Her Majesty the Queen celebrates 60 years on the throne this year, her Diamond Jubilee. What a shame the Queen’s speech could not have been a more rousing, flag-waving, inspiring affair.
It’s not Her Majesty’s fault, of course, she doesn’t have to write it, not a single dot or comma (although I rather expect she reads it in a manner different from how it’s originally written). Sixty years of reading out the legislative intentions of her 20 various governments, with 12 prime ministers to boot.
How many time’s must her eyes have popped out when she read the draft?
How often has she remarked to Philip in the royal carriage travelling to the Palace of Westminster that it really is a pity one cannot lose one’s glasses on the way? As for what Philip might have said over the years, well this is a family paper and I don’t want the children crying or readers choking over their tea and scones.
About the only thing going for this year’s Queen’s Speech is that it has not had the pasting that the recent budget received. Well, not yet, anyway.
Maybe the Government has learned the lesson that leaking all the good news in advance leaves only the bad news to be discussed? Not that there was much good news to release, it all seemed rather vague, helping families and serving up homely apple pie.
There was a lot of speculation beforehand, mostly centring around the wrestling match between Conservative and Liberal Democrat backbenchers over bragging rights for who would have most say in its content. The honours seemed even; the Lib Dems got their way with the inclusion of the reform of the House of Lords and many Tories were relieved that gay marriage was not mentioned.
The fight is not over yet, though. Conservatives are understandably upset that a coalition that is not split in numbers 50-50 but five-to-one feels as if they are equal partners. Far more interesting was a clever jape by a group of Conservative thinkers fronted by David Davis and John Redwood, ably supported by a number of key Tory commentators and thinkers such as Tim Montgomery of ConservativeHome.com, who came up with the brilliant idea of publishing an Alternative Queen’s Speech – one that could be given by a Conservative Government if it did not have to bend over for the Lib Dems.
Now here was a speech that was worthy of the Jubilee, I can’t say Her Majesty would have liked it or not but I suspect Philip might have warmed to it. At least it was interesting and would get people talking rather than becoming a wrapper for tomorrow night’s fish supper and being forgotten within a week
Instead of the encroachment of the state into our private lives, at last a Conservative government could live up to its promises and do more to protect our individual rights – instead of promising to read our e-mails and monitor what we look at on the computer and keep mountains of records that will be lost stolen or left in a skip (rather conveniently next to a pharmaceutical company that’s just about to run a marketing campaign for its new cure for piles).
There were ideas for making energy affordable by cutting the subsidies that consumers are unaware they are paying and being able to choose the cheaper alternatives; moving more people out of the 40 per cent tax bracket; reducing capital gains tax; charging foreigners for health tourism and foreign truckers for using our roads; reforming trade unions so members have more say on where their political levy goes; renegotiating Britain’s position in the EU; forcing councils to be car-friendly and reduce road congestion; more powers for the Scottish Parliament; abandoning High Speed Rail and instead investing in extra rail capacity; and allowing only English MPs to vote on English laws.
I wouldn’t expect readers to agree with all of that and, due to devolution, some of it would only apply to England – but there’s no mistaking it’s a Conservative Queen’s Speech, not like the waxwork dummy of a Queen’s Speech that Her Majesty was obliged to deliver this week. Next year Davis, Redwood, Montgomery and Co should repeat this exercise, if only to remind us what a real Conservative government could be like.
Somebody has to trounce the fatuous nonsense that the Liberal Democrats are saving us from mad, bad, axe-wielding, sabre-rattling, blood- curdling, head-lopping, lunatics that would privatise the NHS, introduce a single flat-rate income tax and offer a straight in or out referendum on leaving the European Union.
Wait a minute, they’re not such bad ideas; maybe they could be next year’s Alternative Queen’s speech? I wonder what Her Maj and Philip would say?
Leaders hit the fan
The French and Germans work hand in glove in the European Union, so much so that the close economic alliance between Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy was dubbed “Merkozy”.
What a shame Sarkozy has lost his Presidency to Francois Hollande, any new alliance between Merkel and Hollande will have to be dubbed “Merde” – a prophetic nomenclature, methinks.