Stop HS2 has announced plans to run a slate of Independent Stop HS2 candidates at the next General Election.
The national campaign group said that it could stand independent candidates in parliamentary seats along the preferred route in the event that the Government pushes on with the scheme this December. There will also be scope to stand candidates along the extended ‘Y’ route to Leeds & Manchester after it is announced in March 2012. If Philip Hammond announces that HS2 will go ahead in December, Stop HS2 will seek to meet the cost of parliamentary deposits in the new year it by inviting financial pledges from the general public to fight seats at the next election. Of the 26 seats that are affected by the first phase of HS2, the majority are held by Conservative MPs including a number of seats held by Government Ministers re-elected in 2010 on a platform of defeating ‘Labour’s’ proposed scheme. Stop HS2’s plans may include a swathe of parliamentary seats if the routes to the north of Birmingham are chosen before the next election, specifically targeting HS2-supporting MPs.
Stop HS2 Campaign co-ordinator Joe Rukin who stood in the last general election purely as an awareness raising exercise said:
“HS2 is the perfect example of how the system has failed. It started off with Lord Adonis, an unelected and unaccountable official telling the Department for Transport not to look at what was best for the rail infrastructure, but simply to design a high speed rail line to Birmingham and justify it. There was no discussion about whether or not it was a good idea and this is still the case. Since then we have had a ridiculously biased public consultation on what are incomplete and unreliable plans, and Philip Hammond MP has more or less admitted he will ignore the responses to that stating ‘it’s not a referendum’. If he gets up in Parliament in December and says he’s decided to go ahead, he will be giving a go ahead to spending £817m before a brick is laid, without a vote, purely on his nod. If he does that, he will have given us no choice.”
“Many MPs have been highly supportive of the campaign. We thank them for that and it is unlikely they would face a challenge. However, with the Ministers who have said they might resign because of HS2, we have to say that if Philip Hammond says he is pressing ahead as expected in December, that moment is your deadline. To the pro-HS2 Environment Secretary Caroline Spellman we say that if you continue go against your constituents and back a vanity project which is environmentally damaging, and you then get parachuted somewhere else after boundary changes, we will follow you. If you want to stand up for the environment, you can join the Caroline Lucas, the Green Party Leader along with a host of other MPs when we hand the Stop HS2 petition in to Downing Street on Tuesday.”
“At the last election, HS2 was a new thing, but it has been the single biggest issue staying in the public sphere in many areas, simply because of just how bad a plan it is, and to even think of it at this time is beyond bizarre. There is already enough of a groundswell in terms of public opinion for this to translate into an impact on election results in some areas and this will only get bigger and more widespread. There are many MPs north of Lichfield whose support for HS2 will be more challenged when more of their constituents know what it really means, and they have to start thinking about that. The bottom line is that any MP blinding supporting HS2 clearly hasn’t understood or been willing to listen to the case against.”
“We urge the Government to step back from this grandiose project which has been developed by unaccountable technocrats based on a narrow brief. The proposals simply do not stand up to independent scrutiny, and the cost to the general public is truly eye-watering, it will benefit only the richest in society and this at a time of such financial hardship. Instead it would be more prudent to invest the tens of billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money that have been earmarked for HS2 in more broad-based improvements to existing national infrastructure, transport or otherwise, so benefitting a much larger proportion of the general public. If good commercial sense does not prevail and HS2 is built, it will be a ‘rich man’s toy,’ accruing benefits to London at the expense of the regions and it will be one of the best ever examples of a White Elephant project. We should not forget that as HS2 would not open for 15-20 years, those politicians taking the decisions in the immediate future are unlikely to be in public office to take the blame when the ribbon is cut.”
“We hope our plans will prompt debate within all the main political parties and action from more MPs, however, if the Government confirms the plans for HS2 in December, the one certainty will be the total uproar in the previously loyal Conservative seats that are impacted by the line. There is palpable fury that the Government seems to want to press ahead with this scheme despite all the independent voices that question its economic and environmental viability. At the local elections earlier this year there was just the beginning of signs of an electoral revolt in the affected seats, including a huge swing away from the Conservatives to an Independent councillor in Great Missenden, but no organised slate. UKIP and The Greens who both oppose HS2 also made gains in HS2 affected areas. Should the Government push on with the scheme, many people who had previously been prepared to give their party the benefit of the doubt on this issue, will say enough is enough. Voters of all political persuasions will conclude that the only way to get their message through, to both the existing and future Governments, will be through democratic representation at the Ballot Box in this one unifying issue of principle. The Government, of whatever political persuasion, should beware the polite majority should the Government decide to push on with this wasteful, unwanted and unnecessary scheme.”
Notes to Editors:
1. For more information contact Joe Rukin on 07811 371880 or Penny Gaines on 07765 780553.
2. People can sign the petition against HS2 via the Stop HS2 website; http://stophs2.org/news/378-petition-government-stop-hs2/.