Michael Fabricant
Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant has told campaigners that he is “not a supporter of HS2” at a meeting. The gathering saw discussion over the new proposed high-speed rail route which has removed the threat of a viaduct across parts of Lichfield – but seem the line moved closer to the village of Whittington. And the area’s Conservative MP told villagers that he understood their concerns but admitted he was forced to make tough decisions when it came to the original route. Mr Fabricant explained:
“I had no choice but to act immediately and try and persuade the new Coalition Government to rethink the huge viaduct across Boley Park which would have directly affected hundreds of homes.  Although the new preferred route will affect some homes, leisure amenities such as the Whittington Golf Course, and the countryside as a whole, it is still far less damaging than the route originally published by Labour before the General Election.  It would have been totally irresponsible of me to have simply done nothing.  But, of course, I would prefer it if HS2 were not necessary at all. “And scare raising stories such as that of a new 100 foot high viaduct by Streethay, not only unnecessarily alarms people and is false, it gives the Government the clear impression that some anti-HS2 campaigners are driven by emotion and not clarity of thought.  If HS2 goes ahead, there will, in fact, be a standard bridge across the A38 with the track less than 10 metres above the road before the approach to the A38 turn-off and some distance from Streethay itself.  All this is clearly shown in the maps that have been published. “But it will be for the national anti-HS2 campaign to muster powerful and numerate arguments using good barristers, economists specialising in transport policy, and consulting engineers to destroy the case for HS2.  If they are able to demonstrate to all that there are cheaper, simpler, and less environmentally damaging alternatives to achieve the objectives of HS2, the anti-HS2 battle will be won.  But mere empty posturing by campaigners and politicians alike will achieve nothing.”
The meeting lasted more than two hours and saw Mr Fabricant lay out his own views regarding the controversial issue of high-speed rail. He told local protesters:
“As a United Kingdom Member of Parliament I must balance what is best for my constituency and that of the overall needs of our nation.  So far, I have not seen convincing evidence of forecast rail demand that will require additional north-south HS2 tracks to be laid.  But similarly, it is for national anti-HS2 campaigners to present their own rational and numerate predictions of future rail demand and how these might be met by using existing rail routes and transport corridors. “It is still very early days.  Next month a public consultation will be started into HS2 and the new preferred route.  If that gives HS2 the go-ahead, then a special Hybrid Bill Committee of the House of Commons will be established in 2012 which will also take evidence in depth from all interested parties.  This is a public inquiry procedure, is not whipped in the usual way, and will last a number of years.  Whittington campaigners should tell the national anti-HS2 campaigns that in both processes, they should take the opportunity of presenting and justifying their own detailed forecasts of future rail demand and propose how this might be met if not by HS2. “Neither those campaigning for, nor those who are against, HS2 have yet presented convincing arguments for their respective positions.”

Ross

Founder of Lichfield Live and editor of the site.

10 replies on “Lichfield MP insists he is not a supporter of high-speed rail”

  1. When it comes to choosing between his constituents and his Party he normally sits on the fence so congratulations to Michael for coming out. The new MP for Cannock Chase says,as have a recoord number of new MPs this time, that he will always put constituents first. So which first for Michael? His Party of course! You can’t be seen to be voting against your Party as a Government Whip can you? And following the boundary changes there’s no need to worry with such a large majority unless we get AV maybe?

  2. @Steven Norman: “And following the boundary changes there’s no need to worry with such a large majority unless we get AV maybe?”

    Interesting comment – HS2 may present a unique set of local circumstances but the general principle applies equally well – if you want to make your elected representative more accountable, vote YES to AV, change the voting system and tilt the balance of power in favour of electorates (voters), thus motivating MPs (of all political complexions) to serve their constituents first and party managers second – seems like a no-brainer to me!

  3. AV will be see any chance of a voting system that tilts the balance of power in favour of voters gone for the lifetime of anyone reading this.

  4. @Andy: “AV will be see any chance of a voting system that tilts the balance of power in favour of voters gone for the lifetime of anyone reading this.”

    Sorry @Andy, but you’ve lost me with your comment

    You’ll have to explain how dumping FPTP will not enhance the influence exerted by voters because FPTP effectively entrenches the power of MPs, militates against the emergence of credible challengers, creates democratic deserts and leads to arrogance amongst our elected representatives – why bother if you’re sitting on a massive inbuilt majority?

  5. You think AV will have any effect on those massive in built majorities? The only effect it will have is to funnel votes into the three main parties.

    AV is FPTP, the post is 50% it effectively nails the system in place. Greens coming in on 31% in Brighton? Forget it.

  6. @Andy

    I’d suggest that your perspective is rather limited

    Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your point of view) Britain doesn’t do radical overnight societal transformation, a la 1789 in France etc. etc. – so we’ll have to make do with the incremental approach, which can often appear glacial in terms of its speed of progress.

    50 years ago Britain was essentially a two party state and FPTP probably just about worked then – in 1951 and 1955 Labour and Conservatives gained more than 95% of the votes cast and a very similar share of elected MPs in the Commons.

    Fast forward a couple of generations; in 2005 & 2010 the two major parties gained approx two-thirds of the votes, the culmination of a long established trend. Yet, FPTP and its warped electoral mathematics conspired to ensure that Labour/Conservative hegemony continues with the two dominant players securing more than 85% of the seats contested.

    Now go and look at the recent IPPR report “Worst of Both Worlds: Why First Past the Post no longer works” which you can download from the following URL (have to register first)
    http://www.ippr.org.uk/publicationsandreports/publication.asp?id=798

    If you care to examine the data you’ll discover that the rationale supporting radical reform of the UK voting system does not revolve around the fate of the Liberal Democratic Party – moving away from FPTP is a pre-requisite for any democracy with aspirations of a pluralistic diverse nature – in short Britain is now a multi-party democracy so your comment about three party domination is simply out of date.

    I’d be the first to argue in favour of more radical reform, multi-member STV for example but as I’ve stated already, Britain doesn’t seem to boast an appetite for overnight change and the vested interests amongst the two major parties will ensure that we are only offered limited choice on the forthcoming referendum ballot paper.

    One thing is certain, voting NO to AV = voting YES to FPTP so if you really want to entrench the dominance of our current political élites, go ahead and cut off your own nose to spite your face!

    Those who are thinking a little further ahead will be doing quite the opposite and planning for a progressive future. AV is just the first step on a long road, so a bit like HS2 really?

  7. I think you’re confused Peter. Voting reform and “radical societal change” are not the same thing. It’s arguable that they’re unrelated. Fanciful comparisons to 18th century France have nothing to do with AV and I’ve absolutely no idea what your comment about the Liberal Democrats was in response to.

    You seem to think that I support FPTP, I don’t. I don’t support AV either though which despite your confusion is a perfectly possible position to hold. No matter how the question is framed in the referendum voting no for AV is not voting yes to FPTP.

    This is not a chance for a first step on voting reform towards a more proportional system it’s the end of the road.

  8. @Andy

    I find it amusing that you accuse me of confusion yet you seem unwilling to accept that NO to AV = YES to FPTP – given the limited choice on offer I find it hard to reach any other rational conclusion.

    I’m assuming from your response that you belong to the it’s PR or nothing school of thought. Sadly a NO vote in May will deliver precisely nothing and the UK electorate will be stuck with a fundamentally flawed voting system for another generation – should that unfortunate circumstance come to fruition you will remember to explain to succeeding generations why the chance to dump FPTP once and for all was spurned?

    Whether it’s the end of the road or not, only time will tell

  9. You are confused Peter. Voting reform has been on the agenda for a long time and it’s got little to do with the Libdems. The fact that more of the electorate chose not to participate in the election at all than voted for the Tories or Libdems combined is a big part of the motivation for reform.

    Now you can tug your forlock if you like Peter, look at the choice on offer and think “not what I want but it’s something, I’ll suck this up and be grateful, indeed I’ll argue that others should do the same” but I’m not going to.

    PR or nothing? Why are you assuming anything about me, can you not just engage with what I’ve said? You’re wrong, I’ve no interest in PR what so ever, I’ve got other reasons for wanting to see AV fail but they’re not relevant here.

    Why do you keep posting about how bad FPTP is, tell us how much better AV is. What would the effect have been on GE’s say from 1983 to 2010 if we’d had AV? There’s two studies published, I’m sure you’ve read them, give us some positives and stop being so negative.

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