Unsurprisingly, the swivel-eyed and half-baked fools of the Institute for Economic Affairs (inspiration to the unlamented former Prime Minister) came out with a risibly inadequate and intellectually-challenged critique of the project. Given the government's institutional incompetence with respect to project delivery, their criticism of some aspects might have been justified. Instead, attempting to conflate HS2 with other, needed national and regional projects that might support it turned it into the kind of rodomontade that only libertarian loons could support. The IEA's spokesman, clearly incapable of rational argument and looking shifty, could hardly string a coherent set of arguments together.
Then you add the poisonous maunderings of the deputy editor of the Spectator, the farcical Melissa Kite, given houseroom in the Guardian. Ms Kyte's half-witted intervention was that it wasn't about millionaire nimby parasites in the Chilterns who are to be protected from the socialised transport system but the proles who live on their estates who might be disrupted. Kite is more a figure of pity than anything, given her posturing as some kind of throwback from Downton Abbey, but the mood music is hard to ignore.
Add to the mix the winner of the Labour Party's all-time Norman Lamont lookalike contest, Alistair Darling. Darling made a few cogent points about the need to ensure that transport resources are not all directed towards a high-speed rail network, but his grasp that the project will benefit his constituents in Edinburgh rather more than the denizens of Birmingham appears to suggest that he needs to take a course in basic economics where external benefits are actually considered.
The problem for HS2 is that it is now being promoted by a discredited government. HS2 provides a transport solution to a problem of disconnected regions and the need to provide more capacity for passengers and freight. The problem with transport is that many, otherwise intelligent people, are incapable of grasping the scale and interactions - taking Scottish and North-Western passengers off the current railway provides more room for freight (constrained at the moment) and more space to run commuter and regional trains (currently the subject of moaning about overcrowding) as well as reducing journey times. Not difficult, but the spinning liars pretend the only people who will benefit are those who travel to and from Birmingham.
Time for some truth, realism and honesty. Don't expect it from the IEA, or the populists - insulting the electorate's intelligence is too easy an outcome. But beware of the fools and the knaves who play into the hands of the reactionary, anti-people agenda. HS2 isn't perfect, but at least it addresses questions these charlatans would run a mile from if challenged about.