HS2 Labour’s Poisoned Chalice

This was first published on HS2 Buzz.

It’s March 2010 and the Labour party strategic planning committee know Labour are facing defeat to the Tories in under two months. HS2 Buzz imagines the scenario in this tongue in cheek sketch.

HS2 poisoned chalice

Poisoned Chalice

Chair: Has anyone had any thoughts on how best we can stuff up Cameron’s government?

Chancellor: We’ve spent all the country’s money already, so whatever happens they’re doomed.

Chair: True… but I think we should look longer term, we need something to knock the bloody smirk off their faces and keep it off.

Transport Secretary: I’ve been mulling this one over and think I have the perfect white elephant project. We still owe the buggers for saddling us with the bloody Dome.

Chair: We are listening… go on…

Transport Secretary: What about building a high speed railway right through the Chilterns AONB? If we picked the route carefully we could make sure it screws up their support in The Shires.

Chancellor: I like the sound of it, but the country is damned near bankrupt, something like that could cost 150 billion before it is finished surely?

Transport Secretary: Possibly, but wouldn’t it slap the Shire Tories in the kisser?

Chair: Britain is such a small country, they would never fall for it, even ‘flat out’ you’d only save about fifteen minutes getting to London from the Midlands.

Transport Secretary: That’s the thing, we could say it would benefit the north, play upon the north/south divide, you know… make it a class issue… us versus the toffs and crap like that.

Chancellor: They would probably suggest it followed the M40 corridor so as to minimise the destruction of the countryside. There would have to be a few options, what if they didn’t bite?

Transport Secretary: We’d say they were just protecting their voters at the expense of the taxpayer, going the long way round so as not to lose votes.

Chair: Are they daft enough to accept a route through the Chilterns AONB when they could go a less contentious route?

Chancellor: Some of their biggest friends would love to concrete over the place, they’d stand to make fortunes and even the Shire Tories won’t trump money and influence.

Chair: You’re right, all politicians retire eventually and if we want to spend our twilight years ‘in clover’ we have to make plans early don’t we?

Transport Secretary: Fine, we are agreed then. I will get things going ‘as soon as’, we don’t have long to get this project on the road.

Press Secretary: If this is going to work, we have to look as if we are really sold on it. Once the stuff hits the fan, we start talking to the press, ‘go cold’ on the project, suggest the cost is too great and that it’s already wasted too much money.

Chair: Brilliant! And if we start by wanting a route through the middle of the Chilterns, let them choose the M40. Nobody is going to want to put a route too close to the Rosthchilds, so we can rule that out. If the Tories change their mind under pressure to look unbiased, we’ll choose the M40 and leave them right in it.

Further Reading:

HS2 a poisoned chalice – Article from Think Scotland
Ed Balls raises fresh doubts over HS2 – Evening Standard
Peter Mandelson’s HS2 epiphany has tipped the balance – Polly Toynbee in The Guardian

One comment to “HS2 Labour’s Poisoned Chalice”
  1. As the gangster in “Some like it Hot” states ‘ some say …………but I say…………..”
    The recent press has been full of interesting comment.

    Some say sophisicated gerrymandering for Northern Marginals (cons) and political class war / despolation of rural communities (labour who were historically an urban/city party with little understanding of country stewardship) .

    I say…
    is there any evidence?……..
    one bit is

    Interestingly Biz4 HS2 (likely with tacit condoning from HS2 ltd and Ministers (as they didn’t object or stop the campaign ) payed for Westbourne Commnications (run by Lord Bethell a conservative (check out their google entries) to mount the Lawns for Jobs campaign and they also developed the ‘capacity’ PR notion and were also the organization that removed ‘speed’ from the HS2 mantra.
    WC was very candid in describing their campaign and their success with it.

    I reported the Lawns for Jobs campaign to advertising standards but it was by then ‘archival’.

    However like nasty pre-war propaganda it remains septic in the collective (it was sophisticated and clever but to my mind and some in parliament ethically improper) and was being alluded to as the use of ‘class war’ in the press yesterday. However this time with the cover story that this was politically motivated and by use of propaganda (as I say more reminiscent of pre war europe, through the socio-political marginalization of groups).

    In this pro HS2 case the victims of the campaign were ordinary rural/county people who were made into grotesque parodies of rich tory grandees and who will have had their assets stripped from them with the seeming backing of Parliament. The news from CPRE yesterday that the swathe of damage is 25 miles wide (from HS2 maps) and 500,000 people puts a numeric and demographic on the ‘Lawns” group that was being targeted and defines the damage that the Lawns for Jobs campaign was counter ie promotional propaganda.

    Similar tactics were used against minority/dissident/disadvantaged groups in prewar europe with the same use of propaganda grotesque.
    It is a shock to see such tactics used in the UK at this time when we seem to be otherwise developing Human rights and tolerance.

    “David Cameron is using class war to get his HS2 plans through”

    I believe we should monitor the pro HS2 lobby and their admen and any ads/ propaganda that breaches Ad Standards should be reported, this could include the unproven benefits/published falsehoods etc. The standards are to be found on the Ad. Standards website.

    We should also let our MPs know that we do not like being victims of calculated, politically motivated and immoral propaganda/marginalization we are free citizens and (like the more successful anti-frackers) have the right to a voice unimpeded by irrational hatred.

    It is interesting to see how vitriolic and hateful some of the pro HS2 posts on electronic media have become. Pro lobbyists have been stating that they are enjoying the spectacle of loss of house values, homes etc, that it is deserved and just retribution – based of course on envy and perceived prejudice of “rich” groups just as was present in prewar europe.
    I believe we should act to have such posts and their trolls removed from sites as the worst conform to legal notions of ‘hate’ .

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