Well, the end of the stop Hs2 campaign, not this blog!
As I mentioned yesterday, the Hs2 Hybrid bill sailed through Parliament yesterday by 399 votes to 42. That’s a stonking cross-party majority of 357, or – to put it another way – 61.38% of the UKs 650MPs voted to build Hs2 and only 6.46% to stop it. Such a large political consensus lays bare the claim that Hs2 is a Tory ‘vanity project’ (or a Labour one for that matter). The vote has also exposed UKIP, who never even bothered to turn up and vote (no change there then, Ed). The result is a final humiliation for the Stop Hs2 campaign as they only gained one extra vote since the 2nd reading of the bill back in 2014. It effectively kills their campaign.
The antis reaction has been to claim that the decision was somehow rushed as the debate in the Commons didn’t last longer. It’s a ridiculous claim when you consider that we’ve been talking about Hs2 since 2009! There’s been numerous debates in both the Commons and the Lords – plus hundreds of hours of discussions during the petitioning process. If this is “rushing” things, no wonder the rest of the world has left us far behind when it comes to modern infrastructure. I’ll bet the Chinese (who’ve built thousands of kilometres of high speed line since 2009) will be having a right old laugh at this!
Needless to say, the StopHs2 campaign is in complete denial. If you want to see how badly, check out the comments on the StopHs2 Facebook page. The amazing thing is, everyone but the antis could see what was coming. Their campaign’s only success has been in lying to itself. It’s consistently lied about the need for Hs2, the level of opposition to Hs2 and that the vast majority of those who object to Hs2 are in fact, Nimbys who live in the way of the route! Some are still refusing to accept the truth. They’re taking to Twitter to condemn MPs as “traitors” who’ve let them down. They make empty threats that MPs will “pay” through the ballot box – which shows both denial and amnesia – as they’ve obviously blanked out what an ineffective disaster their “no votes for you with Hs2” campaign was before the election. In fact, as their votes are concentrated in constituencies of MPs who opposed Hs2 all this would do would be to shoot themselves in both feet!
How much longer the anti Hs2 campaign can keep going now is a good question. Hs2aa have been conspicuous by their absence these past few weeks. Not a peep was heard from them at all yesterday. StopHs2 managed a few desultory tweets & a moan on the website but that was it. There was no demonstration outside Parliament, no full page adverts in the newspapers, just a few dozen people moaning on Twitter. Their campaign has nowhere else to go. It’s exhausted the political route, failed on the legal front and run out of money. It’s bereft of ideas and it’s activist base is dwindling daily. In short – it’s finished.
All that’s left now is for the House of Lords to carry out their scrutiny of the bill. Whether this will cause the Hs2 timetable to slip slightly or not is a matter of conjecture. What isn’t open to doubt is that Hs2 will receive Royal Assent. In the meantime the Hs2 project team will be getting on with preparing for spades in the ground sometime in 2017.
In the meantime, I’ll look forward to blogging less about the campaign to stop Hs2 and more about building Hs2. Watch this space…