Friday, 19 February 2010

Tories slide tackle Adonis

So the Tories have killed the consensus on High Speed 2.

Shadow Transport Secretary Theresa Villiers has declined to "give a political blank cheque to Labour" by refusing an advance view of the Noble Lord's HS2 White Paper.

Villiers also made clear that the Tories reserved the right to look at alternative routes.

Whilst this will raise a collective groan from the railway industry it makes sound political sense.

With sources suggesting Adonis' plan for HS2 will show the proposed route with a margin of error of as little as 25 yards there would have been howls of anguish from Tory constituencies in the Chilterns; None of which would actually gain any benefit from the new line whilst suffering all the pain of planning blight and construction works.

The other political benefit is that it hangs the Noble Lord out to dry. Non consensus allows the plans for HS2 to be kicked into the long grass for at least another Parliament, which with the current parlous state of the country's finances makes fiscal as well as political sense.

That said the Tories will need to come up with something else chunky if they are not to enter the election 'transport lite'.

UPDATE: This from Lobby Fodder...

I wonder if the decision by the Tories to pour cold water on Lord Adonis HS2 White Paper is in anyway connected with this story in today's FT?

The transport secretary has told London’s mayor that it is “not acceptable” for the capital to seek extra money to fund improvements on three underground lines, in a sharply worded reply to the mayor’s request.

Just asking that's all.

UPDATE: This, surprisingly enough, from Niccolo Machiavelli...

Labour would seem to have the Tories in a fianchetto if they publish the route of HS2 between London and the West Midlands before the election.

If the Tories support the route they alienate their own voters in home counties constituencies where Labour cannot prevail whilst merely sharing the credit in West Midlands constituencies where Labour is likely to win.

If the Tories criticise the route they can be portrayed as home counties toffs prepared to put their golf clubs ahead of the transport needs of the West Midlands

But with Adrian Shooter allegedly advising Theresa Villiers, the vision of Evergreen 5 could provide an effective counter.

And the Tories also have IEP up their sleeve (shome mishtake, shurely? Ed).

As I say in my book 'The Prince' (available as a Penguin Classic for only £2.99 from Amazon):

"The wise ruler does not overlook the cunning of ex British Rail engineers risen to high office".

UPDATE: This from Sun Tzu...

Can I support Signor Niccolo's comments on IEP being a Tory asset?

As I say in my book 'The art of war' (available from Amazon in paperback price £3.00):

"A highly expensive chariot fails to terrorise fleet footed infantry fighting in a swamp'.

That's enough dead psuedo management philosophy gurus. Ed

UPDATE: This just in from Will' Shakespeare...

I'faith, i know not what these men from foreign parts know about a railway of Puck like speed cutting through this realm of kings.

But as I say in my play Hamlet "for tis the sport to have the gricer Lord hoist by his own petard".

And the same goes for dead bards. Ed

UPDATE: This from Alfred Lord Tennyson...

Might I perchance inject a note of practicality into this discussion and ask what the Whig view is on noise issuing forth from this new rail way?

It was indeed I who conjured the phrase "The ringing grooves of change" and at the promised speed of 400 of those radical kilometres in the hour the ringing would indeed be loud.

UPDATE This from Mr Walt Whitman...

Might I...(Absolutely not. Literary Ed)

No more dead poets, bards and management gurus - please! Ed.