The initial outlay of over £17bn is supposed to fund the HS2 line from London to Birmingham. The line will be electrified because electricity is considered cleaner than diesel. In the years that follow the plan is to extend the line to Manchester and then on to Scotland, increasing the cost to at least £33bn.
This is a shining example of the short sightedness, idiocy, ignorance, dogma, call it what you will, of the government’s spending priorities. There is not a pressing need for this expensive rail line – although as Richard North makes clear on EU Referendum, there are certainly political pressures at play for it. Yet there is real concern about the ability of this country to produce the power it needs to keep the lights on.
£17bn could pay for the construction and eventual decommission of at least five nuclear power stations. One would think that would be a priority. Instead the government chooses to construct something that will draw power from the grid, not something that puts power into it.
It is bad enough that this government has a fetish for unreliable wind power and puts huge sums of taxpayers’ money into subsidy for its provision. But it is worse that the government refuses to subsidise new nuclear build that would benefit millions of people and instead chooses to channel huge sums of money into one small section of the rail network that will benefit a very limited number of people.
There is no shortage of tax pounds going to HM Treasury. But there is a problem with the decisions about how that money is used. Increasingly it is frittered away, diverted to whims and fancies of the political elite, rather than allocated to the delivery of quality essential services for the population.
No matter how much we complain or shout in protest, the political class is unmoved. This is proof that we do not live in a democracy. Elections may take place, but the decisions of the political class are not controlled by the electorate. Consultation about the HS2 line saw an overwhelming majority of respondants reject the principles, specification and route selection for HS2, but their views were dismissed out of hand.
Democracy is about more than putting an ‘X’ on a ballot paper, it is about representatives who are elected doing our bidding. In what way are the political class doing our bidding?
Update: If you use Twitter you might be interested in contributing to this – #betteruseof32bn