Sometimes it’s remarkable how an idea takes hold and won’t go away regardless of the evidence to the contrary.
A fine example is the suggestion that lack of a high speed rail Bill in the Queen’s Speech means the project has been delayed, as part of David Cameron’s efforts to placate angry backbenchers (some of whom are campaigning against plans to run high speed trains through their constituencies).
In fact, a “hybrid bill” giving the government the powers needed to build a line from London to Birmingham (a second Bill will be needed for the rest of the line) was always due in “late 2013”.
The Department for Transport’s business plan states that the Bill will be introduced in October 2013 and complete its passage in May 2015.
As the Queen’s Speech sets out the legislative programme for the next 12 months, there was never any reason to think the Bill would be included this year.
One of the most sensible responses to the rumours has come from Joe Rukin, head of the campaign HS2, who points out “we are not sure HS2 was ever meant to be in this year’s Queens Speech.”
But a number of pundits have insisted there is a “delay” – as have some opponents of HS2, who seem to be indulging in wishful thinking.
For years, Mr Cameron has trumpeted his commitment to high speed rail as a sign that the Conservatives are serious about bringing jobs and investment to the North of England and the Midlands.
Anyone who thinks he’s going to go into the next election announcing that he’s changed his mind and Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds can go hang is kidding themselves.
There’s a large empty space at the corner of Curzon Street and New Canal Street in Digbeth, opposite Millenium Point.
The Government is committed to building a new high speed station there (as is Labour) and deciding to leave that space empty would be an admission that Tories have given up any hope of breaking out of their southern and rural heartlands and becoming a party of the entire nation again.