A meaningless buzzword, it is impossible to quantify it. Danny actually means to say that HS2 will “change stuff”, as if half the people between London and Birmingham hadn’t already worked that one out for themselves.
It joins the other unquantifiable statements rolled out by politicians, such as “healing the North South Divide”. A word of advice wouldn’t go amiss here: “if you’d just shut up about the North South Divide, maybe there wouldn’t be one”. But what do I know? I am from Sheffield, the south says it’s north and the Geordies say it’s south.
Politicians love to compare us with other countries, such as “Japan has had high speed rail for decades” and “we are being left behind by the French”. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want something just because someone else has one. Last time I looked, Cairo had a pyramid or two, they are nice to look at I suppose, but I don’t want one!
Surely decisions on British transport infrastructure shouldn’t be based upon ‘keeping up with the Joneses’? There has to be a better way of assessing a real need for something, like “is the country big enough to need a really fast train?” or more importantly “is there nothing more important for the nation to spend our money on”?
That’s the point, it’s our money, a big pile of it that we haven’t even earned yet. You’d think it was Dave’s and the DfT’s piggy bank, something to break into so that Mr Cameron can be remembered for something other than the gay marriage bill.
No wonder the Public Accounts Committee chair Margaret Hodge seems on the brink of throwing her hands in the air with despair. Every time we hear an update, the cost/contingency or suchlike has risen like the undead. I just loved her recent remark that “It sounds to me like there was no funding gap because there was no funding.” Sadly though, there will be and it appears certain that none of it will come from private sources either. In short, private industry wouldn’t touch it with a ‘barge-pole’.
When I think about it, the Yanks have a ‘Fort Knox’, which we are reliably informed is stacked with gold bars. Now that is something, that someone else has, that I would like one of. Because if politicians get there way with our taxes, it looks like we are all going to need one!