The latest polling on HS2, conducted by YouGov for the Sunday Times, has shown net opposition to the project from every part of the UK, with the overall figures showing just 32% of the population support HS2, whilst 50% oppose it.
Despite George Osborne claiming that HS2 is central to his ‘Northern Powerhouse’ vision, people from the North of England gave the biggest thumbs down to the project, coming out 29% for and 53% against. The other regional breakdowns were: London 35% for, 47% against; the rest of the South 34% for, 50% against; Midlands and Wales 33% for, 48% against; and Scotland 26% for, 48% against. (Full data tables here on Page 6).
Previous polls have shown support for HS2 from Londoners and younger demographics, but as these groups now show net opposition, Liberal-Democrat voters are left as the only set of people giving net approval to of HS2, with 51% of them supporting it whilst 37% are against.
The breakdown among supporters of other political parties is: Conservative 38% for, 48% against; Labour 29% for, 52% against; and UKIP 20% for, 67% against.
The latest YouGov poll is consistent with previous polls from the company, which have seen net opposition to the HS2 project since their survey of January 2013. During that time, the Government has conducted its’ own polling on HS2, but despite releasing earlier results, the Department for Transport has refused to release any information relating to polling which has taken place since May 2013, saying release of the information is against the public interest and the polling relates to policy which is still being developed.
Stop HS2 Campaign Manager Joe Rukin responded:
“Every time the public are asked if they want HS2, there is a resounding no, as it is clear the public have not been bought in by the spin about this project. Unfortunately, like the independent analysts who have scrutinised the case for HS2 and found it to be wanting, it seems what the public think does not matter to a Government wedded to their vanity project.”
“It is telling, that despite the Government trying to make out that HS2 would be a magic wand to heal the North-South divide, it is more unpopular in the North of England than anywhere else in the country, possibly because people there realise it is more important to fix the trains people rely on every day, than to introduce a whizzy service to London for the business elite at an astronomical cost.”
“We have already seen rail electrification projects in the North and Midlands shunted into the sidings because money is too short for them, but there is money to burn when it comes to HS2, and there are sure to be more upgrades shelved for the sake of HS2 when Network Rail report back on project planning in the Autumn. We have always said that ordinary rail projects would have to be cut to pay for HS2, which will need around £4bn per year during construction. We are now seeing these cuts, there will be more to come, and HS2 will get more unpopular as this goes on.”
Penny Gaines, Chair of Stop HS2, said
“The message from this YouGov poll is clear, that more people are opposed to HS2 than want it built. We know the Government knew this already, as they have commissioned their own polls on HS2 but refuse to publish the results. The Government know HS2 is unpopular, they know people would prefer better local railways, but they have stopped work on Trans-Pennine and Midland Mainline electrification which would benefit people far sooner and more cheaply than the £50 billion HS2, and there will certainly be more projects that never make it off the drawing board because of the sheer amount of money needed for HS2.”