Queens Speech; A damp squib…..
So, the Queens Speech has been and gone and if you did blink you may well have missed it. We can easily brush aside the criticism of the Speech that it was ‘electioneering’; as if this has never happened and all the past ones had been totally non-political. Looking through the Speech there is a clear indication that the Labour Party is looking rather tired in government and is in desperate need of an injection of bold and radical policy ideas.
Some things are to be welcomed; for example, the bill to ban cluster munitions is long overdue although one can reasonably expect some devil in the detail. However, it is in bills like the Fiscal Responsibility Bill that we see the tiredness of the government; the notion that there should be obligation in law to halve the budget deficit is absurd. Much like the Child Poverty target it’s sole use is as a political stick with which to beat the next government; handy if your headed out of office as Labour is.
Similarly, Personal Care at Home Bill; described as the ‘first step to establishing a national care service’ is a plea for re-election to ensure completion. Having said that it is still a welcome move and one that hopefully will not be squeezed out of the legislative program.
If, as has been suggested, the Speech is intended to promote the role of the state as opposed to Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ then it is truly a mixed-bag. For example, making it a legal obligation for the public sector to narrow the gap between the rich and poor is a good example of legislating for something the government should be doing as a matter of course and shows that there is a problem enshrining abstract aims and objectives into legislation. Those who believe that the state can be a positive agent of social change have to put forward more than this and actually win the debate with concrete action.
Legislating aims and aspirations tend to suggest a lack of clear idea about the actual doing part of achieving those aims and aspirations and that is the problem with this Queens Speech and indeed it tells us alot about the wider problems with this government.