Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Coalition cuts, compassion and HS2

It is ludicrous.

Her Majesty’s Armed Forces are being decimated, thereby severely limiting the sorts of military operations in which we can engage in the future. We are told that Britain will no longer go to war alone.

Apparently, the French and the Americans will be called upon to assist.

One wonders if presidents Obama and Sarkozy have been informed of this.

And how they will ever be persuaded to lay down French and American lives in support of the British national interest.

And today we hear about everything else that is to be pared, pruned, whittled, chopped, trimmed, hacked, carved and slashed.

No doubt an awful lot needs to be and can be. Danny Alexander let slip yesterday that 490,000 public sector jobs will be lost by 2014-15 as a result of the spending cuts.

No doubt they can be justifiably cut: it cannot be right that we have a million more state employees in 2010 than we had in 1997.

Some budgets are ring-fenced: Health and Overseas Development are (unfortunately) immutable.

But one budget is expanding without so much as a whimper of objection from the Government (or backbenchers or Parliament).

And that is the EU budget, about which Daniel Hannan MEP has spoken eloquently:

‘Britain’s net contribution to the EU is rising from £6.4 billion this year to £8.3 billion in 2011-12 and £10.3 billion in 2015. But, of course, the net figure is misleading: the EU may spend some of this money in the UK, but rarely does so on things we would have chosen for ourselves. Much of the moolah goes to a privileged class of EU contractors and consultants; some goes on straightforward propaganda. Our gross contribution is rising from £14 billion to £19 billion – enough to cut council tax by half, take fourpence off income tax or pay of our Olympic debt in a single year.’

And the Coalition is still intent on spending £30 billion on a grossly extravagant scheme called HS2.

This is a high-speed rail link between London and ‘the north’.

It will cut precisely 10 minutes off the journey from London to Birmingham.

That’s £3,000,000,000 per minute.

It will decimate the Chilterns, blight 20,000 homes, rape the green belt, annoy communities, irritate pressure groups and probably lead to the resignations of Cheryl Gillan and David Lidington.

Why is George Osborne taking Britain into uncharted social and economic territory with £83bn of spending cuts in university funding, public housing and welfare when there’s £30bn here he could cut in one fell swoop?

Is he really going to cut the budget for sport in schools?

Just a few years before the Olympics?

Is he really cutting funding for the elderly and vulnerable?

If it costs £14.4bn for the Government to fund adult social care, and councils face a 4 per cent annual increase in the bill just to stand still, how can it be morally justified to cut this by 25 per cent (the reduction demanded in the spending of unprotected departments) at a time when the population is ageing and it is estimated that 370,000 more elderly and disabled will need care and support over the next four years alone?

This care is critical. Cutting it will leave elderly and disabled people to struggle on their own.

That’s not very compassionate, is it?

Come on, Chancellor. Why not just scrap HS2 and give the £30bn to school sport, the elderly and the disabled?

40 Comments:

Blogger Raedwald said...

I fear, your Grace, that economics continues to elude the modern Church.

Why spend to build a village church, when we could give the money instead to the poor and worship in a barn?

The answer, known to the ancient Church, is that in building a church you are exchanging money for an equivalent asset that will exert an effect for good for many many years; you have the same as before, only in Caen stone and rubble rather than gold, and generations of sinners will be comforted, generations of worshippers find God.

Infrastructure spending is investment, not alsmgiving.

20 October 2010 at 08:38  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

`It will decimate the Chilterns'

Meaning it will kill one in ten of the Chilterns?

20 October 2010 at 09:06  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

High Speed 2 is essential to the economic recovery of Great Britain We are the only country in Europe without an High Speed rail network - even Belgium has more. Opening up the country to the commerce of ideas, the exchange of trade and skills, the ability to create wealth must be central to the purpose of a reasonable fiscally prudent government. Everything else, sport , keeping fit, looking after the poor and the elderly is the responsibility of the individual and the family, of society. Ask Joe Public about Af-Pak and he'll say he wants out. Why station an enormous army in Germany? We need to get real about defense and face down the terrorist threat in our midst rather than worrying about the lunatic tribesmen of Waziristan. I suggest you re-read the New Testament

20 October 2010 at 09:37  
Blogger Graham Davis said...

Added to this list of woes is Mervyn King’s comment that we should expect “a decade of sobering up” to follow this spending review.
Well that must have been some party if the hangover lasts for 10 years! What amazes me is the lack of animosity towards the bankers who have caused this mess. Goldman Sachs has just announced the smallest bonus pool ever at £8.4 billion and expects us to be grateful. I hope that the backlash to these cuts (that will eventually come) will be aimed at the banks rather than the government. Perhaps we should sequestrate (a word not heard much since the miner’s strike) the bank bonuses and use the proceeds to put some aircraft on our carriers or replace the Nimrods?

20 October 2010 at 10:06  
Anonymous JayBee said...

The HS2 project will build a railway to the full continental loading gauge and it will not be scrapped because it is part of the European Federal Plot to absorb the UK. Given the economic crisis, exit from the EU and the savings it would yield should have been top of the list. The public need to be constantly reminded that most of the billions wasted on membership of the EU goes into the pockets of vested interests, euro-propaganda or straight down the Senne due to incompetence and corruption.

It is criminal for government to inflict unnecessary pain on its citizens and undermine its own defence capability while continuing to waste colossal amounts of money on the EU.

Who is this Government working for?
Get us out of the EU and some of the billions saved year on year could fund infrastructure projects and create UK jobs.

20 October 2010 at 10:06  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

YG

I also noticed, ne'er a mention of the EU elephant.

How can a budget figure be achieved if there is a hidden cost?

This is exactly the same mistake the last incumbent made.

The current incumbent are indeed the other two elements of the triumvate...all as economically illiterate as each other, with absolutely no clue on life in the REAL World.

20 October 2010 at 10:51  
Anonymous P. Burgess said...

Cranmer, I'm confused as to how you come up with the figure of 10 minutes saved between Euston and Birmingham. On the Wikipedia page that you link to it states that the current journey time is 1 hour 24 minutes and the proposed journey time with HS2 will be 49 minutes. That's a saving of 35 minutes not 10, which isn't so derisory.

20 October 2010 at 11:03  
Blogger Richard Houghton said...

Those making comments need to check their facts. Business case does not stack up. This is not investment and will not aid Northern regeneration. See HS2 Action Alliance which highlights six fatal flaws in the HS2 business case - http://www.hs2actionalliance.org/pressandnews.php?id=186

20 October 2010 at 11:57  
Anonymous berserker-nkl said...

Graham Davis is only half right when he says that banks have caused this mess. The Labour Government by their reckless encouraging of credit and lending - a lot to foreign businesses, by the way, and the Tories weren't much better by their total adherence to a free market. Did you hear any Tories kicking up a fuss about ramming credit down peoples throats. And Joe and Jill Citizen must take some of the blame as well. They said 'thank you very much, guv'nor' and devil take...

Jay Bee is right. 'Get us out of Europe'.

Why the Tories are so keen to make the pain, painful is that they have to fund our ever incresing costs of being in the Europe Club. Blair started the rot with his whittling away of some of our rebate. So it is as much about our absurd 'curtseying' to Europe than the dreaded 'deficit'.

20 October 2010 at 12:21  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@ P. Burgess

"That's a saving of 35 minutes not 10, which isn't so derisory."

Why can't those that want to get to Birmingham more quickly, just leave a little earlier?

20 October 2010 at 12:45  
Anonymous Tony B said...

>limiting the sorts of military operations in which we can engage in the future.

Good.

>We are told that Britain will no longer go to war alone. Apparently, the French and the Americans will be called upon to assist.

Like they almost always do anyway. Well, the Americans at least.

>And how they will ever be persuaded to lay down French and American lives in support of the British national interest.

Gratitude for us laying down British lives for the American and French national interest?

>No doubt they can be justifiably cut:

As one of them, I doubt it.

>it cannot be right that we have a million more state employees in 2010 than we had in 1997.

No, they and we are much better off if they are on the dole.

>Some budgets are ring-fenced: Health and Overseas Development are (unfortunately) immutable.

Yes, we call all do without health and helping those less well-off. (Interesting example of Conservative "Christian" values)

20 October 2010 at 12:46  
Anonymous non mouse said...

"Gratitude for us laying down British lives for the American and French national interest?"

Now that's the best laugh I've had for weeks.

20 October 2010 at 13:31  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon @ 09:37 20th: "We need to get real about defense and face down the terrorist threat in our midst rather than worrying about the lunatic tribesmen of Waziristan."

There are so, so many lunatics from Waziristan in our midst.

20 October 2010 at 13:38  
Blogger D. Singh said...

This is typical patronising Left-liberal racist thinking:

Tony B referring to the implied criticism by His Grace of the ring-fencing of the Overseas Development budget:

‘Yes, we call all do without… helping those less well-off. (Interesting example of Conservative "Christian" values)’

The Left-liberal believes that by taking money out of our pockets (through taxation) and feeding the world it will help the world’s poor.

Time and time again, simply handing out money to Third World countries means that money is channelled and deposited in Swiss bank accounts by its dictators.

The world’s poor remain poor thanks to the Left-liberals propping up dictatorships that extinguish the peoples’ plea for democracy.

Tony B’s Marxian doctrine ensures that their future is one of poverty.

Or is it the case that he believes only the British and Americans can have constitutional revolutions based on precepts in the Bible: ‘Give to God what belongs to God and give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar’?

The principal reason why Allied forces in Afghanistan cannot win is because they are concentrating on constructing infrastructure and not on changing social values. For example, the expansion of trade depends on the formation and support of contracts with the stranger.

Tribal society only trusts the clan member.

It would be far better of the Overseas Development budget to be converted to the British Government’s Overseas Judaeo-Christian Missionary fund.

20 October 2010 at 13:42  
Blogger Johnny Rottenborough said...

It being EU policy to develop a ‘European transport system’ by, among other things, ‘revitalising the railways’, perhaps the line has to be built.

20 October 2010 at 14:07  
Blogger Demetrius said...

There used to be a High Speed Line built to continental loading gauge between London and The North but it was scrapped in the 1960's. It was the Great Central and I once worked on that line.

If infrastructure, the money would be far better spent on electric uprating and connecting a lot of existing lines to creat a truly national electrified system. This would save both time and a lot of existing waste.

This is the big decision so far ducked by everyone since 1947. HS2 is simply a throwaway prestige stunt in this context.

20 October 2010 at 14:10  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

Who in their right mind would want a rail link which allows you to spend an extra 10mins in Birmingham?

20 October 2010 at 14:10  
Anonymous Tony B said...

Singh, quite how my thoughts called to mind racism I can't imagine. If overseas development (I didn't mention "handing out money") helps no-one, I assume you're in favour of closing down all charities, and I note that you didn't tackle unemployment in there. Or health.

20 October 2010 at 14:58  
Blogger LeucipottomySpoon82 said...

@ P. Burgess 11.03

Cranmer doesn't need trains, he moves by the Spirit, which is considerably faster than the rest of us.

20 October 2010 at 15:19  
Anonymous non mouse said...

Tony B - 'If overseas development helps no one.' You appear to have missed the point: under present systems of disbursement it helps the bloodsuckers, and it harms us. Plus we're even paying the predators for doing that.

Of course, the stone will soon be clean even of bloodstains...

20 October 2010 at 15:22  
Blogger D. Singh said...

It is your creed that has closed down Christian Adoption Charities.

It is your creed that ensures that Christians are sacked from the public sector.

It is your creed, Left-liberalism, that ensures the Third World's future is one of poverty.

20 October 2010 at 15:24  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Tony B

And did your creed address unemployment?

‘British jobs for British workers!’ Who said that in the context of companies taking on EU workers at the expense of British labour?

Labour isn’t working.

Health? You mean abortions paid for by the NHS?

Death ain’t healthy. Unless of course you are of the Left-liberal persuasion.

But that is your creed’s solution, ultimately, to all social and economic problems. It is your creed, Left-liberalism, that has turned this country into the ‘geo-political centre for the culture of death’.

Go ahead son, argue for assisted suicide.

20 October 2010 at 15:39  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Danny Alexander let slip yesterday that 490,000 public sector jobs will be lost by 2014-15 as a result of the spending cuts."

Oh really! This was an OBR prediction published early in the spending review - and it has already been the subject of political debate already - together with the matching prediction that private sector job growth would more than match it.

Matt London

20 October 2010 at 15:42  
Blogger Anabaptist said...

HS2: Doesn't it occur to any of you that there might be considerable advantages to getting away from Birmingham more quickly?

More seriously, Cranny, you were warned that this bunch of jokers (i.e. the government) contains no genuine conservatism. They are social liberals comitted to the EU project, and sold (literally) on the AGW/wind farm scam, which (merely coincidentally, of course) happens to enrich their families. HS2 is small beer compared to CO2.

20 October 2010 at 16:30  
Blogger Jared Gaites said...

Bizarre. I don't get it. "We're off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of Oz."

Yippee!

It makes you want to take drugs or something.

20 October 2010 at 16:30  
Anonymous Tony B said...

Singh, you persist in responding to me with nonsense entirely unrelated to what I said. I can't be arsed to respond to it any more.

20 October 2010 at 17:33  
Anonymous Ed Butt said...

It is thirty years since we last went to war for any reason other than to support an American President so I don't see a problem.

Britain's armed forces should be ready to defend our country's interests, not America's.

In view of the warning that the major threat to UK security is from cybercrime we need programmers and techies not airgraft carriers and fighter pilots.

As a former IT profesional myself I am ready to join Dad's Cypersoldiers and fight the hackers in cyberspace, in the IP sockets and on the hard drives.

20 October 2010 at 18:05  
Blogger Jared Gaites said...

Save EMA - sign the petition

20 October 2010 at 18:11  
Blogger Yes To HS2 said...

If HS2 were only about speed I could understand peoples concerns but it isn't. The West Coast Main line is already approaching capacity even after the recent multi billion pound upgrade. We need a new line and it just turns out that by making it to a high speed specification you gain more economically than you would save by building it accommodate "standard speeds"

I also wish critics would stop quoting £33bn all the time, that is how much an entire network would cost if/when it was extended past Birmingham, the initial phase from London to Birmingham will cost around £17bn, that will include the procurement of all rolling stock and the money will be spent over the next 15 years not over night. The argument of cost is over used and the critics who do not have much ammunition like to band about the £33bn figure in order to make it seem that they have the national interest in mind.

By 2033 all main lines will be full, even the most conservative estimates see an increase of rail demand of 100% by 2033. If we do not act now we will regret it in the future. Due to the nature of projects such as this advanced planning is needed so that we can satisfy our transport need in the future.

20 October 2010 at 18:15  
Anonymous PJ said...

Jared Gaites - support EMA, are you joking? That benefit that so many don't need and is spent mostly on alcohol?!

20 October 2010 at 18:27  
Blogger steve said...

We have no need for a high speed rail link. These links don't move freight just bodies. The money would be better spent on high speed internet back bone for the whole country. And putting extra carriages on the trains we operate now.

We could use the Chunnel to grow mushrooms......

20 October 2010 at 18:44  
Blogger Yes To HS2 said...

Yes another fallacy. We will all one day work from home. The technology is already there and people are already using it yet rail travel is still on the increase. People like to travel and like to meet face to face, this will never change. Unless you propose that we beam people down this broadband backbone. We already have supper fast broadband BT is even rolling out for small towns and villages.

20 October 2010 at 19:03  
Blogger Jared Gaites said...

EMA - Education Maintenance Allowance comes in weekly payments of £10, £20 or £30 which go directly into your bank account.

However, you will only get your money if you regularly attend and work hard on your course.

If you're eligible for EMA, the amount you receive is calculated by looking at your household income. It isn’t affected by any money you earn from part-time work, and won’t make any difference to any benefits your parents get.


First of all you need to be 16, 17 or 18 and have left – or be about to leave – compulsory education.

Your course
You need to be enrolled on a course in England which is one of the following:

•a full-time further education course at a college or school
•a Diploma funded by the Young People’s Learning Agency (where available) or a course that leads to an Apprenticeship
•a Young People’s Learning Agency-funded Foundation Learning Programme

Your household income
To get EMA in the academic year starting September 2010, your annual household income must be below £30,810 (for tax year 2009-10).


Your household income (for financial year 2009-10) How much EMA you get
up to £20,817 per year £30 per week
£20,818 - £25,521 per year £20 a week
£25,522 - £30,810 per year £10 a week
more than £30,810 per year no entitlement to EMA

If your tutor does not have you on the course attendance register - then NO EMA - so it is basically not a free hand out for alcohol like some pillock has suggested above!

20 October 2010 at 19:26  
Anonymous Lizzy Williams said...

Thank you for speaking not only common sense but in a morally responsible manner. HS2 is NOT investment, it is an international propganda exercise by those who will benefit from the £33 billion cash flow over the next 15 years. It is a Fast Train for Fat Cats. There is absolutely NO business case, NO environmental case that stands up to any form of scrutiny and we can not afford it and as a nation do not want it! See MORI March this year. People need to understand that this is a massive swathe of God's England at risk of utter destruction. It will be wider than the M25, completely sterile with non vegetation zones and security fencing all round and will divide this country in two. If built the legacy will last thousands of years. Communities along the line will be completely destroyed and Mr Hammond has told me directly to my face that he agrees there will be no economic benefits for those along the line. I am a construction professional with many years regeneration and value engineering experience. The way in which this project has been assembled is shambolic and completely single minded. It is environmentally irresponsible to encourage people to travel and to do so in an unintegrated way which is exactly what HS2 does. £30 Billion cut today on transport across the board but this £33 billion project gets a green light? before even the public consultation. I am fighting this with every breath in my body for many reasons and have walked the line and seen exactly what is at stake. We do not own this land; we were given this Earth to care for not destroy.God knows man is incapable of governing themselves but is allowing us to try (for now) and HS2 is clear evidence of how the pursuit of status veils common sense and standard morals. An obscene project. God will right all in the end but we should not allow unfettered disregard of what should be of value to us; communities, lives, futures and caring for our beautiful land in the best way possible to ensure each of us leaves this life knowing we have protected what God created for mankind not destroy the earth's future. Lizzy Williams www.stophs2.org

20 October 2010 at 20:18  
Anonymous Lizzy Williams said...

Thank you for speaking not only common sense but in a morally responsible manner. HS2 is NOT investment, it is an international propganda exercise by those who will benefit from the £33 billion cash flow over the next 15 years. It is a Fast Train for Fat Cats. There is absolutely NO business case, NO environmental case that stands up to any form of scrutiny and we can not afford it and as a nation do not want it! See MORI March this year. People need to understand that this is a massive swathe of God's England at risk of utter destruction. It will be wider than the M25, completely sterile with non vegetation zones and security fencing all round and will divide this country in two. If built the legacy will last thousands of years. Communities along the line will be completely destroyed and Mr Hammond has told me directly to my face that he agrees there will be no economic benefits for those along the line. I am a construction professional with many years regeneration and value engineering experience. The way in which this project has been assembled is shambolic and completely single minded. It is environmentally irresponsible to encourage people to travel and to do so in an unintegrated way which is exactly what HS2 does. £30 Billion cut today on transport across the board but this £33 billion project gets a green light? before even the public consultation. I am fighting this with every breath in my body for many reasons and have walked the line and seen exactly what is at stake. We do not own this land; we were given this Earth to care for not destroy.God knows man is incapable of governing themselves but is allowing us to try (for now) and HS2 is clear evidence of how the pursuit of status veils common sense and standard morals. An obscene project. God will right all in the end but we should not allow unfettered disregard of what should be of value to us; communities, lives, futures and caring for our beautiful land in the best way possible to ensure each of us leaves this life knowing we have protected what God created for mankind not destroy the earth's future. Lizzy Williams

20 October 2010 at 20:23  
Blogger Yes To HS2 said...

We do not own this land; we were given this Earth to care for not destroy.

Ha, that's why over centuries the people of Britain managed to de-forest an entire country in order to create farm land. Natural beauty, what utter rubbish. The UK is one of the most made made landscapes on earth.

If you want natural beauty move to Brazil. The UK is a small and cramped and nothing is going to change that, it's only going to get more cramped over the next few decades.

Only when the UK's transport system is on it's knees will people realise that we needed to go ahead with these big projects before they got even more technically imposable and expensive

20 October 2010 at 22:09  
Blogger Maturecheese said...

Yes To HS2 said...


We already have supper fast broadband BT is even rolling out for small towns and villages.


LOL!!!

20 October 2010 at 22:54  
Anonymous Tony B said...

>Come on, Chancellor. Why not just scrap HS2 and give the £30bn to school sport, the elderly and the disabled?

Because with the Tories, big business and finance trump every other consideration. Not that Tory ministers are in any way unduly influenced by those lobbies, of course. Perish the thought.

21 October 2010 at 09:23  
Anonymous Tom J said...

So pleased to have you back, YG, but at the same time sufficiently disappointed in this post to comment for the first time in two years or so of reading!

'Yes to HS2' has pointed out the technical innacuracies; the WCML is completely full to all intents and purposes and HS2 will release capacity that will also take hundreds of thousands of lorries off the roads each year, with the associated environmental benefits, to say nothing of those which will accrue when HS2 causes the complete collapse of comparable air routes.

As for 'decimating the Chilterns', this sort of flat earth thinking prevailed in many places during the last period in which important bits of railway line were being built.

Is the Settle and Carlisle line still deemed to have ruined the Cumbrian landscape?

Did the sea wall at Dawlish destroy the Devon coastline?

Is it equally repugnannt that the railways of the Scottish highlands are widely regarded as some of the greatest on earth to travel on - presumably because they open the beauties of the places they pass through? Even if there are no stations there, do the inhabitants of the Chilterns have a monopoly on their 'enjoyment'? I would love to live there but cannot afford to!

I am not the most ardent disciple of HS2 in its' present incarnation (the London end still needs more thought), but especially since the lead time on such projects exceeds the period of austerity our nation is planning for, it is not as counter-intuitive as is made out.

Building it in the next few years would be irresponsible. Preparing to build it as times improve is sensible. Many businesses lay investment plans to ready themselves for better days. For once, this is a businesslike policy from the centre!

Irrespective of this 'lapse' (it is not often, YG, that I feel you are dabbling in a subject with insufficient insight!) it is good to have you back. I am most grateful.

22 October 2010 at 14:22  
Blogger Yes To HS2 said...

Thank you Tom J, That's the only bit of sense I've read from some one regarding this project since I started the campaign.

Before people judge HS2 they should read the 500 or so pages of technical documents from both the government and independent agencies that I have.

Then they should put their case forward. I was told by an anti HS2 protester to do some more research, so I did and afterwards my support was strengthened, I then went on to write a 3000+ word essay on the reasons why I support HS2, I must thank that lady one day.

22 October 2010 at 16:19  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Newer›  ‹Older