“Why won’t our MPs speak up on HS2?” It’s Dave’s letter from Liverpool

India Buildings, Liverpool. Image: Adam Fairweather/Wikipedia Commons.

When I left my house on the morning of 9 June, I half expected to see the sky full of red parachutes.

The General Election is over and the overwhelming favourite won. Again. No surprise there, then. (Yeah, right.) But what happened in the Liverpool City Region?

Before the election, we had 15 Labour MPs, one Conservative MP and one Lib Dem MP: these were largely parachuted in, party-serving, career politicians who we rarely hear from when it comes to our needs. After the election we have 16 Labour MPs and one Conservative MP. These are largely parachuted in, party-serving, career politicians who I expect we will rarely hear from when it comes to our needs. No change there then. 

For example: did you know that the Garston & Halewood MP, Maria Eagle, was shadow transport secretary – and the Liverpool Riverside MP, Louise Ellman, chairman of the Transport Select Committee – when High Speed 2 was being pushed through Parliament? I don’t recall either one of them speaking out, in any substantial sense, about my city’s exclusion from the network. (Editor’s note: Ellman did back the findings of a Respublica report which called for Liverpool to be included in the network.) They both also consistently voted for the Liverpool-damaging HS2 project. (Mind you, Louise Ellman was parachuted into her Liverpool safe Labour seat from Lancashire*).

Indeed, I don’t recall any of our other local MPs speaking out loudly about this critically important local issue either. And tellingly, the latest Labour Party manifesto commitment to building HS2 also excluded any mention of including the Liverpool City Region in this massively expensive, government funded, major national infrastructure project.

The proposed HS2: stop the missing link. Image: Cnbrb/Wikipedia.

Obviously they must be aware, if I am, that in September 2013 a report from KPMG revealed the extent to which regions not on the proposed HS2 line would be negatively affected. This section of the report, only revealed following a freedom of information request passed to BBC 2's Newsnight programme, forecast that Liverpool could lose as much as £50m of economic output per year due to the proposals.

And yet, from our MPs, nothing. Talk about being let down and taken for granted by our elected representatives. Is this not proof that democracy is broken in this country?

I wrote to Maria Eagle, who is my local MP (parachuted in from Formby), about this on 30 May 2017, in response to the election leaflet that she put through my front door. She did not reply.

Meanwhile, “one of us”, to quote Mayor Rotheram's election slogan, Liverpolitan Esther McVey, was parachuted into – and duly elected as MP for – the safe Conservative seat of Tatton in Cheshire. McVey is tipped to be a future Tory Prime Minister, a job with real power, and sooner rather than later is expected to become a Cabinet Minister. It would be interesting to see what she does if her ultimate career ambition is achieved. For example, if she managed to move the whole of the Ministry of Defence from London to the eminently suitable Liverpool city centre, would we become a new London? Such a move would save taxpayers an absolute fortune and massively benefit the Liverpool City Region economy, too. What's not to like?

It is also interesting to note that neither Old Etonian David Cameron, nor St. Pauls’ product George Osborne, are MPs any longer – whereas the Liverpolitan ("one of us") Conservative MP Nadine Dorries still is. Dorries evidently called it right years ago, to some ridicule as I recall, when she described Cameron and Osborne as "two posh boys who don't know the price of milk". What an insightful woman she has been proven to be. 

Incidentally, an interesting – mind-boggling, actually – snippet. Financial group Legal & General is reportedly to purchase India Buildings in Liverpool city centre (pictured at the top of this page) for £120m from Shelborn Asset Management – providing the government Property Unit and HMRC locate one of their national hubs there, which they are expected to announce in the coming months. Shelborn Asset Management reportedly bought India Buildings for just £17m in January 2016. It goes to show what central government largesse can achieve. The London model, anyone?

One last thing, does anyone else see a resemblance between Esther McVey and Stevie Nicks? Or is it just me?

Dave Mail has declared himself CityMetric's new Liverpool City Region correspondent. He will be updating us on the brave new world of Liverpool City Region every month in “E-mail from Liverpool City Region”.

*Editor's note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly accused Louise Ellman of being parachuted in from Manchester. While she was born there, she has since been leader of Lancashire council. We are happy to make this correction.


CityMetric is now City Monitor! Come see us at our new home

City Monitor is now live in beta at citymonitor.ai.

CityMetric is now City Monitor, a name that reflects both a ramping up of our ambitions as well as our membership in a network of like-minded publications from New Statesman Media Group. Our new site is now live in beta, so please visit us there going forward. Here’s what CityMetric readers should know about this exciting transition.  

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Sommer Mathis is editor-in-chief of City Monitor.