Former transport secretary and HS2 architect Andrew Adonis. Photograph: Getty Images.
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Andrew Adonis hits out at Osborne's "pure spin" over HS3

Former transport secretary says the coalition should focus on delivering HS2 earlier.

George Osborne's speech championing a new east-west rail link between Manchester and Leeds (dubbed "HS3") to create a "northern global powerhouse" has earned him praise from some unusual quarters. Joe Anderson, the Labour mayor of Liverpool, congratulated the Chancellor on his "bold step" during the Q&A that followed his address.

But one person who isn't impressed is Andrew Adonis, the former transport secretary and the architect of HS2. Adonis, whose growth review for Labour will be published next week (and which Osborne's speech was viewed as pre-empting), told me that the Chancellor was indulging in "pure spin" and should focus on ensuring HS2 is completed by the 2020s.

He said:

It's not going to be a high-speed line, he's just making a big thing of further upgrading the line. The big thing the north needs is to get HS2 in the 2020s, rather than the 2030s. What they've done is to divide HS2 at Birmingham, meaning the North will not see HS2 until the 2030s, whereas what they should have done, and I would have done, is to treat HS2 as one project, getting it up to Leeds and Manchester in the 2020s and of course that would have transformed connections between the North, the Midlands and London - the three big economic centres of geography would have been linked.

At present, phase one of HS2, running between London and Birmingham, is due to be completed by 2026, but phase two, running from the Midlands to Leeds and Manchester, won't be completed until at least 2032. Adonis added:

So having put the kibosh on that one, what he now does is to leapfrog the government's own failure by announcing a scheme which is in fact is only a further upgrade of a scheme that's already been announced, it's not a new high-speed line.

It implies that HS2 is now done, so we can move on to HS3; HS2 is not done, they stopped it at Birmingham. The vote two months ago was on the London to Birmingham stretch, they still haven't published a route north of Birmingham four years after I published an outline route.

The north needs HS2, that's what it needs. I'm not against any of these proposals, but to imply that they've done HS2 and now they're moving on to HS3 is, I'm afraid, just pure spin. HS2 does not exist at the moment north of Birmingham as a scheme, let alone as a project that's actually being implemented.

Expect Adonis's review, which Labour regards as its equivalent of Michael Heseltine's No Stone Unturned report (which it criticises the government for failing to embrace), to set out a far more ambitious vision next week.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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The vitriol aimed at Hillary Clinton shows the fragility of women's half-won freedom

The more I understand about the way the world treats women, the more I feel the terror of it coming for me.

I’m worried about my age. I’m 36. There’s a line between my eyebrows that’s been making itself known for about the last six years. Every time I see a picture of myself, I automatically seek out the crease. One nick of Botox could probably get rid of it. Has my skin lost its smoothness and glow?

My bathroom shelf has gone from “busy” to “cluttered” lately with things designed to plump, purify and resurface. It’s all very pleasant, but there’s something desperate I know at the bottom of it: I don’t want to look my age.

You might think that being a feminist would help when it comes to doing battle with the beauty myth, but I don’t know if it has. The more I understand about the way the world treats women – and especially older women – the more I feel the terror of it coming for me. Look at the reaction to Hillary Clinton’s book. Too soon. Can’t she go quietly. Why won’t she own her mistakes.

Well Bernie Sanders put a book out the week after the presidential election – an election Clinton has said Sanders did not fully back her in –  and no one said “too soon” about that. (Side note: when it comes to not owning mistakes, Sanders’s Our Revolution deserves a category all to itself, being as how the entire thing was written under the erroneous impression that Clinton, not Trump, would be president.) Al Gore parlayed his loss into a ceaseless tour of activism with An Inconvenient Truth, and everyone seems fine with that. John McCain – Christ, everyone loves John McCain now.

But Hillary? Something about Hillary just makes people want to tell her to STFU. As Mrs Merton might have asked: “What is it that repulses you so much about the first female candidate for US president?” Too emotional, too robotic, too radical, too conservative, too feminist, too patriarchal – Hillary has been called all these things, and all it really means is she’s too female.

How many women can dance on the head of pin? None, that’s the point: give them a millimetre of space to stand in and shake your head sadly as one by one they fall off. Oh dear. Not this woman. Maybe the next one.

It’s in that last bit that that confidence racket being worked on women really tells: maybe the next one. And maybe the next one could be you! If you do everything right, condemn all the mistakes of the women before you (and condemn the women themselves too), then maybe you’ll be the one standing tippy-toe on the miniscule territory that women are permitted. I’m angry with the men who engage in Clinton-bashing. With the women, it’s something else. Sadness. Pity, maybe. You think they’ll let it be you. You think you’ve found the Right Kind of Feminism. But you haven’t and you never will, because it doesn’t exist.

Still, who wouldn’t want to be the Right Kind of Feminist when there are so many ready lessons on what happens to the Wrong Kind of Feminist. The wrong kind of feminist, now, is the kind of feminist who thinks men have no right to lease women by the fuck (the “sex worker exclusionary radical feminist”, or SWERF) or the kind of feminist who thinks gender is a repressive social construct (rechristened the “trans exclusionary radical feminist”, or TERF).

Hillary Clinton, who has said that prostitution is “demeaning to women” – because it absolutely is demeaning to treat sexual access to women as a tradeable commodity – got attacked from the left as a SWERF. Her pre-election promises suggest that she would probably have continued the Obama administration’s sloppy reinterpretation of sex discrimination protections as gender identity protections, so not a TERF. Even so, one of the charges against her from those who considered her not radical enough was that she was a “rich, white, cis lady.” Linger over that. Savour its absurdity. Because what it means is: I won’t be excited about a woman presidential candidate who was born female.

This year was the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality, and of the Abortion Act. One of these was met with seasons of celebratory programming; one, barely mentioned at all. (I took part in a radio documentary about “men’s emotional experiences of abortion”, where I made the apparently radical point that abortion is actually something that principally affects women.) No surprise that the landmark benefiting women was the one that got ignored. Because women don’t get to have history.

That urge to shuffle women off the stage – troublesome women, complicated women, brilliant women – means that female achievements are wiped of all significance as soon as they’re made. The second wave was “problematic”, so better not to expose yourself to Dworkin, Raymond, Lorde, Millett, the Combahee River Collective, Firestone or de Beauvoir (except for that one line that everyone misquotes as if it means that sex is of no significance). Call them SWERFs and TERFs and leave the books unread. Hillary Clinton “wasn’t perfect”, so don’t listen to anything she has to say based on her vast and unique experience of government and politics: just deride, deride, deride.

Maybe, if you’re a woman, you’ll be able to deride her hard enough to show you deserve what she didn’t. But you’ll still have feminine obsolescence yawning in your future. Even if you can’t admit it – because, as Katrine Marçal has pointed out in Who Cooked Adam Smith’s Dinner?, our entire economy is predicated on discounting women’s work – you’ll need the politics of women who analysed and understood their situation as women. You’ll still be a woman, like the women who came before us, to whom we owe the impossible debt of our half-won freedom.

In the summer of 2016, a radio interviewer asked me whether women should be grateful to Clinton. At the time, I said no: we should be respectful, but what I wanted was a future where women could take their place in the world for granted. What nonsense. We should be laying down armfuls of flowers for our foremothers every day.

Sarah Ditum is a journalist who writes regularly for the Guardian, New Statesman and others. Her website is here.