According to Conservative insiders, Deputy London Mayor Richard Barnes suffered an electoral backlash to Government plans for HS2, despite his complete opposition to HS2. The two London Assembly seats which the Conservatives lost to Labour are the two most affected by HS2 in the capital, with Barnes losing to Onkar Sahota in Ealing and Hillingdon and Brian Coleman being replaced by Andrew Dismore in Barnet and Camden. Besides London, very few areas affected by HS2 went to the polls on May the 3rd. The other warning which must be heeded by mainstream politicians was the result in Chelmsley Wood, the most affected ward in Solihull Borough, which Chris Williams of The Green Party, who nationally oppose HS2, won with 63% of the vote.
Alex Nieora, chair of North Ealing Against HS2 said; “Part of the votes lost by Richard locally are directly attributable to the coalition’s dogmatic full steam ahead support for the unnecessary and both financially and environmentally ruinous HS2 project, which is so opposed here locally. Richard fiercely opposed HS2 but many voters would have perceived him as part of the coalition pushing forward current HS2 plans. HS2 will cost each London household around £1,700, but will benefit practically no one in Ealing in Hillingdon. Voters have recognised this and have told the coalition government what they think with their feet.” The Hillingdon & Ruislip action groups issued a statement; “Despite great support at our Stop HS2 events from Richard Barnes and his vocal opposition to HS2 in both Ealing and Hillingdon, voters seem to have decided they can not vote for the party that blindly pushes HS2 on a country that does not want it or need it. Both Conservative and Labour leaders should take a warning from this – politicians in safe seats with massive margins may not be safe when HS2 goes through them and as Britain wakes up to the cost and devastation other politicians may fall on the sword of HS2.” Fran Heron from Camden said; “The defeat of Brian Coleman has been influenced by HS2 and his lack of vocal opposition to the plight of Euston in his Assembly constituency. Boris Johnson has to learn that it is no use waffling that HS2 ‘is not right’. While we all know what is wrong with it on every level, we need to know what he is actually going to do. He stands on a platform of ‘doing away with waste’ and on top of that there is a massive contribution all Londoners will have to pay with no benefit. Why should all Londoners pay £1700 through taxes for a project few will benefit from, rather than investment being made across the board in rail to benefit everyone.” In one of his last pre-election outings in Camden, Boris Johnson hardened his stance on HS2, saying; “My view is very simple, the government has got to produce a good business case for HS2. £32billion is a lot of money to spend and the government has to put forward the business case for it.” Additionally, Johnson promised campaigners in Uxbridge that they could “Expect serious intervention” on HS2 if he was re-elected. Stop HS2 Campaign Coordinator Joe Rukin said; “Due to how few places along the route which went to the polls this week, there were not many opportunities for people opposing HS2 to make their views known, but where voters had that chance they took it. The main parties need to heed this warning, rethink their plans and cancel this massive white elephant before it is too late.” Penny Gaines, chair of Stop HS2, said: “It’s obvious from the results that the electorate have voted against HS2, and the Government needs to listen to what people say. Richard Barnes lost his seat because of the serious concerns many people in Ealing and Hillingdon have about central Tory party support for HS2. It’s a clear message to David Cameron that his support for HS2 is costing his party real votes. The day before the election, Boris Johnson strongly condemned HS2, and its inadequate business case – he was clearly worried about HS2 and what the voters thought about it. And the electorate rewarded him for it. And in the West Midlands people are also voting against HS2. In Chelmsley Wood in Solihull, the Green Party – who are nationally opposed to HS2 – took the seat from Labour, with the Greens gaining a two thirds majority.”