Coffee House

The motherhood-and-apple pie Queen’s Speech

4 June 2014

There are three main aims for today’s Queen’s Speech in the mind’s eyes of the two Coalition parties. The first is not to rock the boat at all, introducing pro-nice and anti-bad policies on motherhood, apple pie, childcare, ‘heroism’ and growth. In their joint statement on the Speech, which you can read below, David Cameron and Nick Clegg describe it as ‘unashamedly pro-work, pro-business and pro-aspiration’. Cabinet ministers with bills that are ready to go, quite important but likely to cause a fuss have been told to keep them in their drawers for the next year at least, while strategists cast around for other non-controversial ideas from MPs and aides.

The second is to counter claims that this is a ‘zombie parliament’ with enough servings of apple pie to distract Labour from arguing that the Coalition has run out of road. This is particularly important for the Liberal Democrats, as they do need to persuade voters that Coalition can work, and a dead year at the end of a fixed-term parliament is unhelpful in that respect. But the Labour government had similar quiet years in the run-up to elections: to a certain extent that’s the way things must be. It’s just that the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act makes it even quieter.


The third aim is for both parties to claim credit for the majority of the apple pie, and previous servings of it, too. I understand that some of the legislation announced today will provide an opportunity for both parties to talk about their differing priorities – perhaps it will give them a chance to bicker about something other than Michael Gove and knife crime, which will at east de-zombify one aspect of this coalition. The Lib Dems need to get back on the job of reminding voters that they’re responsible for the good economic news, too. The Conservatives won’t do that for them, naturally. The Conservatives are also targeting two groups of voters with bills to show they care: Labour-voting parents annoyed by high childcare costs, and older voters likely to vote Ukip.

David Cameron and Nick Clegg’s joint statement on the Queen’s Speech:

This Queen’s Speech marks the next big step in our long-term plan for Britain. Its aim: to secure the recovery for our country. We want a Britain that earns its keep and makes its way in the world, with a strong economy, a fair society and peace of mind for all that live here.

Its guiding principle: to back everyone who wants to get on in life. We may be two parties, with two different philosophies, but we understand one thing: countries rise when their people rise. So this Queen’s Speech is unashamedly pro-work, pro-business and pro-aspiration.

Its centrepiece: ground-breaking pensions reform. The reforms we plan will be the biggest transformation in our pensions system since its inception, and will give people both freedom and security in retirement. By no longer forcing people to buy an annuity, we are giving them total control over the money they have put aside over their lifetime and greater financial security in their old age. It’s all part of our wider mission to put power back in the hands of the people who have worked hard – trusting them to run their own lives. At the same time we’re completing sweeping reforms to workplace pensions to give employees more certainty about their income in retirement. Taken together, this is a revolution that matches our previous reforms to education and welfare in giving people opportunities they were previously denied.

All of this builds on what we have achieved as a coalition. It is easy to forget when we first came together in the national interest just how sceptical people were about how long the Coalition could last and how much change we could effect. Four years on, our parties are still governing together and still taking bold steps. Four years on, no one can deny the progress we have made. The deficit down by a third; our economy one of the fastest-growing in the developed world; more than 1.5 million more people in work – and more people in work than ever before; a welfare system that ensures work pays; more than 1 million new apprentices; taxes cut; inequality declining and fewer children attending failing schools.

Of course, there is still a long way to go. But this Queen’s Speech marks a significant step. It builds on the foundations we have laid in the past four years, will help us make progress and continue to take Britain forward to a brighter future.

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  • Dean Jackson

    “My ministers will continue to reduce the country’s deficit, helping to ensure that mortgage and interest rates remain low.”

    What happens when the Monarch’s ministers are agents for another ideology? Queen Elizabeth had to read the above economic sabotage message given her by the PM’s office, a policy directive that effectively ensures the continued pauperization of the United Kingdom. It’s right there– “…ensure that …interest rates remain low.”

  • john

    Can somebody explain why we still have a Queens Speech? Its the PMs speech – why not call it that? We elect him (sort of) not her. Why do we persist with silly medieval rituals when we’re trying to compete in the 21st century? Nobody in Silicon Valley has a title but they do OK.

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    Loved the apple pie picture.

  • DaveTheRave

    Yes, let’s have an early election.

  • Mynydd

    Does Mr Cameron not realise when he comes to Wales he would have to pay 5p for a plastic bay, and we didn’t need the Queen to tell us to introduce it we just did it. There again plastic bag manufacturers don’t donate to Welsh Labour.

  • chui1996

    The fewer laws the government passes the better.

    • Damon

      Indeed. As Reagan famously said, ‘Don’t just do something; sit there.’

    • Grey Wolf

      Really? Thanks for the wisdom.

      There are places on the planet where your wisdom / vision of ‘fewer laws’ stands implemented – Afghanistan, Yemen, Haiti, many states in Sub-Saharan Africa. Will you relocate to one of these places and report back.

  • Denis_Cooper

    What we really need is a mechanism for the people to force an early general election at a time of their choosing, rather than the previous system of letting the incumbent Prime Minister call an early election at a time he prefers or being stuck with a Fixed Term Parliament Act where the decision rests with the incumbent MPs.

    A proper system for recalling MPs could be used to remove a government’s majority and force an early general election, but not the diluted bastardised system of recall which is being proposed where incumbent MPs must first agree to one of their number being exposed to recall.

    • goatmince

      We *need* mechanisms to force an early election? Why?
      Only because you failed to elect Labour outright last time round does not mean that you ought to have the right to destabilise this country in an Italian fashion. Patience dear, wait your turn and you will get back in.

      • Denis_Cooper

        You’re on the wrong track here, dear.

        If we had had such a system in place would we now be subject to the Lisbon Treaty?

        If you remember, Merkel was only able to impose that treaty on the British people because they lacked any means to force a general election before it had come into force.

        • goatmince

          She’s a clever lass that Merkel, isn’t she? Look how she is playing boy Dave on the President of the Eu commission now, curiously precisely the same way as with the EU budget reductions …

    • Kennybhoy

      Throw in full PR and a federal structure for Britain and you’ve got my vote! 😉

  • Alex

    Re pensions; I got a new state pension projection yesterday. Having been contracted out for most of my working life I won’t get the new higher pension; I’ll get the current one plus some S2P. That’s OK, but the projected S2P has dropped about £2 a week compared to earlier this year. So, given average life expectancy, in the last few months Osborne has put his hand in my pocket and quietly taken out about £1,200. Stealthy changes nibbling away at your money to keep Big Government going; it’s like Labour never left power.

  • MrsDBliss

    Motherhood? Great, they must be ending the tax discrimination against traditional, one income families? Oh, Waite a minute. It’s motherhood the noun, not the verb. That’s right.

  • Bert3000

    You can tell a politician has run out of ideas when they propose a tax on plastic bags. Stupid nanny state idea from a stupid nanny state.

    • Blindsideflanker

      Indeed, the plastic bags tax is a policy where the political class and media have been talking to themselves about and excluded the public. It was a Daily Mail campaign yet looking at the comments section it is uniformly hostile.

  • Blindsideflanker

    All their fine words are summed up by the legislative heights they wish to achieve by a plastic bags tax.

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