Queens Speech Instant Reaction - What happened to radical reform?
Today's 'agenda for government' was an uninspiring, tired, watered-down 'borefest' writes UK Political Editor Harry Cole
Blink and you would have missed it. Today’s Queen Speech was one of the biggest anti-climaxes Westminster has seen in a while. The pomp, the circumstance, the charade, the parade - surely this must be going somewhere? Well no, not really.
Short. Snappy. Hollow. Vacuous. No ideology, no growth and no lifeline.
The overarching message that reduction of the deficit is still the number one proirity is welcome but in their second parliamentary term it would seem the barrel is being well and truly scraped. After the radical reforms in education and health that have seen pitched battles won by the government over the last year, today was a 'make or break' situation. A time for the government to plant its flag. Cameron is said to privately follow the career of Tony Blair with great interest - particularly his first term surrender to vested interests and unions that took the shine off of his reformist fervour. He once vowed that this mistake would not be repeated by his own government, but it seems that promise is long forgotten.
It was all rather vague: reforming of competition, reforming the electricity market, modernising the pension system. All very nice sentiments but where were the big measures that will get growth going? Where was the freedom and liberation for businesses to start hiring more people? Where was the incentive for individuals to weigh in and get the economy moving. Instead we got the promise of a new bank for Jenny Jones and Caroline Lucas. Brilliant. Instead of 'greening' the economy, how about we try and start growing the economy? Radical sentiment, I know.
It is no surprise that over the last year all the leaders around the world that have lost elections have been suffering from negative growth. Whether on the right or the left if their countries were growing the leaders survived. Today did not signify an agenda for government, it was more like a blueprint for bumbling on. If David Cameron wants his majority and Nick Clegg wants to avoid his party being wiped out whenever the election comes, then they are going to need more energy than this tired and watered down, uninspiring bore-fest.
After the coalition re-launch on Tuesday, the government will get a good news day as crumbs are dissected. But the storms are brewing and they should enjoy the temporary calm while it lasts. Any positive coverage today will likely be nullified by the appearance of Cameron’s former spin doctor Andy Coulson at the Leveson Inquiry. And if that wasn’t bad enough, his one time 'best friend forever' looks set to spill the beans on Friday. It’s almost as if the Prime Minister had other things on his mind when he was outlining his plan for this parliamentary session. Without the growth the election will be lost, and without radicalism and action, it will be a deserved defeat.
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