Personally, I preferred the Eurhythmics version myself, but I have to admit the latest caterwauling from the opponents of HS2 in the form of the self-appointed ‘tree-protectors’ who’ve wasted so much time and money getting nowhere when it comes to stopping HS2 is actually quite revealing. This long thread (featuring all the usual suspects) has appeared on the ‘stopHs2’ Facebook page!
It seems that little old me has upset them again and the mask of them being ‘peaceful’ and non-violent’ has well and truly slipped!
I applied to join one of their groups to post a riposte to this abject load of nonsense I blogged about a couple of days ago. I didn’t hide who I was as I thought the reaction might be interesting. After all, they believe in ‘free speech’, don’t they? Obviously not – and a lot more besides. Go get some popcorn before you start reading…
Brent Poland is the serially failed Green Party candidate whom I’ve blogged about here. The remarks from Mark Keir (another serially failed Green Party candidate) look curious. “Delete” me? What can he possibly mean? Take a look at this (expanded) explanation. “I want HIM deleted”.
My, that’s very peaceful and non-violent, isn’t it? Mark Keir is one of the leading lights (that’s not saying much: Ed) of the HS2 ‘rebellion’ who’s spent several years lying about HS2, most famously claiming he watched the tree that inspired Roald Dahl to write ‘Fantastic Mr Fox’ actually being cut down by HS2 contractors in Jones’ Hill Woods. It was complete cobblers of course, as I revealed in this blog.
Keir has a habit of being very abusive to HS2 staff on camera, then acting all aggrieved if anyone ever answers back. Meanwhile, back at that thread it seems they also want to burn me…
And there’s more…
What a nice bunch of people they sound! Remember that next time you hear someone wanting to donate money to this bunch of anarchists and fantasists, because all they’re doing is harm. Harm to the woods they’re supposedly protecting, and harm to the HS2 contactors who’re merely going about their jobs. They have a habit of stirring up hate wherever they go and this shows what’s beneath the mask they try and wear. Now that their campaign’s collapsed that mask gets dropped more and more often. Soon they’ll be scattered to the four winds – and good riddance…
UPDATE. 1st August.
Some more ‘nice’ people popped in to add their pennorth and support freedom of information and the right to free speech, or not…
They really don’t seem to able to put down that shovel. Here are the latest diatribes from these lovely people! With such erudition and ambition, how could they possibly have failed so dismally to stop HS2?
UPDATE: 2nd August.
Meanwhile, the fantasies and accusations get even more bizarre from these ‘freedom of speech’ loving people! I do chuckle at the ‘accusation’ – otherwise known as ‘let’s just make stuff up’! Plus, what an utterly bizarre accusation Keir’s dreamt up but then the poor chap’s always had a vivid imagination as well as a tenuous grasp on reality!
UPDATE. 7th August 2021.
Talking of ‘non-violent’. I see one of the ‘non-violent’ protesters from Jones’ Hill Woods has been up in court this week. The Bucks Free Press reported that Ross Monaghan, 38, assaulted two HS2 security guards and damaged fences at the ancient woodland site between November last year and February this year. Monaghan was found guilty of two counts of assault and four counts of criminal damage. He was ordered to pay £775 in costs and £50 to each of the guards he assaulted. I believe Monaghan still has other court cases pending…
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At midnight, yet another StopHs2 turned into the inevitable pumpkin. After a frantic last minute ‘surge’ (well what passes for one in their eyes) it staggered over the finish line with 24,075 signatures, having gained less than 80 in the final 24 hours! The 2018 one managed 28,938. To say this is pathetic is an understatement, especially when you consider this is a national figure. The UK’s current population size is reckoned by the UN to be 67.53 million (as there’s been no UK census since 2011), which rather puts this figure into perspective, it’s just 0.03%. So much for HS2 being a ‘national’ issue! I’ll crunch the numbers here as they make interesting reading when you compare them to the results of the last time Joe Rukin tried one of these petitions back in 2017. I’ll analyse them in detail shortly, but first, let’s look at what conclusions we can draw.
StopHs2 really is just a ‘Nimby’ campaign
Yes, I know they’ve spent years denying this, pretending there’s widespread national opposition to HS2, but these petitions provide the statistics to prove that’s simply not the case. It’s why I love it when Rukin starts yet another one as they provide empirical evidence, not just rumour. These petitions log the number of signatures by Parliamentary constituency, giving a running total and percentage. Here’s the map for England. Those constituencies with the most signatures appear in a darker colour. Now, looking at that map, have a wild guess where Phase 1 of HS2 runs?
Sure, there’s signatures from other parts of the UK, after all, various Green groups and the Brexit party have publicised it amongst their supporters, but they’re statistically insignificant. The fact 4 people in Banff & Buchan in Scotland or 2 in West Tyrone in Northern Ireland have signed is neither here nor there, because 49.64% of all the petition signatures have come from just 9.6% of the UK’s 650 constituencies, the 63 that HS2 just happens to pass through…
Their ‘Grassroots’ campaign is dying
Their 2017 petition managed 28,398 signatures, this one’s only managed 24,075. As you’ll see from the numbers from the different phases, whilst the phase 1 signatures have decreased, the ones for phase 2a and the two phase 2b legs have collapsed. In some cases dramatically.
In reality, this petition is a last gasp from the Chilterns and other areas on phase 1 where minds have been focussed by the fact that workers and machinery are already on the ground, preparing for construction.
Another reason for the collapse is that – because this is essentially a ‘Nimby’ campaign, many of its supporters have been bought out and moved away in the past few years. HS2’s no longer an issue for them. This was always going to happen, but it’s accelerated as the number of homes purchased has accelerated. One only has to look around Euston, where the new homes built to house the people displaced by Hs2 works are now occupied and the old ones are being demolished. This is reflected in the number of signatures to the petition.
Once Phase 1 construction is fully underway, the StopHs2 campaign will fracture and what’s left of its national organisation will collapse
In many ways, this has already happened. Of the three ‘national’ groups, two have already collapsed. AGAHST (Action Groups Against HS2) went to the wall in 2015 and the HS2 ‘Action Alliance’ gave up in 2016. Both were Chiltern based. That leaves ‘StopHs2’ which is a bit of a joke to be honest. It’s Campaign Manager (and I use that term loosely) Joe Rukin runs it from his flat in Kenilworth, Warwickshire, whilst its Chair (of what? Ed) Penny Gaines now lives in Bournemouth! It has little relevance away from Phase1 other than to provide a few campaign materials and Joe’s occasional ‘rent a quotes’ to the national media. In the real world, they never has any involvement in the Phase 2a petitioning process, nor will they have in the phase 2b process when that finally gets off the ground. As much of their funding comes from Phase 1 Nimbys, we can expect that to dry up too. Of course, someone might be foolish enough to offer Joe Rukin a proper job, but he’s been looking for years and his CV isn’t exactly scintillating. Meanwhile, many local ‘action’ groups went to the wall years ago, leaving Facebook and Twitter littered with their remains like an old battlefield.
They still have no political support
10 years on, HS2 still commands enormous cross-party political support. In fact, this has grown, as can be seen the way Northern and Midlands leaders have become an increasingly loud voice in campaigns to ensure that HS2 is built in its entirety. Added to their are the powerful voices of business leaders up and down the country.
In contrast, what do StopHs2 have? A handful of MPs, mostly the same old faces like Cheryl Gillan, the Green Party and now The Brexit party, who are likely to emulate the ‘success’ of their leader’s last chariot for his ego – UKIP – who never managed to get a single MP – even by standing in the Chilterns…
Remember, all these people, along with ‘celebrity’ environmentalist Chris Packham all encouraged people to sign this petition. Packham alone has 356,000 Twitter followers, the Green Party 284,000 and the Brexit party 202,000 – yet they were all spectacularly unsuccessful in getting people to sign the petition. This is why, despite all the bluster you’re seeing from some Nimbys in the run up to the general election, HS2 simply isn’t an election issue.
Right, let’s crunch some numbers!
These are comparison of the signatures between yesterday and when the last petition closed after 6 months in March 2018. First up – phase 1. I’ve highlighted the increases on 2018.
The interesting thing here is that many of the increases are from such a low base number they’re insignificant, especially when you consider what percentage of constituents they are! Their ‘best’ result is in Chesham and Amersham, where long-standing opponent of HS2, Dame Cheryl Gillan MP holds sway. Even there they can’t get beyond 1.9% – and these are meant to be their heartlands! Kenilworth & Southam is their next best number where they have 1.6%, but as this is where Joe Rukin is that’s amazingly poor. Buckingham gets 1.5%, after that the numbers really start to drop.
2,570.105 live in the 23 constituencies phase 1 traverses. Just 0.36% of them have signed the petition – and these constituencies are meant to be the hot-bed of the Stophs2 campaign! Meridian’s the only interesting one, where their number have increased by 256%, but that’s still only 250 signatures and the total’s just 0.32% of all constituents!
Now for the phase 2 routes. First up is the leg to Manchester. This contains 18 constituencies and includes phase 2a to Crewe.
Their numbers here have plummeted by over 27%, in one notable case (Tatton) they’ve dropped by half! Tatton is one of the few places on the Manchester leg where there’s ever been an active ‘action’ group (Mid Cheshire) but even here they’re obviously struggling! Their ‘best’ result here is in Tatton, with a miserly 0.3%. It’s the only constituency off phase 1 that’s highlighted on the map in a darker colour.
Out of all 1,811.397 constituents, a measly 0.08% have signed the petition, down from 0.12% in 2018. Just like the other phases of HS2, it’s worth noting that what these figures show is that the StopHS2 ‘campaign’ get the vast majority of it’s tiny support from rural areas and has virtually bugger-all influence in the cities. There’s never been a single ‘action’ group in urban Birmingham, Leeds or Manchester.
Next up, the 18 constituencies on the phase 2 leg to Leeds, which produces some very interesting results…
The numbers signing have collapsed from 4793 in 2018 to just 1246 now. That’s a huge drop of 74%! Not a single constituency has registered a raise. Look at Rother Valley, down from 1650 to just 121, a drop of 92.6%! Hemsworth’s dropped by 73% and Bolsover by 69.1% whilst NW Leics is down 69.89%.
The route to Leeds was always an interesting one as the anti Hs2 campaign on that leg was always fractious and also full of bluster. They spent a lot of time fighting amongst themselves as some wanted Hs2 cancelling whilst others actually wanted Hs2 but fought against the final route selection. It also suffered from a fair few personalities who could best be described with the old expression, “all mouth and no trousers”! How quickly the ‘action’ groups have collapsed on the Leeds leg has surprised even me, but they’d sown the seeds of their own destruction right from the start.
So, what’s next for the stophs2 ‘campign’? Limbo. Now that a general election’s been called the Oakervee review is almost certainly going to be put on ice until afterwards. Of course, they could always resurrect their daft ‘no votes for you with HS2’ Twitter hashtag, but they’re firing blanks. They’re no political threat to anyone and the electorate has rather more pressing matters to vote on than building a new railway!
For reference, you can find a previous blog looking at the long failure of StopHs2 petitions here. There’s also this blog which crunched the numbers in their 2017-18 petition.
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!
You have to laugh! StopHs2, the only ‘group’ left opposing Hs2 have come up with a cunning wheeze to explain the fact that the Hs2 Phase 2a hybrid bill sailed through Parliament with a majority of 246 last week. Their plan? Don’t even mention that it ever took place – just ignore the fact! So, there’s no mention of it on their website, or their Facebook, or in tweets. It’s as if it never happened!
You can understand why it’s an embarrassment to them as it underlines their complete irrelevance nowadays and the fact that what little political support they had has collapsed. I blogged about the result here.
How long Stophs2 are going to maintain this pretence is a good question. It’s certainly made a mockery of their claim that they’re ‘the’ place to go to, to learn about Hs2! But it is very funny! I’s yet more signs of the irrelevance of Stophs2 nowadays. Unlike the Phase 1 petitions, they weren’t even involved in the Phase 2a process at any level. No-one invited them along, so they rarely mentioned it. But then they’ve always been a campaign (and I use that term in its loosest sense) that’s been firmly based on Phase 1 of Hs2. Mind you, as their Chair, Penny Gaines actually lives in Bournemouth nowadays (no, really!) they’re even more isolated. Of course, quite what Penny chairs is open to question, as Stophs2 is little more than her and Kenilworth based Joe Rukin!
Meanwhile, some lone soul has decided to arrange another anti Hs2 demonstration in London via Facebook and Twitter! If it ever happens (which is extremely doubtful) It’s meant to take place on the 7th September.
Unsurprisingly, Hemel Hempstead based Woolf is also a Brexit fanatic. Oh, I wouldn’t bother with his Facebook page either as there’s little of interest, unless you like looking at someone posting lots of ‘selfies’ all about bodybuilding! His attitude to people on Twitter (where he uses the appellation @drophs2) doesn’t exactly inspire much confidence in his rhetorical or intellectual capacities either…
You have to wonder. There’s 6.5 million people living on the route of Hs2, yet there’s never been a credible anti Hs2 campaign. The best they came up with was the Hs2 Action Alliance – which at least had some educated people involved, even if they were only Chiltern Nimbys! Now it’s reduced to the likes of Rukin and Gaines, a couple of dozen ‘Walter Mitty’ types who still think ranting on Twitter will stop Hs2, few self publicists like young Woolf plus a handful of misguided Greens who can’t see further than the ends of their noses. Hardly what you’d call a ‘winning team’ is it? I popped in to have a look at the progress of StopHs2’s latest petition on the Government website this morning. It’s taken them 10 days to get another hundred signatures!
The petition doesn’t stand a hope in hell as to be on target they should have had 58,000 by now. It now needs over 800 every single day until October! I see no-one in Camden has signed it for almost 6 weeks now, leaving it stuck on a miserable 247.
I suspect StopHs2 are in for even more disappointment when (as is looking increasingly likely) the blond buffoon Boris Johnson becomes Prime Minister. The chances of Johnson cancelling HS2 are minimal (see link). They’ve previously been sold a pup by another Brexiter, Jacob Rees Mogg, who’s another one who says one thing and then does another. Having been quoted saying he’d cancel Hs2 he then goes and votes for it – several times in fact! You can read about that here. Their poster boys do have a habit of letting them down! I await Boris Johnson’s premiership with interest!
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.
I’ve not blogged about Hs2 or what passes for a campaign against it for a while now, mainly because there’s nothing going on! Oh, there’s still a tiny bunch of Nimbys (nor more than a couple of dozen regulars) banging on about Hs2 on Twitter, but in the real worlds there’s nothing. In an effort to still appear relevant, StopHs2’s Joe Rukin turned up outside a couple of Tory party leadership hustings but he got nowhere near either of the events in Carlisle of Nottingham. Instead he filmed himself rambling on (as he does) about nothing really relevant to anything. Neither video got more than a 2,000 views, so it was all pretty pointless, as usual. If you like watching paint dry, you can find one of the video’s here.
Meanwhile, Rukin’s latest petition on the Government website has bombed. Each one he starts performs worse than the last one. This one’s struggling to get 19,000 signatures. To be in with a chance it needed to have over 53,500 signatures at this stage of the game. When you look at the constituency results, they’re awful. Camden is supposedly a StopHs2 stronghold as it contains Euston, yet only 247 in Camden have signed, and the last one of those was 5 weeks ago! Truth is, the anti Hs2 campaign in Camden has collapsed as most of those genuinely affected have been bought out by Hs2 or have moved on. It’s the same in many other areas. Let’s take the Chesham and Amersham constituency of arch Hs2 anti Cheryl Gillan MP as an example. This has always been ‘the’ anti Hs2 stronghold, so you’d expect tens of thousands of signatures, wouldn’t you? Here’s the reality, I took this screen-grab a few minutes ago.
A grand total of 1608 signatures, not even 2% of her constituents! Some ‘stronghold’! And this is their best result. Notice also that the only constituencies with anything more than a a handful of signatures are those on the Hs2 route? So much for claims that Hs2 antis aren’t really Nimbys!
Another sign of the collapse of their campaign is the results from the only London constituency that registers, Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner. In the last petition they managed 1555 signatures, or 1.59% of constituents. How many have they got so far this time? Just 389 or 0.399%!
Another interesting feature of the latest petition is the way nowhere on the Phase 2b route to Leeds even registers. The Manchester leg doesn’t even register at all. On the Phase 2a route to Crewe the only one that appears is Stone (with just 287 signatures, 0.335%). The petition’s closing date is 29th October. When it finally staggers to a close I’ll crunch the constituency numbers and compare them with the last two petitions just so we can map the decline. To put their numbers in perspective, remember that Hs2 passes through 63 constituencies that (between them) contain a total of 6.53 million people!
All the evidence points to the fact their campaign’s going backwards, not forwards. More and more folk affected by Hs2 have been bought out and no longer care about the campaign to stop Hs2 and that process continues across all phases.
So, where do they go from here? Nowhere. The grassroots Stophs2 campaign’s effectively dead. Their only hope is that the cavalry (in the shape of a new Tory leader) will ride to their rescue. But, as I’ve blogged previously, that isn’t going to happen. It’s all over bar the moaning now as Hs2 ramps up to the major construction phase later this year. No doubt we’ll still see the usual suspects wittering on about Hs2 on social media for a while yet, and there’s no sign of Joe Rukin being employable, so expect a few more pointless videos as he tries to keep himself in the public eye. But as for any effective campaign, the show is well and truly over!
There’s been a real embarrassment of riches recently. We’ve had not one, but three petitions on the Government website about trying to stop Hs2! The first one closed on the 24th April, having received just 16,356 signatures. I’ve not had the time to crunch the numbers on it yet, but the map makes it very obvious where the most signatures came from, and yes – it was from a tiny bunch of Nimbys on the route! It’s easy to trace where phase 1 of HS2 is going on here!
Just before that petition closed, the Editor of the Bucks Herald started another, which runs until the 17th October (see this blog). After just 16 days it’s already run out of steam and underperforming on its daily target. At the time of writing it’s received just 7,802 signatures. Let’s have a look at what the signature map tells us, shall we?
My, what a surprise – it’s almost identical to the first! The constituencies Hs2 phase 1 are clearly visible, along with a couple that Phase 2 passes through! So much for the idea those opposed to Hs2 aren’t Nimbys! Now, lets have a look at the very latest petition which was started by Joe Rukin of StopHs2 six days ago. So far it’s not reached ‘peak Nimby’ and it’s been touted by some environmental groups and celebrities like Chris Packham. Now, on that basis you expect it would have far greater coverage, wouldn’t you? Let’s have a look at the map then…
Well, well, well, it’s almost identical to the other two! The only major difference is the numbers of constituencies (in grey) where no-one’s signed it! Yet again, the route of Hs2 Phase 1 sticks out like a sore thumb!
Bear in mind that 6.5 million people live in the constituencies that Hs2 passes through. So, if all these people are against the project, why are the numbers of signatures so small? Even the last doomed petition which closed in 2018 didn’t make it to 30,000 signatures (link).
Just for a bit of fun, let’s have a look at the map for the 2018 petition. Can you guess what it’ll look like?
Well, blow me down with a feather! Spot the route of HS2!
The only question now about the two active petitions is what number they’ll fail at. Rooting through some archives I came across an even earlier petition, started by Rukin back in 2012. That closed on the 4th August after getting a measly 26,262 signatures!
These petitions do make me laugh, all they ever do is expose the fact the Stop Hs2 ‘campaign’ is (in reality) driven by a tiny bunch of people living close to the route of the line. Despite all their claims about the ‘majority’ of the UK opposing Hs2 they can never get more than a few thousand signatures on a petition, but they never learn…
The other week I blogged about the latest doomed attempt to start an anti Hs2 petition on the Government website dedicated to providing them. At the time the petition was being ignored/slipped in under the radar of sole surviving official group, aka Stophs2. It had taken several months to get a measly 1154 signatures, then a couple of regular stophs2 tweeters spotted and pushed it, so finally, on March 14th Stophs2 jumped on the bandwagon and publicised it too.
Bad move! Now they’ve officially endorsed it I feel I can give it some more attention.
So, how’s it done now if it had reached ten grand on the 14th and it’s now been given the blessing of Stophs2? The answer is – not very well – at all. Here’s today’s ‘scores on the doors’! as at 17:46.
Wow! Two thousand signatures in 4 days eh? There’s only one slight problem. It needed more than that every single day! Here’s some number crunching. Including today, the petition has 38 days left to run. That means that (from tomorrow) it needs 2,373 every single day to have a hope in hell of hitting the 100,000 target. That’s a figure it’s never, ever hit. If you look through the most popular petitions you see that they get more in a couple of hours than what this needs in a day, which rather exposes the lie that so many people are upset about Hs2!
It gets worse for Hs2 antis, because these petitions come with a handy little map which shows which constituencies signatures come from. Now, Hs2 antis swear blind that StopHs2 is a truly national campaign and that they’re not ‘really’ Nimbys, oh no! The map blows that claim out of the water. See if you can guess by looking at the concentration of signatures where Hs2 just might run?
The biggest number of signatures comes from Buckinghamshire with 1,165. (or 1.15% of all constituents). So, not Nimbys at all!
Why Hs2 antis still continue with these crazy petitions is a mystery as all they do is cause them harm, but hey ho! Let’s see what the final shambolic total is next month as last time they didn’t even make the 30k mark.
The past few weeks have demonstrated a curious crossover between the dogmatists who still support Brexit (despite all the evidence of the utter shambles it was always going to turn into) and opposition to building Hs2. Anyone could be forgiven for thinking this is actually collusion. Today we’ve had Andrew Neil add his name to the list, claiming Hs2 money should be diverted to building high speed rail in the North. For the North this is all very touching. It’s also completely false. None of them could really give a damn about the North, it’s just the latest excuse to try and get Hs2 cancelled.
Liam Halligan trotted out the same excuse in Dispatches (which I analysed here). By pure co-incidence Neil is the Chairman of the Spectator, a magazine well know for printing anti Hs2 stories. Who had one in there recently? Yep, you’ve guessed it – Liam Halligan.
The crossover isn’t just through this little cabal of right-wing media types. It’s taken an interesting and rather darker turn. We’re suddenly seeing a lot of Twitter trolls which have been bashing out pro-Brexit propaganda now starting to tweet in opposition to Hs2. Who’s the guiding mind behind this I wonder? Meanwhile, other (long dormant) Twitter accounts have been resurrected to Tweet against Hs2. Here’s some examples.
It’s clear that this is now a co-ordinated campaign. The truth is, the anti Hs2 campaign’s getting rather desperate. They’ve been campaigning to stop Hs2 for nearly a decade now and got absolutely nowhere. In that time most of the local Stophs2 groups have collapsed, meaning there’s little in the way of a ‘grassroots’ campaign anymore, just a few isolated people. Even the notionally ‘national’ groups like HS2aa have failed and gone to the wall as the cross-party support for HS2 has remained unbreakable. Now, all that’s left is the Tory right-wingers in the media and their curious contacts with the shady world of social media manipulation through the use of Twitter trolls to further their aims.
Trolls are desperately needed because StopHs2’s own tiny band of Twitter followers are pretty useless. There’s just over 6000 of them. The problem is most of them never retweet or like anything, so they’re as much use as a chocolate fireguard! Foolishly, StopHs2 keep ‘pinning’ tweets to the top of the page, which makes it easy to see how many retweets or likes they get. It’s never over 100 and often far less. I crunch their social media numbers every month. Here’s last month. There’s a very obvious flaw in their troll strategy. Trolls and bots can’t write to their MPs or vote in elections. Oh, you might influence one or two people, but as Hs2 has never been an electoral issue you’re on a hiding to nothing. Also, this is not a referendum. Besides, who would Chiltern or Northern Nimbys actually vote for other than their normal party. UKIP? They’re finished. Try as you might, you’re not going to frighten many MPs in to opposing Hs2 – if any -and it’s MPs who vote on building Hs2.
Here’s a graphic illustration of their problem – all the dead Twitter accounts of people like this who’ve moved away from the Hs2 route after being bought out/relocated of their own accord. Unlike bots, these people could vote but Ms Carter gave up in June 2015. There’s many, many more like her…
I’ve a favour to ask…
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I can’t think of when I last blogged about the Stop Hs2 campaign. Mainly because there’s nothing going on! There’s no active national campaign anymore, just a few local groups, most of which are moribund. Stop Hs2 (otherwise know as Joe Rukin and Penny Gaines) are a complete waste of space. Their ‘campaign’ consists of increasingly rare posts to their website, or the occaisional moan about Hs2 on Twitter and, err – that’s it. They’ve gone from proactive to reactive, swapping campaigning to stop Hs2 to nothing more than moaning about Hs2 (and railways in general). Not that they get much reaction. Officially, they’ve over 6,000 followers on Twitter, but it’s painfully obvious many of those accounts are defunct (or bots) as the retweet & response rathe is tiny. They’re lucky if to get a couple of dozen retweets or responses.
Stupidly, one of the pair decided to make disparaging remarks about the fans of singer Harry Styles, who’ve been using the #hs2 hashtag to discuss the name of the artists second album. StopHs2 made the cardinal error of thinking the hashtag was somehow their property and posted a patronising response!
The reaction (understandably) was predictable. StopHs2 were schooled on politeness and how fanbases are international!
Some UK folk enjoyed StopHs2’s own goal…
So, Stophs2 finally manage to make an impact on Twitter – and it leaves them with egg on their faces around the world!