Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Peter Mandelson and HS2: Beware of Mr Baker

I yield to no one in my admiration for Norman Baker, but I do not think his widely quoted response to Peter Mandelson will do:
"It will create hundreds of thousands of jobs; be a major boost to our economy, especially in the North of England; and will help us shift to the clean, green economy of the future.
"More and more people are using the rail network every year so we desperately need more North-South capacity – unlike Peter Mandelson we can’t all hop on a private jet."
We all enjoy laughing at Lord Mandelson, but this is a good example of the ad hominem fallacy. A man could spend his whole life flying on private jets and still be right about the railways.

And, incidentally, you have to be pretty wealthy to travel by train these days if you want to travel in peak hours. I doubt that HS2 will change that.

But the most important point is this. Where is the evidence that HS2 will be a major boost to the economy, particularly in the North of England?


Lorna Dupre said...

Meanwhile, we could turn round the economies of places like Wisbech at a tiny fraction of the cost of HS2.

Sesenco said...

The reason for Lord Mandelson's volte face on HS2 is obvious. His close personal friends, Jacob and Serena Rothschild, have their principal residence at Eythrope Park, which immediately abuts the proposed HS2 route. Some of us will recall that a generation ago, the Heath government rejected the recommendation of the Roskill Commission to build a Third London Airport in Buckinghamshire and opted to build it in Essex instead. The proposed site just happened to be close to Ascott House, the principal residence of Sir Evelyn Rothschild. Both are/were dreadful schemes, and I delight in the fact that one was scuppered and the other is about to be. Nonetheless, I disapprove on principle of the ultra-rich having this kind of influence on government decision-making.

railwaymangwyn said...

If HS2 is really going to transform the North, then why not HS3 to South Wales, HS4 to East Anglia, HS5 to Cornwall etc etc etc?