May 2024

How can our politicians be so stupid?

Monday/ Tuesday blog

I wanted to write about something else today. But on Sunday afternoon I watched the Andrew Neil Show on C4 and almost fell off my sofa when I realised the utter stupidity of our useless politicians.

A speedy train in a tiny country?

I’ll make this part of my blog simple so, were any politicians to be reading it, even they might understand.

I’ve always known that it was ridiculous to build a high-speed train in a tiny country like England.

France is a big country – about 640,000 km2. The UK is a small country – about 242,000 km2. England is an even smaller country – 130,000 km2. France has an extensive high-speed rail network – the TGV. It makes sense to have high-speed trains in a large country. It doesn’t make sense to have high-speed trains in a small country.

Now let’s go a bit deeper. The French train route from Paris to Lyon to Marseilles can probably be seen as comparable to the UK train route from London to Birmingham to Manchester in terms of how it connects major cities. But the differences in distances are huge. Paris to Lyon is 292 miles, whereas London to Birmingham is only 128 miles. And Lyon to Marseilles is 488 miles, whereas Birmingham to Manchester is just 86 miles.

The much greater distances in France justify a high-speed rail network. But squandering over £100bn on cutting just a few minutes off the train time from London to Birmingham and then even fewer minutes off the train journey from Birmingham to Manchester is utterly ludicrous.

I don’t know how many readers have ever had a train set or even Scalextric when they were younger. But if you had either, you’d know that if you want to go fast, you need long straight sections. If you don’t need to go fast, you don’t need long straight sections. We don’t need the new train from London to Birmingham to Manchester to be high speed as the few minutes a high-speed train would reduce journey times by are insignificant. And if you don’t need long straight sections, it’s much cheaper to build the new railway line as you can go around obstacles like hills rather than having to tunnel through them.

It won’t even get to Central London

But what seemed to be confirmed on the Andrew Neil Show on Sunday is that the new HS2 won’t even go to Central London. Instead it will stop at some dump in North-west London that nobody has ever heard of. So, if HS2 is ever built, to get from Central London to Birmingham and Manchester will actually be faster using the existing (not high-speed) route from Euston Station than travelling up to the dump in North-west London to catch the (probably much more expensive) HS2.

On the Andrew Neil Show, a (IMHO) devious-looking, rat-like creature called Michael Gove gave the game away. When asked whether HS2 would go to Euston Station in Central London, the Gove thing said that the decision hadn’t been made yet. Then the (IMHO) slimy, slippery Gove started waxing lyrical about how wonderful it would be for regeneration of North-west London if HS2 started and ended its journey there.

Only in Britain could they build a £100bn+ high-speed train which takes longer to get you to your destination than a traditional Intercity 125.

As the truth about this disaster emerges, expect our politicians to alter their tune and now start claiming the real reason for HS2 is to ‘increase capacity’ and not to cut down journey times. So they’ll try to desperately downplay the fact that the useless thing won’t even take you to Central London. But as I have explained above, if the aim was to ‘increase’ capacity rather than reduce journey times, then there is absolutely no need for the vast expense of a high-speed line.

5 comments to How can our politicians be so stupid?

  • A Thorpe

    That definitively needed saying. The Gove thing was full of waffle from beginning to end. I think Andrew Neil lets them off lightly compared to the BBC “This Week” days. The new programme is more like a comedy show at times.

    A Gove comment that stood out for me is that all large government projects throughout history have been massively over budget and late, so that makes it OK now. They will never see this as a problem that they create, they see it as normal for such projects. Just as they refuse to see that they create the boom/bust cycles and think they are a normal part of business. I have seen inflation described as nothing but a government counterfeiting racket.

    The abnormally low interest rates have distorted long term economic decisions and we will start to see the consequences as interest rates and inflation rise causing bankruptcies as bad investment decisions are revealed. Governments don’t go bankrupt because of their bad decisions, but we pay the price in higher taxes and pointless expenditure. I have an article which I can’t find from the Von Mises Institute saying that governments don’t have the information to assess any project, as I recall, because they are not operating as a business in a competitive market.

    As I understand the Victorian period the investments in coal mines, railways and industry came from wealthy individuals and if they failed they became bankrupt. This is what should happen today but governments seem obsessed with supporting failed businesses to prevent unemployment, perhaps because of union pressure and businesses have been allowed to become too large and have too much influence on government. The governments bailed out banks but they really had no choice because governments have supported the bad banking practices and allowed banks to get too big to fail. This is good for the bankers but not for us in the long term.

    Gove was also talking about research investment. How can the government assess how to spend on research? We see what happens when they do this because it is always directed at a government interest and so the research teams give the government the answer they think it wants. Universities are failing because income has become more important than education and science.

    You have provided the evidence in recent weeks about the problems with charities, foreign aid, climate change and now how government funding of large projects are all failing. It is all done in an easy to understand language. The bigger problem for me is that I don’t understand why a majority of people don’t recognise these problems. I’m am sure the GB News presenters believe that we are changing the climate and it is only the rate of progress to net zero that needs to be slowed down. We make fun of the WEF leader but I think they know the game is up and there is nothing that governments can do. It is just a case of waiting for the failure to happen.

  • Stillreading

    The announcement was made of the curtailed HS2 at the end of last week. My sole comment to myself was “Quelle Surprise!” I don’t think I can recall a major Government-funded (i.e. Taxpayer-funded) project which didn’t go grossly over budget and, furthermore, failed to meet its original target in terms of performance. What did Concord cost us? How many years were the planes in service before the dreadful crash in Paris sounded its death knell? Could any ordinary UK or French citizen actually afford the fare to fly on it? I doubt it. HS2 should be cancelled here and now, before even more of OUR good money is thrown after bad. I’ve just heard an interesting item on R4 apropos the fall in prices of 2nd hand electric cars. Seems the Great Unwashed, who actually want to get from the South Cost to Grandma’s in Sterling before she dies of old age, are awakening to the almost insuperable difficulties of charging during long journeys, the enormously increased consumption of battery power in cold weather or when the car lights are on or when some internal heating is required, plus the excruciating cost of replacing a battery when the original dies. Despite Goddess Greta, Lord Green Richard of Attenborough, the endless “climate catastrophe” mantra trotted out by Auntie Beeb and the MSM, perhaps actual enlightenment is starting to dawn on those of us who just want a tolerable standard of living, even while the actual lights are in imminent danger of going out. How long before HS2 is formally cancelled? How long before “net zero” is acknowledged for the idiocy it is? How long before all Western governments, unable any longer to gaslight the irrefutable evidence of tens of thousands dead or irreversibly damaged, are forced to acknowledge that the “vaccine” programme was an egregious disaster? I could go on, but I guess that’s enough for now……….

  • Stillreading

    Apologies for the error in my previous response. I mean of course Lord Green DAVID of Attenborough. I was evidently remembering his brother, a superb actor – wonder what he would make of things now? The first time I saw him act was as the young sailor in Morning Departure, the Royal Command film of 1950 or thereabouts I think (John Mills was the Submarine Captain), when we were proud to remember what all our men of all the Armed Services had done for us throughout the previous decade.

  • A Thorpe

    I just read this in Tragedy and Hope by Carroll Quigley. Change the years and it is equally valid to today:

    “From the broadest point of view, the aggressors of 1931-1941 were attacking the whole nineteenth century way of life and some of the most fundamental attributes of Western Civilisation itself. They were in revolt against democracy, against the parliamentary system, against laissez faire and the liberal outlook, against nationalism (although in the name of nationalism), against humanitarianism, against science, and against all respect for human dignity and human decency. It was an attempt to brutalise men into a mass of unthinking atoms whose reactions could be controlled by methods of mass communication and directed to increase the profits and power of an alliance of militarists, heavy-industrialists, landlords, and psychopathic political organisers recruited from the dregs of society. That the society which they came to control could have created such dregs, men who were totally untouched by the traditions of Western Civilisation and who were restrained by no social relationships at all, and that it could have allowed the militarists and industrialists to use these dregs as an instrument for seizing control of the state raise profound doubts about the nature of that society and about its real allegiance to the traditions to which it paid lip service.”

  • Val Manchee

    Too much money falling tax free into certain pockets guarantees HS2 will barrel ahead regardless of efficiency, cost or countryside.

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