HS2? Hardly Surprising, Too!

As ever, it seems the Tories cannot quite get the grasp of this whole democracy thing. You see, you need to have a chunk of society support you if you want to be elected. Unfortunately, whilst unable to convince their long term foes that they are any better than the emaciated hunks of hypocrisy called Labour and the LibDems, they just cannot seem to help but do all they can to drive their natural supporters away, whilst living up to the largely self-inflicted stereotype of themselves as the nasty party that doesn’t care about anyone but millionaires.

Although such a comment could apply to pretty much any aspect of Cameron’s policies other than a referendum on the EU (and nobody really trusts him on that), I’m currently thinking of HS2, the proposed High Speed rail link that will run slapbang through core Conservative constituencies, in the political equivalent of slitting your own throat.

Now, if it was the case that HS2 would actually bring any tangible benefits such as creating jobs and improving the UK’s transport system, it would be difficult to argue against it in principle; it would be possible to quibble about the details of its route in order to minimise the impact on the environment and peoples’ lives, but, beyond that, it would be difficult to say ‘no’ and anyone moaning that it would run through their garden or drop the price of their house would be easily classifiable as a NIMBY (although I do have a lot of sympathy for NIMBYism – nobody wants something unpleasant in their backyard and it is natural to fight against such, even if one might, eventually, be forced to bow before the greater good).

Sadly, there seems to be little good to come from it beyond the immediate gain in jobs for the construction industry (which is rather offset by the disruption to lives and the economy whilst it is being built). Despite the wild claims, it seems that journey times will not be slashed by any appreciable amount and that the only people who will benefit from the line will be the wealthy elite, able to travel in comfort, cocooned from the masses who will be priced out of its carriages (and already find it almost impossible to afford existing rail fares). In order to give the elite a pleasant journey, large numbers of people will lose their homes and businesses and many more will find their lives blighted by it, whilst those who invested in bricks and mortar will find the value of their property plummeting (and who wants to bet that it won’t be the genuinely wealthy who will suffer, but the hardworking people who toiled for decades to pay off mortgages). Then, of course, there is the damage to the countryside and, worst of all from an economic point of view, the inflated cost and lengthy construction period that will, as always, overrun.

In short, nobody but a small elite want it, it will do no good for the economy and serves no practical purpose other than to ferry about a bunch of rich people. Living well away from anywhere that will be affected by the line, I don’t think I can be accused of NIMBYism, yet I see absolutely no point to HS2 and am steadfastly opposed to it. The transport infrastructure of Britain is in need of improvement, but this ill-thought-out project will do nothing to solve its problems. Rather than wasting money and effort on this, the government should direct it to projects that will benefit everyone and help boost the stalling economy. Sadly, going by its record, commonsense is unlikely to prevail…


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