As we face the climate emergency, one of the most disappointing aspects of the last 3 weeks at Euston Square Gardens has been the wall of silence from MPs and Peers, save the very few (thank you Caroline Lucas, Zarah Sultana and Baroness Jenny Jones) who have spoken up in support of the protesters and their aims. We know many more are opposed to HS2, for environmental, finance and governance reasons, but where have they been?
On the converse, we haven’t been short of those speaking out against the protesters.
Public school educated investment banker and now MP for Sutton Coldfield, Andrew Mitchell commented to the Sun Newspaper that Dan / Swampy was being ‘reckless & irresponsible’ to take his 16-year-old son into the tunnels. This seems highly hypocritical, coming from an MP who’s voting record shows he has consistently voted to send British teenagers to fight in wars overseas, and for profits over measures to save the planet,
Sadiq Khan’s news interview and email response this week focussed on the tactics being used rather than the reason why the protesters are there in the first place – and demonstrated a condescending and cynical greenwashing of the environmental disaster that is HS2. His comments are not dissimilar to those of Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, who again has focused on the tactics being used in Euston Square Gardens, rather than focussing on the bigger picture as to why they are there. Apparently oblivious to the recent efficiencies of digital working, Shapps commented that HS2 will be vital “unless we think that people are going to be able to move around in some other form… teleport ourselves or some other way of getting around”.
Before Christmas, Andrew Stephenson, Minister of State for Transport, said of protestors, “I will be responding to their wildly inaccurate claims and lies in due course. Nothing will stop this government in our determination to both tackle the climate emergency and level up our country.” Six weeks later we are still waiting for his response, details of the lies, and the evidence that HS2 is anything other than a London-centric project which will suck money and investment out of the North.
On the 1st May 2019, the UK Parliament declared a climate emergency. To date, we’ve seen no credible action. This inaction, alongside the comments of the MPs above, show how truly broken our political system is, how badly we need a citizens’ assembly to agree meaningful actions. They also show how essential non-violent civil disobedience like this tunnel protest really is.
So – what can we do? Keep putting the pressure on!
We know there are more MPs who are against HS2 – several Conservative and Labour MPs spoke up in opposition to the Phase 2a Bill in the House of Commons on the 19th January (Watch the Debate on Parliament TV) – but where have they been over the last 9-10 days? There are also 81 new Members of Parliament who have not had the opportunity to vote on HS2!