“Every election is a sort of advance sale of stolen goods” H.L.Mencken
“However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results” Winston Churchill
Labour’s key economic thinking, as advocated by Messrs. Miliband and Balls bears a striking resemblance to the policies of France’s socialist president, Francois Hollande. The president came to power in 2012 with a programme for more regulation, increased public spending, punitive taxation and a worrying disregard of the growing budget deficit.
These policies are now widely blamed for France’s woeful growth performance, the rapid worsening of public finances, unemployment rising above 10 per cent and a serious increase in social and racial tension. “This president’s policies have been terrible for French growth” (Robin Riverton, adviser to Aeroports de Paris) and Hollande’s approval rating has sunk to 13 per cent, the lowest for any president in more than five decades.
Labour’s high public spending, high borrowing and high taxation plans coupled with the unquestioning adoption of increased regulation (from Brussels and Westminster) are virtually identical to President Hollande’s. And the consequences will be the same. The successful recovery of the UK economy will stop in its tracks, unemployment will grow rapidly, public finances will deteriorate, foreign investment will halt, talented entrepreneurs will emigrate (as happened in France) and no doubt the future economic and social agenda of the UK will then be determined by the EU and the International Monetary Fund.
Adopting the catastrophic policies inflicted on France by President Hollande and now advocated by Ed Miliband is definitely not a vote winner for common sense.
David Cameron says those who oppose HS2 lack vision. The Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin says the strongest argument for the new line is freeing up capacity on the existing network. Labour’s current rhetoric is it will only support HS2 if its costs are contained (with no hint as to what it would do once the the inevitable massive cost overshoot occurs).
Yet there is still no convincing case for HS2. There are overseas investors willing to finance all manner of projects in the UK (nuclear power stations, shale gas exploration, etc.,) but HS2 has already achieved white elephant status with the international investment fraternity because it simply doesn’t stack up. The latest increased capacity justification seems somewhat lightweight compared to the previous “it’s about changing the economic geography of the country”. Well, if it’s serious about reducing network capacity problems in the south-east, why doesn’t the government look at relocating the Commons to somewhere north of Birmingham? It would certainly be a lot cheaper.
As the STOP HS2 campaign slogan says: No business case, no environmental case, no money to pay for it. What else is there to say? Based on the inability of the government to stay within spending targets on major projects, a final bill of well over £100 billion must be on the cards. MPs need to be made aware that in supporting HS2, they will be held accountable by the electorate.
For more information on STOP HS2 go to http://stophs2.org/
And to drastically increase the national overdraft.
The country’s finances are in a mess. The UK is borrowing the equivalent of over £300 million a day to finance its excess spending and incurring the equivalent of over £100 million a day in interest on the escalating national debt. The government’s stated policy is to reduce the deficit but how does that square with its support for HS2? Cost estimates for the project range from £40 billion to £80 billion and the main justification for this outlay seems to be ” it’s about changing the economic geography of this country…”
If it goes ahead, the outcome of this fantasy is beyond debate. Colossal cost overruns, massive disruption to the countryside and people directly affected by the route and eventually, a rail link requiring huge public money subsidies to remain in service.
“HS2 is about far more than a cost/benefit ratio … the wider benefits of HS2 are complex to quantify…” (Douglas Oakervee, HS2 Ltd)
“It has not been demonstrated that this is the best way to spend £50 billion on rail investment in these constrained times…” (Margaret Hodge MP, Chair, Committee for Public Accounts)
“A more convincing economic case for the project is needed. We need reassurance that it can deliver benefits … greater than those of other transport schemes.” (Andrew Tyrie, Chair, Treasury Select Committee)
There you have it. The country can’t afford HS2. The company behind it finds it too complex to justify. The chair of the public expenditure watchdog is decidedly unconvinced. And, the Treasury Select Committee sees no logic in it.
HS2 should be jettisoned now – tell your MP.