Poor David Wooding. The Sun’s alleged Sunday political editor has come another cropper, this time over his inability to figure out that stories looking too good to be true usually are too good to be true, the latest being about the HS2 project. Had Wooding engaged brain and checked his story back to its original source, he would have put it on the spike in very short order. But he didn’t - and is now covered in rather more than confusion.
High speed rail in the UK. But not yet
Wooding made his fatal mistake in running a story last Sunday titled “Fast rail axe for Brexit … Tory MPs want to put halt to £100billion HS2 high-speed rail network to save money for Brexit”. In the fevered imagination of the Murdoch goons in the Baby Shard bunker, HS2 now has an even bigger and scarier price tag. But this, like the rest of Wooding’s witterings, bears no relation to reality.
Still, on he ploughed: “TORY MPs are demanding a halt to the £100billion high-speed rail network - to save money for Brexit … They have persuaded Theresa May to abandon plans to build a line linking London with Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds”. No equivocation there: Wooding has stated that Theresa May has been persuaded to abandon HS2. He claims it will not go ahead. He’s utterly deluded.
David Wooding - a totally non-partisan hack. Allegedly
So where did this highly creative claim emanate? Wooding cites Tory MPs Andrew Bridgen and Cheryl Gilliam, both of whom are vehemently opposed to HS2. But, as Paul Bigland has shown, the idea that the Tories would put scrapping HS2 in their General Election manifesto had been put about by one Joe Rukin, the campaign manager for Stop HS2. Rukin is known for optimism that is excessive to the point of dishonesty.
So when Wooding’s article claims “Downing Street’s policy unit is actively considering a pause to the project being included in the Conservatives’ election manifesto”, that routes back to Rukin. And where Wooding gets his claim “A government source said last night: ‘It is being discussed but it is by no means a done deal’” - ie that the Tories really are giving serious consideration to ditching HS2 - is anyone’s guess. It’s not true.
We know this as Theresa May has now squashed any suggestion that the Tories are going soft on HS2. As the Yorkshire Post has reported, “Mrs May has come under pressure from some of her own backbenchers, who see no benefit from HS2 for their constituencies, to use the Conservative General Election manifesto to delay or even cancel the project … The Prime Minister said: ‘We remain absolutely committed to HS2. It is a very important infrastructure project for the country. It is important that we increase capacity on this mainline and I believe that HS2 is the right way to do that’”.
The Guardian confirmed that “her announcement will end speculation that she was preparing to drop the new north-south railway from the Conservatives’ general election manifesto”. And if she committed a future Tory Government to deliver the project to Yorkshire, that means a commitment to the full “Y” network. No cuts, no buts.
All of which shows that David Wooding has pitched another crock of crap to his readers. Anyone who can’t be arsed subjecting an HS2 article to a reality check doesn’t deserve the time of day. Which means one thing: Don’t Buy The Sun.