Once again the Independent shows that critical journalism is a dying art by publishing an article on a supposed “alternative” to Hs2 called High Speed UK. The article written by Dean Kirby is nothing better than one long advert for HSUK that looks like it’s been cobbled together from press releases ahead of Saturday’s talk in Birmingham that was sponsored by the Fabians.
Note that no-one other than HSUK has any input and the author hasn’t even bothered to corroborate any of HSUK’s dubious assertions – like the one that their plans are “fully costed” (they’re not) or that HSUK will be £20bn “cheaper” than HS2. Kirby goes on the write that “The scheme has the backing of campaign group re:think HS2. Other supporters include Greg Mulholland, Lib Dem MP for Leeds North West.”
So, who are re:thinkHs2? It’s a website & Twitter account with no registered address. The names associated with it are Neale Upstone (a former Lib-Dem candidate in Wolverhampton) and Stephen Stretton who appears to be an unknown. They have 240 Twitter followers. This is largely made up of the usual rag-bag of anti Hs2 mob accounts, a few fellow Lib-Dems and one or two folks there to keep an eye on them. Not exactly what you’d call an influential group.
As for their “other supporters” there’s only the Leeds Liberal Democrat MP Greg Mulholland and – err, that’s it. Oh, apart from arch anti Hs2 writer Christian Wolmar. Hardly a force to be reckoned with, although the recurring link to the Lib Dems is interesting.
The reality is that HSUK is a table-top operation that’s the brainchild of two people, Civil engineers Colin Elliff and Quentin Macdonald (interestingly, another Lib-Dem & ex-York Cllr) and – that’s your lot, really. There’s no organisation behind them. They’ve no backing from rail passenger of freight companies, industry bodies, financiers, Network Rail – or any of the political parties. All they have is a coterie of people who all appear to be Lib-Dems. Their idea isn’t even new. Elliff has been touting it around in different incarnations for years without any takers. See how many of their HSUK maps are copyright 2005! Those who have been around the transport debate will remember “High Speed North” – Elliff’s previous scheme which has been re-badged as HSUK.
This kitchen table plan is meant to force a rethink on Hs2? I don’t think so. Even Hyperloop has a better chance!
I can only assume it was a slow news day at the Independent.