HERE’S a biff in the chin for anybody in Camden campaigning against the HS2 rail link. Natalie Haynes’s bizarre column in The Independent suggests that there hasn’t been much of a fuss made in London where homes will be flattened to make room for the big train. It’s actually more than homes, it’s a little community which now has a date with the wrecking ball.
Haynes today comes up with the odd notion that they are ‘up in arms in the Chilterns’ but not here. They are. Here. Now. Always were.
This is more than a little insulting to the people and politicians in the south of the borough who have done their best to get heard over the last 18 months or so – often in the face of confusing statements from the government and a consultation survey which seemed powerless for them to use to make any real difference. What’s more insulting is that Haynes’s piece tunes exactly into a problem exacerbated by the national media every time this issue has come up, the problem of who gets heard in our newspapers. The coverage has more often than not gone to Tory versus Tory battles in the countryside, on the assumption by journalists that these quarrels could in some way rock the coalition and have wider ramifications for who leads the cabinet and the government.
And, you know what?, here’s a big surprise, the coverage has gone to people with more resources than the tenants and leaseholders down in the threatened council blocks near Regent’s Park. People with famous names and big estates always find it easier to get their views broadcast. On the television last night, actor Geoffrey Palmer was clearly ‘up in arms’, from a picturesque place outside of London, but nobody bothered to ask what the pensioners in Ainsdale thought. They are up in arms as well, but it’s hard to campaign when you are in your 80s and not sure whether you are being booted out of your homes or not.
What Natalie Haynes should know is that just because the coverage and the headlines have gone elsewhere, it doesn’t mean there isn’t a beating campaign south of Camden Town – it doesn’t mean that people do not care.