Aswe know Grandpa Death and John McDonnell are planning to spend £1 trillion of our money on all sorts of lovely baubles. This is actually before they really start to get rolling with the Green New Deal.
So, what’s the argument against this sort of government spending upon investment and infrastructure?
HS2, that’s what:
Once upon a time, the HS2 high-speed railway was meant to cost £34bn in its entirety. In 2012, that became £42bn. Then £56bn was the magic number in 2015. Now we’re up to £88bn and a review panel says further increases are likely. So what does the same panel recommend? Astonishingly, it says HS2 should be built anyway. Yet more money must be thrown at this over-indulged project, it seems.
The report’s conclusion, revealed by the Times, is even more remarkable when you consider how the claimed economic case has crumbled. Back in 2017, the benefit to taxpayers was put at £2.30 for every £1 spent. Now the figure is £1.30 to £1.50 and, presumably, will deteriorate further as cost estimates go higher.
It is hard to believe a hard-headed board of a commercial company would proceed in the same circumstances with a mega-project offering only marginally advantageous returns. It would ask if any cost estimate could be trusted given that eventual completion is now not due until 2040. It would look in horror at the procurement mistakes and wonder if contractors’ negotiating clout is ingrained. And it would ask if better returns could be generated by alternative schemes.
Yes, quite so. Even at this – fiddled – evaluation HS2 is only marginally useful. A commercial company making a commercial decision would never go ahead with the idiocy.
Which is, of course, why we should have commercial companies making these spending decisions, not politics. So that we don’t get our aggregate wealth pissed up against the wall a la HS 2.
We do indeed need a decision making process as to what should be built, where, by whom and to what standard. Politics isn’t a good way of doing that. Therefore we shouldn’t use politics to make these decisions.