Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Boundary Reform

The Conservatives lost a vote on boundary reforms in the commons today that means its all over until 2018 really. The Lib Dems abandoned them and no one else would help.

It serves as a good example of when self interest ruins everything. The Tories had the high ground wanting to reduce the number of MP's by 50 and change the constituency boundaries to even them out.

The 50 seat reduction has many origins as an idea including reducing the heavy number of Scots MP's now that they have a Parliament of their own.

Boundaries are changed roughly every 10 years so as to keep pace with population shifts. The current boundaries benefit labour by quite a bit and they did not institute change in the last years of the Brown/Blair era for obvious party political reasons.

The Tories are obviously desperate to redress the balance so as to assist them by the next election.

The Lib Dems didn't back the Tories because the reform would not have helped them and officially as revenge for the failure of Lords reform.

There are many other factors involved in the mess but it all reflects very poorly on politicians and the boundaries problem remains.


Monday, 28 January 2013

HS2 - a good thing?

Or not in my back yard?

I am far from convinced HS2 will ever get built. It certainly seems very very expensive for a modest gain.

Every shire Tory between London/Birmingham/Manchester etc will be against it.

Currently estimated at £33 billion, it will doubtless cost more and the governments economic benefit forecasts have already suffered credibility issues.

There are three aspects that annoy me the most a) the length of time it would all take (2026 is the current opening time), b) I have no doubt this will cost the taxpayer a fortune to underwrite and finance and finally if this is so good for the North why not start building it in the North first.

There are in fact loads of points I suppose like the proposed position of some of the stations appearing ludicrous, the cost of compensation will be huge etc.

Also I reckon it will adversely affect lots of regional offices of law firms, accountancy firms etc. I mean why bother having a large regional office when you can get to London so quickly via HS2. That's no economic benefit, that's an unintended consequence.

I really feel sorry for all those who will suffer blight and uncertainty, potentially for decades.

One thing seems certain to me and that is London will benefit most, it normally does. That's not to say that other cities shouldn't do more to improve, they should - eg Birmingham should sort out a rapid transit system then it could flourish etc.

We shall see what happens in decades time, when we'll probably all have hover craft and HS2 is a heritage attraction!