X

Create an account to continue reading.

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles
For unlimited access to The Spectator, subscribe below

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles

Sign in to continue

Already have an account?

What's my subscriber number?

Subscribe now from £1 a week

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
 
View subscription offers

Already a subscriber?

or

Subscribe now for unlimited access

ALL FROM JUST £1 A WEEK

View subscription offers

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Login

Don't have an account? Sign up
X

Subscription expired

Your subscription has expired. Please go to My Account to renew it or view subscription offers.

X

Forgot Password

Please check your email

If the email address you entered is associated with a web account on our system, you will receive an email from us with instructions for resetting your password.

If you don't receive this email, please check your junk mail folder.

X

It's time to subscribe.

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access – from just £1 a week

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
X

Sign up

What's my subscriber number? Already have an account?

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Your subscriber number is the 8 digit number printed above your name on the address sheet sent with your magazine each week. If you receive it, you’ll also find your subscriber number at the top of our weekly highlights email.

Entering your subscriber number will enable full access to all magazine articles on the site.

If you cannot find your subscriber number then please contact us on customerhelp@subscriptions.spectator.co.uk or call 0330 333 0050. If you’ve only just subscribed, you may not yet have been issued with a subscriber number. In this case you can use the temporary web ID number, included in your email order confirmation.

You can create an account in the meantime and link your subscription at a later time. Simply visit the My Account page, enter your subscriber number in the relevant field and click 'submit changes'.

If you have any difficulties creating an account or logging in please take a look at our FAQs page.

Coffee House

The go-slow route to High Speed 2 may turn the Tories against the flagship modernisation project

29 May 2013

2:27 PM

29 May 2013

2:27 PM

Earlier this week the Major Projects Authority gave High Speed 2 an amber-red flag, informing the government that the project (along with the MoD’s two new aircraft carriers) is looking ‘unachievable’. To its detractors, the warning confirms HS2 remains little more than a pipe dream. In last week’s Spectator, Rory Sutherland bemoaned the 20-year time frame as reason enough to abandon the project and focus our energies somewhere more immediate.

But it didn’t have to be like this. HS2 remains in the doldrums thanks to a lamentable amount of faffing by the government. When the coalition came to power, most of the plans for HS2 were ready to roll. The planning powers to build the line — the crucial Hybrid Bill announce in this year’s Queen’s Speech — were not yet passed but there was little apparent cause for a three-year delay. Tories will be quick to point out that changes have been made to the plans, mostly in the form of extra tunnels, but on the whole the main route remains the same.


The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats took ownership of the project from Labour, stating in the coalition agreement their plans to ‘establish a high-speed rail network as part of our programme of measures to fulfil our joint ambitions for creating a low carbon economy’. If this had happened at the speed the then-transport secretary Lord Adonis bulldozed through the first swathes of red tape, the Bill would be well on its well through Parliament. Instead, the coalition has yet to even introduce it.

It now appears the HS2 Hybrid Bill won’t be introduced until the end of 2013, putting the first vote sometime in spring 2014 at the earliest. Just in time for those troublesome European/local elections that will fan the tensions between David Cameron and his party. Many of the Conservative grassroots movements, who are already very disgruntled with the same-sex marriage bill, will train their sights on killing off the Hybrid Bill. Expect another party-splitting vote, with significant pressure on MPs representing constituencies along the route.

David Cameron can always then take the easy option and delay an eventual vote on the second reading till after the 2015 election. Assuming the coalition is still wobbling along by this point, the Prime Minister will likely want to avoid any big fight. If the 2015 election does not swing in his favour, the next Conservative leader may very well turn against HS2 — to reunite the Tories, and fight Labour as the legislation heads towards Royal Assent. This would be a win for party unity, but another nail in the coffin of modernisation. HS2 was supposed to be a bold statement about Cameron’s intentions and ambition for the country. Instead, he may decide it is easier indefinitely delay the new line.

Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.


Show comments
Close