Yet again social media has rather blown up in the faces of those opposed to HS2. This time because of an unguarded comment by one of their own. You may remember they’ve been desperate to talk up the opposition to HS2 on the ground by pretending there’s some sort of groundswell of opposition that’s seen protest camps spring up all over the phase 1 route of HS2. Of course (as usual) the truth is rather different. Students of history may remember the way Allied forces in World War 2 used inflatable models of tanks and aircraft to fool enemy reconnaissance aircraft. Stop Hs2 seemed to be trying the same stunt at Harvil Rd by setting up tents, hoping that people might then assume there were more protesters than there really were. When the Bailiffs arrived to evict the camp they counted over two dozen tents and structures. There was only one problem (for the protestors at least). Sod-all were occupied. How do we know? Firstly, because all the video’s released of the evictions by the protesters show hardly any protestors present. Then this slipped out on Facebook today.
“only seven people were on site”…
Not exactly what you’d call much of a protest, is it? Just seven people, and two of them are the same old names – Mark Kier and Sarah Green. That leaves just five others holding the ‘fort’ (and I use that term loosely) as those two are often away playing silly buggers at stunts/court appearances around London, or when Kier was meant to be election campaigning in Uxbridge!
Considering that Harvil Rd is a stones throw from London, this is the best they can do? Half a dozen people and a few ‘weekend warriors’? Yet over 2.5 million people live in the constituencies Phase 1 of HS2 passes through.
Whichever way you cut it, it’s clear these protests are not going to stop HS2 in the slightest. They’re more like flea-bites, minor irritations that are soon dealt with. Many of them, like Chris Packham’s middle-class stroll along a muddy footpath with a few hundred people the other week, are just PR stunts, not a serious attempt to interfere in the building of HS2.
I can’t see the other four camps having any greater success as the same will happen. One day the Bailiff’s and Police will turn up without warning to take possession of the land and then it’s ‘Goodnight Vienna’ for the protest.
Somehow, I don’t think anyone in the corridors of power, or at the Department of Transport in Westminster or HS2 Ltd in Birmingham are going to be losing much sleep over these protests. Apparently, this coming weekend a four day long series of protests is meant to be held at what’s left of the Harvil Rd camp in a classic example of shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted!
Talking of protests, there’s also this one in London on January 22nd, although I can’t see this setting the world alight either. I’ll be interested to see how many people actually bother turning up.
Meanwhile, in the real world, a decision from the Government on giving HS2 the go-ahead is expected any time now. The latest round of speculation is that the Oakervee review and the go-ahead for HS2 will be announced at the same time at the beginning of February, just after the UK has formally left the EU and the clock begins ticking on the transition period. Let’s face it, the Government’s going to be desperate for some good economic news once that happens and announcing the fact we’re going ahead with HS2 would fit the bill.
It’s now 24 hours since the Bailiffs successfully evicted the protestors from the Stop Hs2 ‘protest’ camp at Harvil Rd just outside Ruislip, West London. For those not familiar with the area or what’s happening, here’s a map.
The two circles show the extent of the work that the protestors have utterly failed to stop. The field which contained their little camp is marked with an X. Just out of the picture to the right is Ruislip, in the opposite direction is Denham Country Park.
Since the eviction the StopHs2 website and antis social media pages have been full of utter nonsense about the legality of the eviction. Their supporters have been spreading the mischievous myth that this was illegal as the protestors were protected from eviction by Section 6 of the Criminal Law Act 1977. This is an old squatters favourite as it protected them from unlawful eviction. Section 6 was enacted to stop unscrupulous landlords who (on finding one of their properties had been squatted) would get a few blokes together and turf out the squatters without resorting to the hassle of going through the time-consuming process of taking legal action in the courts. Back in the 1970s when squatting was a big thing illegal evictions were a real problem and various legal groups lobbied the Government to give legal protection to squatters to stop it happening – hence Section 6. as an aside, the 1977 CLA’s an interesting bit of legislation because of some of its other provisions. Section 52 redefined cannabis to include cannabis resin after a successful appeal due to a loophole in the 1971 MODA (Misuse of Drugs Act 1971). See R v Goodchild .
When my properties (see below) were squatted you’d often find that the squatters had a printed S6 notice stuck to the front door, thinking this was some sort of magic charm that protected them from eviction. It didn’t. It merely made it illegal to evict them without due process and a court order executed with a warrant by officers of the court (Bailiffs). Of course, since the 1977 CLA, the eviction process has been speeded up considerably, but the anti HS2 protesters seem to think they’re still living back in the 1970s-80s!
I have to admit to a certain amount of interest and previous experience here. In a previous life back in the 1990s I was a Housing Officer for the London Borough of Tower Hamlets before taking on the same role at Tower Hamlets Housing Action Trust when 3 estates in Bow (E London) were transferred to that organisation. Evictions were part of my job and I (along with the County Court bailiffs) carried out many over the years. One day, if I ever get the time I’ll blog about some of the stories, which whilst both funny and tragic they’re worth relating. But I digress.
Here’s the latest misinformation and spin on the Stop Hs2 website from that renowned ‘legal expert’ Joe Rukin.
There’s only one problem with this. Joe is completely clueless about the reality of the law. As I pointed out earlier, S6 only protects people from illegal eviction.
This was not an illegal eviction.
Why? Because it was carried out under the conditions of a Compulsory Purchase Order. The fact the squatters claimed they allegedly had ‘permission’ from the previous tenant is irrelevant, they didn’t have it from the new owners of the land. In yesterday’s blog I linked to an excellent explanation in plain English of CPO powers in this situation. You can find it here. But in this blog I’ll make it easier by copying it and spelling out the relevant sections. The beauty of this link is it describes enforcing a CPO in EXACTLY these circumstances.
So, let’s rebut (point by point) the StopHs2 claims.
“protestors had legal occupation of the land under the Criminal Law Act 1977”.
No. They didn’t. the 1977 CLA only provides protection from illegal eviction. It doesn’t confer any right to occupation. By purchasing the land from the previous owners under a CPO HS2 Ltd had legal rights over the land, not the protestors. All it means is that HS2 Ltd had to go through due process to remove the protestors from the land, which they did.
“today HS2 Ltd decided they could evict the entire camp under Compulsory Purchase Oder (sic) powers, despite the supposed protection of the CLA, which suggests this is an illegal eviction“.
It ‘suggests’ nothing of the sort. Rukin doesn’t understand the CLA, or the powers granted by a CPO.
“In this video, the man in charge of the eviction admits there is no eviction order, and the eviction is being conducted under a compulsory purchase order, despite the fact the land is covered by a notice of occupation under the Criminal Law Act”.
Here we go again…
Forget the CPA, we’ve already dealt with that. “there is no eviction order” because no notice is required, as the guidance explains. In fact the Bailiff went to great pains to explain his powers in detail (as the video on the StopHs2 Facebook page shows). The only problem is the likes of Sarah Green and Rukin simply weren’t listening!
The acquiring authority may apply to a justice of the peace to a warrant which will entitle them to exercise the power given in the CPO. The justice of the peace can only issue the warrant authorising the use of force if he or she is satisfied that persons are preventing or are likely to prevent entry and that it is reasonable to use force to remove them.
Once the warrant has been issued, this is the instruction to the HCEO to deliver possession of the land to the acquiring authority. No other court order is required.
The warrant confers the powers the HCEO will need to execute it, including the right to enter the land or premises and to use reasonable force. The HCEO will be wholly responsible and personally liable for the execution of the warrant.
So, the warrant having been issued, there’s no need to give advance warning of its execution and enforcement. Why? This explains.
Whilst the acquiring authority does have to give notice of the CPO and their intention to take possession (via a notice to treat or a vesting declaration), the HCEO is not obliged to give notice of the enforcement of the warrant.
However, should the circumstances indicate that it would be more appropriate to serve notice, perhaps because children are on the premises, then they can do so. In the case of protesters, particularly environmental protesters, serving notice might carry the risk of more protesters being brought onto the site.
This last sentence spells out exactly why no notice is needed or was given.
As for this nonsense about the police acting illegally by not intervening. Here’s the reality. The police have a statutory duty to assist.
The police has a statutory duty to assist the HCEO when executing either a High Court writ or a compulsory purchase order warrant – Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 sec 140 (10).
Hopefully people will find this useful in dispelling the StopH2 myth-making, disinformation and spin around these evictions. I doubt it’ll have any influence on the protestors themselves, many of whom seem to live in an alternate universe to the rest of us judging by the stuff they’ve been coming out with, but this is why they’re on to a loser. Their bubble bursts when it comes into contact with the real world – especially the legal world!
Not that this stops some of StopHs2’s supporters coming out with some hilarious, paranoid old rubbish and conspiracy theories that really are away with the fairies. Take this example from the StopH2 Facebook page today.
Quite how this tinfoil-hat nonsense is meant to Stop Hs2 is a mystery. Sadly, it is a good illustration that we have a real problem in this country with people peddling rubbish and who really can’t tell fact from fiction. Here’s another absolute classic from the StopHs2 Facebook page!
Oh, the irony!
This afternoon various Facebook groups were still spreading rubbish about the legality of the eviction (and more), like this one. But notice how few people have shared it, never mind actually responded.
On that note I thought I’d conclude this blog with a picture taken at the last Facebook friends of StopHs2 annual meeting…
Earlier this morning the Court Bailiffs and police moved in to evict the oldest and largest of the StopH2 protest camps at Harvil Rd near Uxbridge. You can view the farce via a video posted on the StopHs2 website here.
It’s interesting for several reasons. Firstly, it shows how few people are actually there. Whilst there’s a rag-bag of 20 odd tents very few of them seem to be occupied. It’s like they’ve been left there by ‘weekend warriors’ just to make the camp look bigger and busier than it really is. In fact, very few protestors can be seen on camera, just the same old faces such as Mark Keir, the serially failed Green Party candidate, plus Sarah Green, the ‘star’ of various PR stunts the antis have tried to pull. One of the things I found fascinating about these videos was just how poorly prepared these camps were for the arrival of the Bailiffs. They knew they would come one day, so what the hell have they been doing these past two years? Remember the old days when protesters dug tunnels to hide in and had aerial ropeways between treehouses so they could resist for as long as possible and make life as difficult as they could for the police and bailiffs? This camp was a shambles in comparison, a few scattered tents and pallets used as walkways across the mud. It looked more like the place where people went to hang out, drink beers and smoke dope whilst recording endless boring social media video’s where they’d bluster about how they were going to stop Hs2.
In the background to the videos you can hear what the protesters have utterly failed to stop – HS2 contractors continuing to build access roads for construction of HS2.
As usual, you have people like Green trying to argue black is white with the Court Bailiff, claiming that the eviction is ‘illegal’. Unsurprisingly, the Bailiff refuses to get drawn into a pointless argument. As it’s now almost afternoon and no more videos have appeared – much less a victorious one from the protesters) it’s probably safe to assume that they’re too busy packing their bags! I’ll update this blog when I have more news.
There’s an even more telling video which stophs2 haven’t put up on their website but you can view it on their Facebook page. It’s a 22 minute long cameraphone video filmed by Mark Keir. You can find it here. In it, you can hear him describing the police and bailiffs as ‘scum’, whilst (hypocritically) being nice as pie to people’s faces. In contrast, the Court Officers are unfailingly polite and helpful, offering the maximum co-operation and concern for the protesters whilst executing their duties and the court order. There’s an even more ridiculous video from Sarah Green here where Green rants on and on about the eviction being ‘illegal’ like a broken record as a protestor is restrained and removed with police observing. I can’t help but think of the old expression “Barrack-room Lawyer” every time I hear Green spout. Meanwhile the man being removed calls everyone “scum” and “criminals” in between his theatrical screams. What Green and the others completely failed to understand (despite the Bailiff explaining it to then very patiently) was that he was enforcing the eviction under the terms of a Compulsory Purchase Order warrant and this confers the legal right to evict them and no notice or ‘eviction order’ is necessary. A good clear explanation of the law regarding CPO evictions in exactly these circumstance is here.
In his video Keir constantly calls for assistance from imaginary Facebook/social media friends, bemoaning the fact that there are so few people at the camp as Twyford Down this ain’t! One of the great weaknesses of these protests is they’ve always been tiny in comparison to the efforts of the anti road building protests of the 1980s-90s. Partly because the protesters have fallen for their own social media hype. They’ve confused Twitter trolls and keyboard warriors with genuine support, then are incredulous when these ‘people’ fail to materialise in real life! There’s something else that’s telling. I’ve always said that social media is a double-edged sword. It can expose your weaknesses or highlight your strengths. As always with the anti HS2 campaign, it’s the former, not the latter. Look how few views or comments any of these videos posted to social media have!
Is this the end for the Harvil Rd protest? Probably. I doubt there’s anywhere else left for them to set up camp nearby without them rapidly being evicted. No doubt some of them may drift off to another of the handful of poorly supported camps on the route, but the end result will be the same. What have they stopped? Nothing.
Meanwhile, the Government has announced that infrastructure will be one of the main planks of its policies over the next Parliamentary term. Chancellor Savid Javid has promised an ‘infrastructure revolution’ in his March budget. Now, does that sound like a Government that’s about to cancel HS2 to you? Can you seriously imagine Javid standing up in a packed House of Commons to say “I would like to talk to you about my infrastructure revolution, but first I’d like to announce that I’m cancelling the biggest infrastructure project in Western Europe!”
The protesters friend in the media have now picked up on the story with The Guardian carrying it on their website. According to the Graun’, three protesters were arrested during the eviction. I’m assuming these will be for obstruction, so unless they’ve done something really stupid they’ll probably be released without charge as there’s little point in wasting the police and courts time prosecuting them – which is no bad thing. Misguided they may be, but they have a right to protest as long as they stay within the law and it’s important that right is upheld in a democracy.
Harvil Rd camp was the biggest and oldest of all five anti HS2 protest camps. It was set up in October 2017 but it’s achieved nothing. It’s never stopped work on the site, merely delayed it a few times. It certainly hasn’t stopped HS2. All it’s really achieved is keep a tiny corner of social media alive with pointless videos, polemics, conspiracy theories and fake news.
The irony of the Guardian covering this is that the newspaper has a very good gallery of the Twyford Down protests in 1992-93. These were against the building of the new M3 motorway and they really put today’s tiny StopHs2 ‘direct action’ protests into perspective. You can find the gallery here.
I suspect this setback is going to be quite an important one for the anti HS2 campaign. ‘Direct action’ was their last resort, but it’s clear that the number have never amount to anything more than a minor nuisance. With the forthcoming announcement on HS2 going ahead expected very soon this could well break the back of what’s left of their campaign. Whilst a few stragglers may remain around the camp it’s clear that their days are numbered as they’ve completely failed in their objectives. It seems some of the locals will be glad to see the back of them too, as this comment on the StopHs2 Facebook page to todays news shows!
Looks like StopHs2’s Joe Rukin better stop playing at being ‘Swampy’ and redouble his efforts to look for a real job!
‘Celebrity environmentalist’ Chris Packham had arranged yet another stophs2 protest to ‘save’ the trees. You know, the one’s he’s never been honest with people about and continually made up numbers regarding. Like the claim HS2’s causing the greatest deforestation since WW1 (tosh I exposed here). Or that 108 woods will be ‘destroyed’ by HS2 (they won’t, as I exposed here). His latest numerical flight of fancy was to claim that his little campaign has 5 million ‘supporters’ – as can be seen mentioned on the box he handed in to Downing St in this picture.
Where this number came from is as mysterious as all his other made up numbers. It has no basis in reality, but then a lot of what Packham claims fits into that category.
Clearly, with such vast support, the ramble from Denham today must have brought the place to a standstill as all those supporters rallied to his flag, no? After all, Denham is less than 20 mins by train from London Marylebone and it’s right in the Nimby heartlands on phase 1 which is supposedly united in its opposition to HS2.
Even Packham’s been forced to admit that the turnout has been pretty abysmal. He’s claimed “over 1000”, which seems remarkably generous judging by the pictures appearing on Twitter. Here’s a selection. First up, Packham’s tweet.
Still, never mind. This must be trending on Twitter and across social media, right? I mean, 5 million people pumping this out will make a huge impact, won’t it?
Like hell. The #rethinkHs2 hashtag’s got nowhere! Meanwhile, over on the Stophs2 Facebook page, there’s one or two more revealing videos that show just how few have turned up. You can find them here.
To put all this nonsense in perspective. Many millions of us repeatedly marched against Brexit. Did we succeed? So, how will this little circus stop Hs2?
The really sad thing here is the way Packham and the other single-issue campaigners like the Woodland Trust are exploiting people for their own ends. None of this is going to stop Hs2 in the slightest, it’s basically a cheap publicity stunt for Packham and his friends where he’s exploited his ‘celebrity’ to suck people into believing the nonsense he spouts. My frustration is the way people are being misled over the true impact of HS2 and the fact they’re not actually protecting anything in the long term, exactly the opposite in fact.
Without HS2 we simply don’t have the rail capacity for the future to get people & freight off roads and cut transport Co2 emissions to tackle global Climate Change. Stopping HS2 isn’t ‘green’. This is the classic example of not being able to see the woods for the trees and the oil companies and road lobby must be rubbing their hands in glee at how easy it is to get ‘greens’ to do their work for them. Packham offers no solutions. He has none, because it’s always easier to oppose things and leave solutions to others. Here’s something else he doesn’t tell you. Here’s all that woodland ‘destruction’ put into perspective when you compare it to just a single road scheme in SE England. Of course, the LTC would have been greater than HS2 until the Woodland Trust mysteriously upped their figure from 40.2 ha when someone drew their attention to it, without providing a shred of evidence to back up or explain the increase. Funny, that…
One last thing that made me laugh about today? The complete absence of pictorial or other evidence that any of the remaining StopHs2 Twitter trolls managed to drag their sorry arses away from their keyboards and out of their armchairs to be there – even the ones within a 20 mile radius. They may rant on social media, but that’s all they do…
With the last result declared, Johnson’s Government now has a clear majority of 80. He no longer needs the backing of parties like the DUP and it waters down the influence of special interest groups or rebels.
As I predicted, the StopHs2 campaign had a lousy election. Long on bluster, they’ve always been short of any serious political influence and this is obvious in the results. They were never a genuine threat to any MPs on the route. A good example is on the phase 2b route at Erewash where Maggie Throup, the local Tory MP has always made her support for HS2 plain. Despite the fact their was a vociferous anti Hs2 candidate standing against her for the Green Party (Brent Poland) and there’s a local Stophs2 ‘action’ group she increased her majority by 4.4%!
Meanwhile, over in Bolsover, the prominent anti-HS2 MP and Labour veteran, Dennis Skinner lost his seat! What’s been crystal clear is that the big issue has been Brexit, not Hs2.
Here’s a bit of number crunching. Of the 41 MPs who voted against Hs2 Phase 1 back In 2014, just 20 of them are still MPs. Plus, 7 of those 20 actually voted FOR Hs2 phase 2a! Whilst a few new MPs have stated their opposition it doesn’t affect the numbers. For example. Labour’s John Barron in Rother Valley who was opposed to HS2 has been replaced by a Tory MP with the same stance. Some of the new Tory MPs in the Chilterns are making noises about HS2, but it’s nothing more than posturing to keep some of the locals happy. Phase 1 is a done deal, there are no more votes in Parliament to be had.
Where does this leave HS2? Johnson’s Conservatives made big inroads into the Labour heartland of the North and Midlands. He now has to deliver on his promises to the people who’ve lent him their votes. He’s promised to ‘level the field’ between North and South and invest in infrastructure. Cancelling HS2 would send entirely the wrong message to people who have bought into his promises. He can’t ‘get Brexit done’ and he needs their votes again in five years time. With Hs2 (and NPR) he can at least offer them something tangible.
During the election campaign Johnson made it clear that he’d go along with the recommendations of the Oakervee review of HS2. As the leaked report shows Oakervee recommends building HS2 in its entirety. Does anyone seriously expect Johnson to cancel it? There might be some tweaks to the Phase 2b route, but it’s worth remembering that another scheme Johnson backs (Northern Powerhouse Rail) will share 50% of Hs2 Phase 2’s tracks. You won’t get one without the other.
Of course, Johnson’s government could cut the cost of HS2 by renegotiating some of the construction contracts which have loaded on costs due to the transfer of risk from Hs2 to the contractors, which would make a lot of sense and save billions, making him popular all round and pull the rug from under the remaining HS2 objectors.
My prediction is that we’ll see Hs2 phase 1 get the go-ahead very quickly to end the uncertainty and Phase 2a resume its course through the Lords. What’s left of the StopHs2 campaign has no serious political influence and Johnson has a lot on his plate. The last thing he needs now is to fight a needless battle with Northern and Midlands leaders by scrapping any of HS2.
Despite all their bluster it’s clear that one group are having a lousy election and that’s what’s left of the StopHs2 ‘campaign’. For years they’ve tried to pretend they have the support of the majority of the public and that HS2 is an election issue. Their problem is that every election since 2010 has proved that’s nothing but hot air. This election’s no different.
There’s been no daft #NoVotesForYouWithHS2 hashtag on Twitter this year, nor any StopHs2 adverts in newspapers or magazines as the ‘campaign’ is skint. What there has been has been reduced to some ludicrous bluster on Twitter. Here’s a couple of examples.
“Hundreds of thousands” eh? Well that should give the Greens and Brexit party a bounce in the polls, eh?
Meanwhile, there’s this rubbish from one Stephen Leary who lives in Measham, NW Leics and fancies himself as a political pundit!
Leary’s bored Twitter to death by telling people in constituencies miles away from the Hs2 route who they can vote for to oppose HS2 – as if they haven’t got more important things on their minds this election! I’m sure they’ve been talking about nothing else in Worcester, Woolwich or Wood Green! I mean, forget Brexit, or the NHS. Well, in Leary’s febrile imagination that’s what they’re doing anyway! Meanwhile, in the real world, the ‘Britain Elects’ website has been monitoring the standing of the parties in the many polls. Here’s their summary from yesterday.
So much for Deeley’s “hundreds of thousands” of HS2 antis and Leary’s desperate digging up of political no-hopers like the SDP (who? Ed). The two national parties who oppose HS2, the Greens and Brexit party are languishing at the bottom of the chart. How many seats are they projected to win? None at all. The Greens will hang on to their one existing South Coast seat whilst the Brexit party won’t win anything anywhere.
So much for all the bluster! Hs2 antis have supplied all the bounce of a dead cat to the parties that oppose HS2! Whichever party or parties form the next Government support building the new railway.
Something else HS2 anti have been reticent to mention is this interview Boris Johnson gave to the Metro newspaper. It says.
“BORIS JOHNSON has said he will back HS2 — as long as the Oakervee Review does so too.“
As the leaked draft of the Oakervee report does exactly that, I think we can see which way the wind’s blowing – the direction that’s going to take the wind out of Stophs2’s sails completely…
Yesterday the Green party and StopHs2 held a joint demonstration outside the Department of Transport in London. To say it was a bit of a flop is an understatement. The event was widely advertised on social media by anti Hs2 groups and the Green party – for all the good it did. Here’s an example.
Notice that 27 people claim to have attended? This is a piss-poor number when you consider the number of people who supposedly oppose HS2. As is my habit, let’s crunch some numbers to get a bit of perspective.
Over 6.5 million people live in the 63 Parliamentary constituencies HS2 will pass through.
The Green Party are estimated to have a membership of 48,500.
StopHs2 have 11,849 Facebook followers. Many of whom will have seen this leaflet.
Now, allowing for the fact there’s clearly crossover between these different groups, you’d expect a reasonable turn-out, wouldn’t you? Especially as the demonstration was taking place in Central London, thus within easy reach of many of those supposedly up in arms about HS2, No?
No. Here’s a few pictures from the event, which was timed to take place between 3-4pm. The first one is the sort of tightly-cropped pictures that you’ll see the media use, making it look like there’s actually something going on.
Here’s what the media won’t show you. This is a view of the full event, which shows you just how pathetically small is was! I count a total of 15 people, including 3 members of the media. Even the police didn’t bother showing up! The only security is a couple of DfT staff stood discretely in the background.
Here’s another shot, after the media had left but including one innocent passer-by on her phone. This is the best both the ‘combined might’ of the Green party and StopHs2 can do – in Central London! Quite where the others out of the 27 who claimed to have gone were is a mystery. But then it’s like the social media ‘keyboard warriors’ who spend all their time ranting about Hs2 on Twitter or Facebook – but never get out of their armchairs when it comes to doing anything else.
Here’s a short video, just in case stills aren’t convincing enough!
I’ve not seen any media coverage of this as I’m assuming it wasn’t considered newsworthy, which is hardly surprising. Bartley gave a speech to camera in which he trotted out the usual scaremongering nonsense about ‘ecocide’ and ‘concreting over’ the countryside. mark Keir also spoke to the camera. What he said was more interesting because of what he let slip. He appealed for more people to turn up to the Uxbridge protests because they’re desperately short of bodies on the ground. If you follow his and the other protesters farcical antics on Facebook it’s easy to see why!
The whole protest reveals something about the UK green party, which is that they’ve very little credibility as anything more than a protest group – which is clearly what they’re happiest being. They have several credibility issues, one of which is the calibre of their candidates and Mark Kier is a good example of this. I’ve no doubt of his commitment, but there are serious questions about his fitness to be a candidate. OK, it’s fair to say that the whole Brexitshambles has exposed the fact Parliament has more than it’s fair share of people with the intellect of an amoeba on both sides of the floor, but the Greens are meant to be offering something better. Here’s an earlier blog of Kier giving an interview. Does this sound like someone you’d like representing you in Parliament? remember, he stood in Uxbridge in 2017 and managed to reduce the size of the Green vote!
I’ve no idea how the Green Party chooses its candidates, but I have to say they really need to up their game if they expect to be taken seriously. That said, their ridiculous ‘co-leader’ policy doesn’t help either. It may play well to the membership, but out in the real world? Oh, please…
The tragedy of all this is the UK desperately needs a credible Green party, but this lot ain’t it. When I see the impact their German counterparts have on politics I do go green – but only with envy! The German party manages to grapple with national and international issues whilst the UK party is obsessed with localism and can’t actually see the woods for the trees, hence their mad opposition to HS2, because the hard truth is without HS2 we simply don’t have the rail capacity for the future to get people and freight off roads and cut transport Co2 emissions to tackle Climate Change. Stopping HS2 isn’t ‘green’, it’s exactly the opposite.
The past couple of days have seen news come out that will have the remaining folks opposed to HS2 either crying into their cornflakes or banging the breakfast table in frustration. More realistically, a few of them will take to social media to spout the usual inane or splenetic nonsense they’ve been trotting out on an endless loop for years. But enough of them, let’s look at what really matters.
A new independent report has been published that was commissioned by High Speed Rail Industry Leaders (HSRIL) and produced by Ralph Smyth, the man who formerly led the Campaign to Protect Rural England’s (CPRE) engagement on HS2. Called ‘HS2 – towards a zero carbon future’. Amongst a number of things, it looks at the most recent evidence of how much carbon will be generated by building HS2, how HS2 is crucial to the Government hitting its zero carbon target by 2050. It counters many of the myths and canards spread by HS2 antis with forensic precision, expert data and facts. Here’s some excerpts. You can download the full report here.
This completely demolishes the antis propaganda that HS2 will be carbon positive for the next 120 years. The report goes on to say…
This highlights something that those who’re opposed to HS2 resolutely refuse to face, the fact that they have no credible alternative to HS2. The report hammers this home on a number of occasions in different ways, such as this, pointing out that HS2 has the same capacity as a 10-lane motorway. So, which would you prefer running through the countryside?
The report goes on to detail why the original (pessimistic ) calculations of how much carbon would be generated by building HS2 are woefully out of date now many aspects of the route design and construction has been finalised.
The last paragraph pointing out the tiny amount of ancient woodland being lost is “remarkable” puts the Woodland Trusts scaremongering into perspective. I’ve blogged about the WT’s dishonesty and distorted figures here.
Another common anti complaint about the speed of HS2 is neatly skewered here…
I’d recommend reading the full report as there’s an awful lot more in it. I just wish the Green party would do so but they’re too dogmatic and hidebound to do so, which is a great shame as this report exposes (in great detail) just why their opposition to HS2 make them part of the problem, not the solution to Climate Change. We desperately need a change of policy from them if they’re going to retain any credibility, but they’re very good at finger-wagging and lousy at listening.
To add further to Hs2 antis woes today’s Times newspaper has published what it claims is a draft copy of the Oakervee review into HS2. Spread over the lower part of the cover and pages 6-7 (plus the pro HS2 Leader on page 29 it’s a well written and in-depth article. The gist of it is that there will be no major changes proposed to HS2 and speculation that the Eastern arm to Leeds would be axed was incorrect. However, earlier suggestions that Phase 1 and 2a should be merged have been accepted. The report reinforces the HSRIL report on the carbon benefits of building HS2, the lack of any credible alternatives and also stresses the positive economic impacts to the North of building the full Y network. It also suggests that Oakervee is keen to see an updated business case that look much further into the future than the current conservative modelling which cut off after 60 years. There is one very curious assertion contained in the page 1 story (albeit carried on to page 7). It claims “Hs2 is due to run through Uxbridge and South Ruislip, the seat Mr Johnson held (held? He still does! Ed), where the StopHS2 campaign has 5000 supporters” Sorry? It has what? This seems to be a glaring typo as the StopHs2 ‘campaign’ doesn’t even have an active action group in the constituency! They’ve clearly confused StopHs2 ‘support’ with Johnson’s 5034 majority at the last election! Here’s how many people in Uxbridge signed the last StopHs2 petition. Just 232!
Needless to say, these leaks have sent the remaining HS2 antis into a meltdown on social media, although the reaction’s very subdued compared to previous years for the simple reason that so many of them have given up and moved on, figuratively and literally! Another interesting thing is the way there are far more pro HS2 voices sticking their heads above the parapet nowadays, and these are organisations with both a physical and political reach, like this tweet from Adam Marshall the DG of the British Chambers of Commerce.
Add Henri Murison, Director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership.
In contrast, we have the usual infantile ramblings from individual Nimbys opposed to HS2, along with a few hastily reprogrammed pro-Brexit bots like this!
Quite how this tiny band of Nimbys and pro-Brexiters are going to stop HS2 is never adequately explained. Mainly because they have absolutely no idea, they’re just going through the same motions that they have for years. They’ve no political clout and their organisation’s collapsed. There’s no national strategy and they’re so skint there’s no anti HS2 advertising, not that it’s made any impact when there was. Their empty threats to vote for Farage’s Brexit Party have been rendered even more laughable by the man’s decision not to stand in Tory seats (which is what the majority of HS2 runs through on Phase 1! Even poor Peter Deeley is starting to realise he’s been shafted by Farage…
HS2 antis are going to have a terrible election. I can’t see the likes of Arch-Brexiters such as Deeley voting Green and damaging Tory chances so I’m looking forward to crunching the post – election numbers in constituencies HS2 passes through – such as the Chilterns, Warwickshire and Tatton!
Until then the voting’s over, stophs2’s tale of woe will continue…
A few days ago, StopHs2 ‘Campaign Manager’ Joe Rukin was given a platform by the Independent newspaper to spout his usual dishonest rubbish about Hs2 without the slightest challenge. There was no interview, just a polemic written by Rukin. In it, he doubled-down on some of his old lies, such as the claim that there will be billions of pounds worth of service cuts on the conventional network to fund Hs2. Here’s the quote.
Rukin knows this is a lie as it’s been pointed out to him over many years by many people. But he can’t resist retelling it, just like his many others, because Rukin will never admit his dishonesty and dishonesty is all he’s got left now their ‘campaign’ is up shit creek without a political paddle. I first exposed it here way back in February 2015. Of course, in those days, Joe claimed it was only £8.3bn! Here’s what I wrote at the time.
“Joe’s totally unsubstantiated claim that this means “£8.3 billion of cuts to classic services” might be considered suspect by the most innocent of readers. And they would be right. It is true that in the Economic Case analysis (table 9 on page 78) is a figure of £8.265 billion, labelled “classic line savings”. So what’s that all about? Well first, it refers to the full network in Phase 2, not Phase 1. Then, it’s a Present Value, that is, 60 year’s worth of annual sums all rolled into one. So the annual figure relevant to Phase 1 will be a lot – and I mean a lot – smaller. Which is why Joe doesn’t quote it.
But whatever it is, is Joe right to paint this as “cuts”? Got it in one, no he isn’t. Go back to the beginning, and remember that, apart from the new Curzon St services, the HS2 service for Phase 1 is basically the present Virgin pattern unplugged from the WCML at Handsacre and plugged into HS2 to Euston instead. So we have, for instance, an HS2 train every hour that runs from Liverpool, calls at Runcorn and Stafford, and then on to Euston on HS2. The cost in terms of fuel, maintenance, crew and fleet leasing should be charged to HS2, no-one would dispute. But that train replaces a Virgin service that callsat Runcorn and Stafford, then to Euston on the WCML. So of course the saving from replacing that train with the HS2 service should be deducted from the cost of running the HS2 train. Same stations, same destination, and faster. What has been “cut”? Nothing.”
Since Rukin first told this lie many new rail franchises have been let. Most recently the Greater Anglia, Northern Rail, SouthWest Rail, Transport for Wales, East Midlands Rail franchises and from today – the new West Coast partnership which will cover the west Coast Main Line and phase 1 of HS2 as the new franchise will run until March 2031.
So, where are Joe’s cuts? Not a single franchise that has been let since HS2 was first mooted has contained ANY service cuts. Exactly the opposite in fact, they’ve all introduced new services and new trains. In the case of Greater Anglia they’re replacing their entire train fleet! It’s the same with many others, who are expanding, not contracting their fleets! So, where are the cuts, Joe? Take this snippet from todays West Coast announcement. Some of these new services will be run by brand-new bi-mode trains!
Whichever way you look at the evidence, it’s clear that Rukin’s a serial liar who will say anything. Oh, you might have noticed something else. This new franchise covers the West Coast Main Line and HS2 phase 1 until 2031. Why would the Government let a franchise for a new railway that it’s about to cancel?
Joe has a big problem, he can lie as often as he likes about these things, he can ignore the facts – but the facts keep coming back to expose him for what he is – a man whose pants are perpetually on fire!
Yesterday, the High Speed Rail (West Midlands – Crewe) Bill had its 3rd reading in Parliament after completing the petitioning process. In a surprise to absolutely no-one except a few die-hard anti Hs2 people, it sailed through with a majority of 263 to 17. The 17 who voted against it were the usual rag-bag of MPs who’ve always opposed Hs2. This included disgraced former Labour MP Kelvin Hopkins (who had the whip withdrawn in 2017 after allegations of sexual misconduct and who is still ‘under investigation’) and another of his Brexit supporting ‘chums’, mad Kate Hoey MP, plus Helen Jones, the MP for Warrington North and the other pro-Brexit Labour dinosaur – Dennis Skinner. Also on the list were two Plaid Cymru MPs and 11 Conservatives. Yet again the Tory list featured the same old names. Bone, Fabricant, Cash, Gillan, Bridgen and McVey, plus 5 others. Completely outnumbering them were a cross party selection of 210 Tories, 45 Labour, 6 DUP and 2 Liberal Democrats.
To say it was a walkover would be an understatement! You can find the Hansard record of the debate here. Needless to say, the decision was welcomed by a wide range of political, business and transport groups up and down the country. But what of the anti Hs2 camp? Well, it’s a bit like saying “Don’t mention the war”! There’s been a news black-out from StopHS2, which has been hilarious! There’s no mention of the result on their website, Facebook page or Twitter account. Even more amusing, StopHS2 ‘Chair’, Penny Gaines was live tweeting all the way through the debate. In her usual style, Gaines tried to spin and hype anything negative said about Hs2 by the tiny number of detractors, whilst studiously ignoring anything said by its supporters. Producing over 100 Tweets in that time for her tiny band of 798 followers from her home in Bournemouth (yes, Bournemouth!) she kept up a stream of spin right up to the moment the vote was taken, as you can see here;
Then? Nothing. Absolutely nothing – complete radio silence in fact. She ran away and left people hanging. Well, she would have if there’d been many listening, the maximum she got was 10 retweets! As far as her Twitter thread goes it died just as soon as the result of vote was announced! It’s hilarious! Talk about denial!
So, that’s it folks, the Hs2 Phase 2a bill has passed with a massive majority and now goes on to the Lords, where it’ll also pass with a huge majority as there’s no more opposition to Hs2 there than there is in the Commons! In the meantime, the future of some of the MPs who voted against the bill is ‘interesting’ to say the least! Hoey has announced she’s standing down at the next election – jumping before her solidly Remain constituency deselect her. Hopkins future looks in doubt too. Plus a few of the other Brexit fundamentalists like Gillan & Fabricant could be in for a rough ride if/when Brexit blows up in the faces because of the impossibility of making Unicorns real. The same for Skinner when his constituents wake up to the real damage Brexit will cause. In fact, the correlation between opposition to Hs2 and support for Brexit is unmistakeable, although some prominent Brexiters – including one who previously pulled the wool over Hs2 antis eyes before – Jacob Rees-Mogg, who voted FOR the bill!
It’s only a question of time now before StopHS2 join all the other defunct anti Hs2 groups as historical footnotes – and failures.