Speech was not fit for a queen

Given the choice, I’d rather not have watched the Queen’s Speech. There are better works of fantasy available, with far more impressively written scripts. Nevertheless, it is part ofmy role to keep up to date on what is happening; I saw it, writes cllr Shaz Nawaz, leader of the Labour Party on Peterborough City Council.

Sunday, 20th October 2019, 6:59 am
Queen Elizabeth II delivers the Queen's Speech during the State Opening of Parliament in the House of Lords at the Palace of Westminster in London. PA Photo. Picture date: Monday October 14, 2019. See PA story POLITICS Speech. Photo credit should read: Toby Melville/PA Wire YPN-191014-153102060

I felt sorry for Her Majesty. She was given poor advice from her Prime Minister to prorogue parliament the first time, which the Supreme Court said should never have happened.

If the Prime Minister is to be believed, that pause was to enable this particular speech. With a majority of -43, it is difficult to see how it will be anything other than a wish list, as impactful as a penny cast into a well.

Yet Johnson saw fit to make Her Majesty come to Parliament in all her regalia and recite what is essentially meaningless drivel.

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Start off with Brexit: Johnson apparently has made it a priority that we leave on October 31.

He has said rash things such as preferring to be found “dead in a ditch” than do otherwise.

Yet, due to the Benn Act, it’s difficult to see how he can avoid a later exit. EU officials have noted some movement in the negotiations as of late, but given the timescales involved, it is extremely unlikely this target will be met.

More public spending has been promised; however, how this will be paid for alongside deep tax cuts is unclear. The Institute of Fiscal Studies has wondered how this is viable, particularly in the case of a no-deal Brexit which it estimates will hit tax receipts particularly hard.

There comes a time when pageantry and show are no longer effective: the lights dim, the characters leave the stage, the theatre is still. What lingers afterwards is the truth. The fact of the matter is that Johnson was always more about presentation than substance; his policies are populism in their most raw and immature form, trying to appeal to what the public wants, i.e., more public spending yet lower taxes, and yet evading the difficult choices which are really required. In essence, it is a form of deception. Somehow, we can have it all. Somehow, there are no trade-offs to be made. Somehow, we will be the greatest country on Earth with foundations built upon the slipperiest of sand.

I have no doubt that both locally and nationally, the Conservatives will continue to cheer their leader on. Loyalty in itself is admirable, but surely in their heart of hearts, they must know that what was presented was a mirage, a dream, a wisp of a vision that will be blown by the first chill wind of reality.

I believe that it won’t be terribly long before there is yet another Queen’s Speech, provided by a different government. I look forward to a prospectus that honestly spells out the difficult choices that face us, and the judgements that were made. It will be something to admire, rather than dismiss.