Wednesday, 18 November 2009

We Are Not Amused

The Speccy's Lloyd Evans pretty much sums-up the impact - or lack thereof - of the most inadequate, partisan and self-serving Queen's Speech I think any of us have ever had to listen to. The Queen herself hardly seemed amused and with old lefty trolls like Denis Skinner loudly remarking that the current, hopeless Sergeant at Arms' legs were "better than the last one", you get a rough idea of just how contemptuous quite a large portion of the PLP is of Britain's parliamentary traditions. It was no accident, too, that the most glaring omission from Brown's outpourings (for that is what this was) concerned the small matters of the expenses scandal, Whitehall reform and the NHS. Conclusion? They just don't really care. All they do care about is trying to get re-elected. Newsflash, Gordon: it'll never happen on the strength of that meagre offering. The Spectator:
Even before the Queen had trundled back to Buckingham Palace, Mandy had let the cat out of the bag. Speaking on BBC News he said of the Gracious Speech, ‘All these laws are relevant … and achievable. It will be for the public to decide whether they want them or not.’ There you have it. The greatest power in the land admits the Queen’s Speech is Labour’s manifesto.

The response to the Gracious Speech is an enjoyably ragged parliamentary occasion, full of ancient traditions and even more ancient jokes. Frank Dobson proposed the Humble Address and spoke with pride about his Holborn constituency where the anti-Apartheid movement had been born. He met Mandela briefly after his release from prison and encountered him a second time when, as newly elected President of South Africa, he addressed a joint meeting of parliament. Mandela tapped Dobson on the shoulder. ‘You do remember who I am, don’t you?’

Seconding the Humble Address, Emily Thornberry announced how pleased she was to have been abused by Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail. It proved she’d arrived. He called her ‘scrumptious’ and ‘very county’. But Ms Thorberry corrected that impression and recalled her family’s eviction from her Guildford home by ‘bowler-hatted bailiffs’. Her single mother struggled on benefits and later became a Labour councillor – unusual in Tory Guildford – but the Conservatives were good enough to name a street in her honour. ‘Thornberry Way runs from the sewage works to the dump,’ she smiled. ‘Thanks.’

Over to Dave. He called the Gracious Speech ‘a Labour press release on Palace parchment.’ It was full of glaring omissions. No immigration bill. No sign of the promised regulations ‘to transform the culture of Whitehall’. And no mention of the NHS. This led Dave to deduce that ‘the NHS is not a priority for this government.’ That made Labour MPs very cross indeed. One leapt up and dared Dave to match Labour’s guarantee that cancer patients will be able to see a consultant within two weeks. Dave wriggled out of that one without quite making the pledge. He was then asked how he planned to maintain the army’s strength. This was bizarre. Labour MPs were acting as if Dave were installed in Number 10 and he had popped down to the house for his first PMQs.

Dave moved to Gordon’s record on employment. ‘The only jobs he has created are for his cronies,’ he jeered. He poured scorn on the ‘government of all the talents’, many of whom have taken ermine and moved to the Lords. ‘Never have so many stoats died in vain. Forget about jobs for the boys, it’s stoats for the goats.’

The most embarrassing omission in the government’s programme was the Kelly report. Cameron challenged Brown directly. ‘If he brings forward legislation to implement the rest of Kelly we will help take it through parliament.’ Brown stared down and pretended to fiddle with his papers. Dave tried again. ‘No one will understand why this vital work isn’t being done in this parliament.’ Would the Prime Minister accept Tory help? Afraid not. Gordon suddenly discovered he had something of vital importance to whisper into Batty Hattie’s ear. Dave swung a spotlight onto this Olympic display of dithering. ‘They’ve run out of money, run out of time, run out of ideas. And, we’ve just seen from the Prime Minister, they’ve run out of courage as well.’

Brown managed to raise the tone from low political knockabout to the loftier region of international relations. Afghanistan was on his mind. President Karzai had offered 5,000 troops (he didn’t specify ‘extra troops’) to hold ground recovered from the Taleban. And Karzai would soon introduce ‘an anti-corruption task force’. That sounds ominously like a new way to collect old protection money. Within NATO, Brown was pressing for ‘fairer burden sharing’ between the allies. Slovakia would shortly announce a doubling of its troop deployment.

When he moved on from the Queen’s speech, Brown relaxed a little and had some partisan fun with Dave’s proposals on inheritance tax. Labour rallied behind him, cheering with wild desperation like drunken sailors being kicked out of a party.

When Nick Clegg stood up there was an unseemly exodus from the chamber. The monarch, he said, had been asked to give ‘a fantasy Queen’s speech’. He questioned the need for yet more laws from a government which has already put over 500 measures on the statute book. ‘Legislation is Labour’s comfort blanket.’ Their proposals were full of superficial gestures. One example, a new measure against child poverty which ‘sets a target but doesn’t put a penny in the pockets of a struggling family.’ In the end, this was a Queen’s Speech written not on parchment but on rice paper.

"Never have so many stoats died in vain." That was good. In fact, most of Cameron's robust assault on Labour's "press release on Palace parchment", which I've just managed to watch, was good to very good - and sometimes excellent.

When all is done and dusted, however, and Labour's pathetic policy posturing (no action will be forthcoming on any of it from incapability Brown - and thank goodness for that) there is only really one question left for the electorate: what shall we do with the drunken sailor(s)? The rest of the lyrics to that wonderful old shanty provide the answers. They do not make pleasant reading for Brown's lame duck administration, which is now, surely, beyond salvation.

Praise the Lord!

4 comments:

  1. Glad I missed it. Half of it is totally redundant legislation that is (empty) gesture politics at it's worst.

    What happens if you fail to reduce the defecit by half in four years? Do you get scolded?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Cheers Adam. I only wish it were mine ;)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Good question, UB. Do you think people are dumb enough to fall for this or any of the other claptrap Brown put the Queen and the rest of us through in that derisory thing?

    I damn well hope not.

    ReplyDelete

Any thoughts?