Tag Archives: High Speed 2

EU Referendum – Remain in because…

“The moment there is a suspicion about a person’s motives, everything he does becomes tainted” Mahatma Gandhi

David Cameron and his cabinet supporters (with the backing of multi-national big business) have just published a leaflet entitled “Why the Government believes that voting to remain in the European Union is the best decision for the UK”. The estimated cost to the taxpayer is said to be around £10 million and now over 100,000 people have signed a formal petition demanding that the government stops spending public money on biased campaigning – a view supported by the Electoral Commission. Here’s a summary of Cameron’s Remain message with commentary in italics:

  • The EU is by far the UK’s biggest trading partner, therefore we need to be a member of the EU. No mention of a free trade deal achieving the same result, no mention of EU constraints on our ability to trade with non-EU countries. Just talk of how countries with relatively small economies have to pay to trade with the EU and must abide by its rules, plus very brief reference to the length of time the virtually no-strings Canada/EU trade agreement took to conclude. The UK is one of Germany’s biggest export markets – as a PR man, has Cameron forgotten that the customer is king?
  • Leaving the EU would put pressure on the pound which would risk higher prices on some household goods and damage living standards. The Bank of England has been actively seeking to devalue sterling for some time and this policy is supported by the government as a means of boosting  exports and the economy
  • Voting to leave would create years of uncertainty and potential economic disruption. “Nothing is going to happen if we come out…There will be absolutely no change…It’s not going to be a step change or somebody’s going to turn the lights out” Lord Rose, Chairman of the  IN (Remain) campaign
  • Immigration – the government has negotiated a deal which will make our benefits system less of a draw for EU citizens. Some 250,000 EU immigrants enter the UK every year and there’s no mention of by how much a temporary restriction on access to welfare benefits is going to reduce this number, if at all. The leaflet is equally silent on the huge pressure this creates on the NHS, schools and infrastructure generally
  • EU membership means UK police can use law enforcement intelligence from 27 EU countries. Why on earth wouldn’t this arrangement (if it exists in practice) continue in the event of a Leave vote?  And of course there’s no mention that the EU’s free movement rules mean that criminals and terrorists can travel from the EU to the UK undetected. “…pulling out of the EU would have very few security implications – neighbours help each other regardless…”  Sir Richard Dearlove, former head of MI6

David Cameron together with George Osborne and a few cabinet cohorts have decided to ignore the British tradition of fairness and integrity and have displayed zero confidence in the UK’s potential to remain a world leader and world trader. Instead, they’ve just sidelined the electorate which seems to be a deliberate policy. Remember their determination to pursue HS2  (the ludicrously expensive, blank cheque railway line that no-one wants and we can’t afford)?  And then there’s Cameron’s illogical overseas aid budget of £12 billion which amongst other things apparently includes a £35,000 payment to boost Panama’s hospitality and tourism industry. The UK has struggled to recover from the Blair/Brown government’s economic and social disaster and now it seems that exiting the EU to regain control of our destiny will need to be followed by finding a leader that believes in Britain – a genuine vote winner.

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HS2 – speedy alienation of the electorate

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/

 

HS2 Fastrack Fantasy

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.