Sorry for the lack of blogging recently folks. I’ve been so busy with my travels and catching up on work stuff I’ve had little time for writing. Still, here’s one I’ve been hoping to write for some time – a look at the anti Hs2 campaign after the election.
To be honest, antis had an even worse election campaign than I thought they would. Mind you – so did the Conservatives! Apart from the non-story that Joe Rukin put around, claiming the Tories were going add cancelling Hs2 to their manifesto nothing was really heard about the anti Hs2 campaign. Apparently, Hs2aa raised their arse off their sofa long enough to find a few bob down the back of it and pay for an ad in The Spectator, and – well, that was it. Stop Hs2 did little better. It’s evident that Joe Rukin and Penny Gaines are just going through the motions now. The Stop Hs2 website and Facebook page had nothing of relevance added and their tweets were sporadic. There was no attempt to actually lead a campaign. Instead it drifted, rudderless. But then, what is there to lead anymore? If you look at their Facebook page it has a measly 7,488 followers but the number of people who ‘like’ a post have never got above 200 throughout the whole election campaign. The number who share or comment is even poorer than that. Here’s a screen- grab of one of the more popular. This was posted on the 21st June. The screen-grab was taken today (27th).
Twitter was no better. Stophs2 have a lousy 5,369 followers. So, how many retweeted this same comment?
A miserable 21! In an election campaign!
This is a great illustration of what I’ve always said. Social media is a double-edged sword. It exposes your weaknesses as well as strengths.
In past elections they’ve also run a ‘no votes for you with Hs2’ campaign, but it’s always been an abject failure – as the results on election night show. This year was no different.
The phase 1 campaign is a dead man walking. I’ve blogged about it plenty of times in the past so I’m not going over old ground, but what was interesting this time was to see how quickly the Phase 2 campaign groups have collapsed.
Remember that the Leeds branch of Hs2 has (supposedly) the most ‘active’ anti groups on it. A number of new ones were formed due to route changes in Leicestershire, Notts and Yorkshire. So, lets have a look at some case studies.
MAPA is a group that was formed in February this year. Here’s their website. As you can see if you can be bothered to browse it. There’s not a lot going on. The residents of the villages they claim to represent total some 8,700 souls. Their minutes claim 110 turned up to their first meeting, which is 1.26% of all residents. Not exactly a groundswell then! Things haven’t got any better. Despite their commitment to publish regular minutes of meetings, nothing has appeared since January. Instead, this was sent out by the group in mid May…
The only sign of life is the barrage of pointless tweets from one of the group, Stephen Leary (who I’ve blogged about before here). I can’t help wondering how long this groups can survive. It’s already moribund and if the local area consultation shows that more residents support the route change than oppose it, they’re toast.
Meanwhile, in Nottinghamshire, we have the Erewash ‘Action’ Group. Here’s their website and Facebook pages. Here’s their ridiculously ambitious aims (copied from their website).
Stop Hs2 within 2 years and hold elected representatives to account? My! So, how’s that going then? Badly.
The local MP is Conservative Maggie Throup, who won the seat from Labour in 2015 with a 3,584 majority. Maggie is a supporter of Hs2 and she’s clearly no pushover as the Erewash antis have found out! Their agressive style and regular lack of honesty hasn’t gone down well with the MP who’s confronted them a number of times. Most recently here in response to this bit of bombast from the Erewash antis. Now, take note of this bit;
“In recent weeks, the STOP HS2 Erewash Campaign has gained huge momentum with an influx of new volunteers and supporters, as well as significant press coverage and public interest. The campaign is operated and staffed by concerned local residents, business owners and activists, who all feel strongly that HS2 should be stopped in its entirety.”
So, how did holding Maggie to ‘account’ go?
At the 2017 election she increased her majority from 3,584 to 4,534 on a swing of 0.84% from Labour! Oh dear…
Erewash antis went very quiet after their meeting with Maggie as it was clear it hadn’t gone their way (see their Facebook page for details). Well, quiet until today, when this was slipped out on Facebook:
So much for stopping Hs2 in 2 years by a campaign that had “gained huge momentum with an influx of new volunteers and supporters”. They’re very coy about the merger, but it’s actually with the nearby group from Trowell (who aren’t so coy!)
Trowell are another tiny group with a similar problem. They’ve no political clout either! The idea this creates a ‘unified nation campaign’ is the stuff of fantasy! Their MP is the feisty anti Brexit MP Anna Soubry (another Hs2 supporter). How a merged campaign across the constituency boundaries is supposed to Stop Hs2 is anyone’s guess, but then that’s the problem with these campaigns. They’re so out of their depth there’s only going to be one result. If they’d any sense they’d be working with their MPs to gain the greatest benefits for their areas from Hs2 instead of trying to throw around weight they don’t have, pretending they can Stop hs2.
So, that’s a snapshot of the state of play with StopHs2 after the election. It’s obviously on its last legs. Interestingly, the announcement in the Queens speech that the phase 2b Hybrid Bill will be put before Parliament hasn’t raised as much as a glimmer from any Staffs antis – although that’s hardly surprising. There’s not been a credible Hs2 ‘action’ groups in Staffs for years as they tended to be run by either ‘eccentrics’ or as a front for UKIP. Which brings me neatly onto the other fall-out from the election campaign.
Remember when UKIP said they’d Stop Hs2?
Instead, voters stopped UKIP! Now there’s only one party left in Parliament that still opposes Hs2. The Greens – and they’ve still only got 1 MP….