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December 2011
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HS2: the truth behind that Labour U-turn
By our political correspondent,  Robin Vivian

Scene: a strategy meeting in Ed Milliband’s office deep in the Palace of Westminster:
Political Adviser: Now the next item on the agenda is HS2. Ed, I was wondering if it might be time to re-think our policy on this?
Ed Milliband: Why what’s the problem? We’re against it aren’t we?
P.A. No, I think you may be thinking of CO2. HS2 was our idea.
E.M. Hmm… remind me why.
P.A. Well, with trains being the Green way to travel and with the need to improve links between North and South, we need more trains that go even faster!
E.M. That sounds like sense to me.
P.A. But Ed it turns out an awful lot of people don’t like it. There’ve been demonstrations and petitions all over the place and various influential newspapers have come out against it, not to mention some high-ranking politicians like the Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan. Even the Transport Select Committee’s endorsement of HS2 last month was heavily qualified, if you remember.
E.M. Um… not sure I’ve read that one yet. I think I might have filed it under Eric the Hungry Caterpillar. I don’t get much opportunity for reading work-related stuff in the evenings. So why are all these people saying it’s no good?
P.A. Well take your pick… they say the economic case has not been made.… that it will desecrate an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty… that it would make more sense to have a route coming out of Heathrow. Some people are even questioning why anyone should want to go to Birmingham at all.
E.M. Well we can’t have that. We’ve got eight MPs there for a start … and there’s a really good Burger King on the Ring Road.
P.A. Yes but Ed there is a real head of steam behind this one. The campaign has really galvanised people, in the Chilterns area especially. My information is that representatives of the parish of The Lee have been particularly vocal and persuasive.
E.M. The Lee, eh – that rings a bell. Wasn’t it in the Cock and Rabbit that David and I made our pact never to stand against each other for the leadership?
P.A. Too right it was! If you remember we had the devil’s job trying to keep it out of the Lee Newsletter.
E.M. Well those Editors are a canny bunch. Luckily that offer of unlimited supplies of Ed Balls’s speeches to plug their local pot-holes seemed to do the trick.
P.A. Never mind all that now – what do you think of the idea of taking advantage of popular sentiment to change our policy?
E.M. Well I know that’s the natural thing to do – but are you sure it isn’t going to cause problems? What about the bloke who thought up HS2 in the first place?
P.A. Andrew Adonis?
E.M. Would he be in any position to cut up rough? I mean, does he still have any influence?
P.A. Good Lord no! He’s in the House of Lords.
E.M. Well I must say it does sound tempting. Hell – let’s go for it! Have Maria Eagle tell an obscure group of businessman that we’re now backing a different route after leaking it comprehensively to the Sunday Times.
P.A. Good call, Ed. Right – shall we get the tea and biscuits in?
E.M. Just a minute – I think I might be on a bit of a roll here. What do you think about changing our policy on Europe in favour of early entry to the Euro?
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