ‘greens’ are doing the climate-change deniers and oil and roads lobby’s job for them by opposing green public transport shows just how screwed-up this country is nowadays. Their European (and Scottish) cousins are far more savvy. Sadly, we’re lumbered with the dogmatic and disconnected likes of Baroness (“I like trains, me”) Jenny Jones, and the demagogues of Extinction Rebellion gluing themselves to or opposing us building public transport. What a time to be alive…

Meanwhile, we have the fun and games up at COP26, where Extinction rebellion protesters arrived by train. Here’s the ‘Red rebels’ on Glasgow Central earlier this week after arriving from London. These are the very same ‘rebels’ who could be seen protesting at HS2 construction sites.

‘cos dressing up in red rags and opposing HS2 is obviously going to save the planet…

An irony that is completely lost on these people is the very railway they’ve been protesting against would (by slashing Anglo–Scottish journey times) be a viable alternative to Europe’s busiest domestic aviation routes, those from Aberdeen/Glasgow/Edinburgh to the London airports as this graph makes clear.

You can find lots more information on Anglo-Scottish air traffic from Chris Ogilvie (@Ogilvie_CJ) on Twitter.

I’ll be back in Scotland next week for more COP26 rail related activities, so watch out for other blogs. Needless to say – unlike our Prime Minister – I’ll be letting the train, not the airlines take the strain…

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