Whilst there have been many tales of the profligacy and waste at HS2 Ltd, especially those that focus on the gold-plated wages they give out, one of the questions people have kept asking us over the years is “They have dozens, literally dozens of people in their communications team. What exactly do they do all day?” Part of the reason we get asked that question is that when you compare the resources available to both HS2 Ltd and Stop HS2, and then look at the outcomes in terms of press and social media coverage it is pretty clear we win hands down, so it was a question that we asked ourselves for years too; what do the 40-odd strong HS2 Ltd communications team do all day? And yes, it is about 40-odd, and that’s after the internal communications unit was recently got rid of. The word is that they even have about people 10 working on branding. Yes really, and yes, how? How does HS2 Ltd need 10 people working on branding?
So with a bloated media team that can only just about manage to average a tweet a day, and that’s when they have drop-in events to publicise, what do the HS2 Ltd communications team do all day?
Well, if we are really lucky, we might get an anonymous comment at the bottom of the page with some more details, because that’s what they do, they monitor what is being said about HS2 and that is the main reason why they are so scared of ever saying anything at all.
To be specific, the media team monitor the media, the social media team monitor social media, and they all spend their days performing bullshit tasks like creating word clouds, that tell them and the Department for Transport what people are saying about HS2. They have meetings about meetings about meetings to discuss outcomes and other such mind-melting corporate bollocks, because it is absolutely imperative to ensure that all lines going out to the media are controlled by the Department for Transport, and in extreme cases Number 10. The bottom line is that the Department for Transport is and always has been the completely incompetent Department for Transport, so they want to do anything they can to avoid even more negative media coverage. As such, you have to realise that HS2 is its worst nightmare, and this dictates that so much of their work is crisis management and firefighting.
A great example of this, and without doubt a measure of just how desperate things have become, is that yesterday the George Osborne edited Evening Standard published a puff-piece on HS2, which we are all meant to accept at face value without noticing that the journalist who wrote it was also a special advisor for the DfT.
With all this in mind, you have to ask one question; how can they have so many people working on trying to control the messaging about HS2, yet be so fundamentally and consistently terrible at it? Well this week they truly raised the bar in terms of the levels of sheer incompetence. You would have thought with all these highly-paid people providing detailed analysis of what people think about HS2, someone might have spotted at some point over the last nine years that on occasion people have described the project as a white elephant, and this is probably not something they want to draw attention to.
Well, no, they just went for it full throttle and announced their first London building would be ‘Ivory White’.
Ivory White? What, as in ‘White Elephant’? Worse is that we know @transportgovuk are jumpy about negative press & control the lines out of @HS2ltd, and no-one saw the jump from “White Ivory” to “White Elephant”? How incompetent do you have to be to work on #HS2 comms? #StopHS2 https://t.co/7YYH9QDZlh
— Stop HS2 (@stophs2) January 16, 2019
Yep, after nine years, they couldn’t see the jump from ‘Ivory’ to ‘Elephant’ coming. Of course That wasn’t the only way you can go with ‘Ivory’ that is suitable for HS2
— David Farnsworth (@Farnsworth100) January 17, 2019
Though the tiles took some people in a different direction….
Looks like someone’s offloaded a job lot left over from another contract – public toilet refurb?
— HarefieldHS2 (@HarefieldHS2) January 16, 2019
That’s the look they were going for Jon ; it will be a constant reminder of all the money that is being pissed against the wall…
— Chris Davis (@chrisd525252) January 17, 2019
Giant outdoor urinal. See Arndale centre Manchester for inspiration as Britain’s biggest bog wall. 2 years of that being up the stench of stale piss will be unbearable.
— David Boon (@SheepdogNo1) January 16, 2019
I think they are taking the piss. pic.twitter.com/SZ5ojkAlyY
— Weshaynes (@WestyHaynes) January 16, 2019
There was one sweeter suggestion
— MCheshireAgainstHS2 (@mcahs2) January 16, 2019
…. It’s a sugar lump, very clever 👏👏. Did your 3 year old design that?…. I really hope it never gets built, you people will destroy parts of London and will leave a huge scar across the country. #StopHS2
— Luke O’Brien (@LukeTOBrien) January 16, 2019
One theory as to where HS2 Ltd got their inspiration was out of this world
What is the inspiration for these alien impositions? Could it be….. ? pic.twitter.com/i08w3Z4fAg
— createstreets (@createstreets) January 16, 2019
What, a bunch of mindless automatons who have no compassion, do not care about the damage they cause, take everything in their path, want everyone to think like them and keep saying “Resistance is Futile” right until the point when they lose?
And then there’s the Borg!#HS2
— Joe Rukin (@joerukin) January 16, 2019
Anyway, with the HS2 Communication team clearly understaffed, below we’ve done some of the leg work needed to form their next cloud. Enjoy!
What an utterly vile piece of architecture and design – much like the rest of #hs2 🤮🤢
— Rosemary Ward (@saffire1610) January 16, 2019
Well at least it gives Banksy a new canvas
— Andrew (12/Mar/08) (@MRAJPalmer) January 16, 2019
Blimey, that is truly hideous #hs2 Is that to scale? Something for folk to look forward to above the tunnels, will blend in beautifully.. not!
— Kate Nutelli (@KNutelli) January 16, 2019
— peter jones (@HS2DeadDuck) January 17, 2019
Well, that’s a monstrosity.
— Adam Hosker (@Adam_Hosker) January 16, 2019
Covered in 2,000,000 laminated sunflower petals, here’s my design for the #HS2 Washwood Heath maintenance depot. Inspired by every industrial building from the last 30 years, it’s yellow in an attempt to make Birmingham look less miserable. That’ll be £250k please. Cheque is fine pic.twitter.com/Sbd5vepmTH
— Joe Rukin (@joerukin) January 16, 2019
Though of course while we are all laughing at this, we’re not talking about the fact the HS2 London station contracts have, like other contracts, been delayed. So maybe this was all part of some brilliant master plan. But I doubt it.