A rare pleasure

In my blog Do you believe in fairies? (posted 11 Jul 2013) I gave some examples of the recent trend for some senior politicians, albeit generally those now relegated to the backbenches or “in another place”, to question the merits of the HS2 proposal. If we are to believe an article in The Mail on Sunday there is also at least one politician in the very heart of Government who shares these doubts. The newspaper says that, “Well-placed sources claimed that Environment Secretary Owen Paterson has vowed to kill off the project on the grounds that it will damage the environment”. The article quotes “a well-placed Tory insider” saying: “Owen’s view is that he will subject it to such tough environmental tests that he will kill off the whole thing”, and adding, “He does not like HS2”.

Now I am very sceptical of newspaper reports citing “well-placed sources” – I remember well the rumours last June, picked up by the BBC and one respected periodical, that the HS2 project was to be “kicked into the long grass” – but I’d like to think that there might be some truth in the report; after all if the Environment Secretary isn’t prepared to speak up for the environment, who will?

Just for good measure, by the way, The Mail on Sunday claims that “a second Tory Cabinet Minister has privately sounded the alarm over the enormous bill”; now I wonder who that might be?

Now if, Heaven forbid, I was a protagonist of HS2, I would be a trifle concerned at the way the tide appears to be turning. I would, of course, take heart from the 330 to 27 vote in favour of the High Speed Rail (Preparation) Bill, but I would also reflect that this vote means that possibly more than 250 MPs failed to turn up to register their support for HS2. We also, I think, have to recognise that some of those who may not have otherwise voted in favour might have been swayed by the Government conflating meeting the cost of HS2 with making provision for compensation.

What I would see the need to do, I think, is to step up the war of words on the Internet, as we appear to be in a crucial “make or break” phase for the project. I would, I am sure, see the need to take the fight to the opposition and get my pro-HS2 views onto the websites that are fighting HS2. For whatever reason, perhaps it is complacency, there appears to be no evidence that this is happening. I have just taken a straw poll of the recent comments logged on the Stop HS2 website. When I checked, the ten most recent blogs that have comments logged against them could boast only four that appear to be in favour of HS2, compared with more than fifty expressing sentiments against HS2.

Supporters of HS2 only pop up infrequently on this site and I sometimes wonder why this is. Perhaps I rate very low on the pro-HS2 hit list; obscurity does have its privileges. I would have thought that I provide an ideal environment for the considered debate of the virtues and vices of HS2, but then perhaps the pros don’t welcome considered debate. I have, I must admit, a low tolerance threshold for rants, and have taken action in the past to block comments when the quality has fallen below an acceptable level; perhaps this has put the more extreme pro commentators off.

However this site did benefit from correspondence recently with one supporter of HS2 – at least I took him to be such – if it proved to be only a brief interchange. He made one comment, I responded and then he posted a “swan song” in which he said that he would “not be back”. However, this brief interchange did raise some matters that I feel should be debated further. Since he is not sticking around to enable this debate to take place by a further exchange of comments, I am going to devote the next blog to examining the points that he made.


One response to this post.

  1. Posted by chriseaglen on July 15, 2013 at 6:51 pm

    One failure of the design of HS2 is that there are not enough points in the route.

    The project is not inspiring because people are pre-occupied by the slowing down of not only the economy but with the Motorway approaching main conurbations. More investment for stimulating the economy and the chronic roads would be more welcome than the duel with this HS2 project which at the end of the process before the downhill sprint for MPs in the hybrid bill. The deals are now being struck in the last phase for the plain sailing of the hybrid bill is possibly the Governments position. However the HMG did not win the argument to persuade the population and 2015 is their real test.


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