I’m heartily disappointed in Douglas Carswell, Conservative MP for Clacton. Despite sharing many of his views on the EU, today he’s come out with something that irritates me and is, I think, completely nonsensical. In his Telegraph blog, he explains that, as much as he’d like to vote against HS2 on Thursday, he believes he can’t because it was in the 2010 Conservative manifesto. I have three arguments against this view.
- The Conservatives did not win a majority on the basis of that manifesto.
- That manifesto was shattered by joining into a coalition with the Lib Dems, the Coalition Agreement completely superseding it. Things have been done on both sides that contradict manifesto commitments – Lib Dems and tuition fees anyone?
- Most importantly, the facts have changed in those three and a half years.
This final point is the stinger for me. So Carswell now believes that if something was agreed to four years ago then it should be adhered to against all reasonable argument? The benefits of HS2 are getting smaller with every report issued, now down to a paltry £2.30 benefit for every £1 spent on the project. HS2 is nowhere close to the beautiful money generator we were initially told it would be. Under these circumstances, is it not right to reconsider your personal position when your party is backing a losing horse?
Also, I would point out that if a Eurocrat was blindly following a commitment that no longer made any financial sense, Carswell would be the first to criticise their folly. I wonder what his constituents think of this weak response to their own, very valid, concerns on HS2? I suppose this is when a politician has to decide whose side he’s on – his party’s or the people who could easily vote him out in two years?