‘Why single us out?’ Bradfordians up in arms after Lee Anderson HS2 diss

Some of the half a million Bradfordians have been outraged by Lee Anderson’s HS2 quip

Barney Davis
Wednesday 04 October 2023 13:55 BST
(Visit Bradford)

Lee Anderson is in hot water for joking about Bradford the city that spawned David Hockney and iconic singers Zayn Malik and Gareth Gates.

Answering a question at a Conservative Home event from professor Anand Menon about the impact cancelling HS2 could have on local rail services in West Yorkshire.

The Ashfield MP asked the audience made up of Tory activists and members: “Is anybody from Bradford? Would you want to get there quicker?”

Deputy chairman of the Conservative Party Lee Anderson (House of Commons/UK Parliament/PA) (PA Wire)

The crowd of Conservative members guffawed and Anderson smirks to himself, before quipping: “That will be on the front of the Guardian tomorrow by the way.”

One man, who said he was from Sheffield, shouted back: “Cheap shot.”

Anderson added that HS2 was a “gamble” and “a bad gambler will always be throwing money at something”.

But Bradfordians were up in arms at the comments riposting by sharing pictures of the cobbled streets, crystal clear rivers and picturesque Victorian theatres that the recently nominated City of Culture for 2025 has to offer.

Susan Hinchcliffe, Labour Leader of Bradford Met District Council, hit back on X: “No one’s laughing here. Bradford is bigger than Newcastle, Bristol, Liverpool and Nottingham.

“We need a mainline city centre rail station to match our size and ambition. We have huge economic potential which Government need to take seriously.”

But author David Toft agreed with the Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party, replying: “I’m from Bradford, and he’s right. Quicker, I no longer want to get there at all.”

Bradford has been nominated for UK City of Culture 2025 (Visit Bradford)

One Bradfordian asked why Lee Anderson was singling the city out accusing him of “dog whistle racism”. Another said: “This would be funny if my dad’s mate John said it in the rugby club on a Friday night... but these are the people who are supposed to be our brightest and best and who have a vision for driving us forward and they just don’t. And they don’t care.”

Another local added solemnly: “Sadly, Lee and those who laughed will now consider Bradford’s concerns with HS2 cancellation as dealt with now.”

When the West Yorkshire city was named the next City of Culture on the BBC’s The One Show it sparked widespread celebrations.

“In football terms,” Zulfiqar Ali Karim, the deputy lieutenant for West Yorkshire, said at the time, “this is us being promoted to the Premiership.”

Following in the footsteps of Derry (2013), Hull (2017) and Coventry (2021), proponents say the year-long jamboree will attract investment, tourists and jobs to one of the UK’s most deprived cities.

It came as Rishi Sunak has been warned he is about to make an “incredible political gaffe” by scrapping HS2’s northern leg while saving the link into London Euston.

The prime minister is expected to finally announce that the Birmingham to Manchester leg of the high-speed rail project will be ditched on Wednesday – weeks after The Independent revealed he wanted to axe it.

The Independent understands from several sources that Mr Sunak will commit to building HS2 to Euston – rather than letting it terminate in the west London area of Old Oak Common – after intense lobbying from ministers, business chiefs and mayors.

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