Diary: Cameron's radical desires give way to return of the quangocrats

 

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The Independent Online

David Cameron and his ministers like to talk the talk of radical reformers, but yesterday's Queen's Speech was evidence that two years in power has taught them just how difficult it is to change anything much.

One of David Cameron's radical promises was that he would reverse what he called "the growth of the quango state". Yet one of the few solid promises in yesterday's thin speech was to set up a new quango, the Groceries Code Adjudicator, whose job will be to protect suppliers from the formidable market power of the supermarkets.

In March, David Cameron made a radical boast: "We are taking on the enemies of enterprise – the bureaucrats who concoct those ridiculous rules and regulations that make life impossible for small firms." In May, his Government announced that more bureaucrats are needed to take on those enemies of enterprise – the mighty conglomerates that make life impossible for small suppliers.

So, who's the real Commons disgrace?

Claire Perry, the Tory MP for Devizes, was not amused when Labour's Dennis Skinner interrupted the solemnity of Black Rod's appearance in the Commons by exclaiming: "Jubilee year, double-dip recession, what a start!" Annoyed by the BBC reporting that the comment provoked laughter, she tweeted: "Dennis Skinner is a total disgrace. Charmless, friendless and clueless. We weren't laughing, we were suggesting he, err, move on." This is the same Claire Perry who once complained loudly in the tea room that she did not get enough chances to speak in the Commons. "What have I got to do to be called by the Speaker? Give him a blow job?" she demanded. Charming, friendly, and clued-up.

No Lords a-tweeting

This is the 21st century and all sorts of bits of kit are used in Parliament that were banned or not invented years ago, including microphones, cameras and mobile phones. People tweet from inside the Commons chamber, just as they do from inside a courtroom during major trials. But there was none of this modern nonsense as the Queen read out her speech to the ermine-bedecked peers yesterday. Strict orders were issued: no tweeting from the House of Lords.

MP out to spoil Europe's big day

Yesterday was not just the day of the State Opening of Parliament, it was also Europe Day, marking the 62nd anniversary of the Schuman Declaration, a plan for European integration presented by the French Foreign Minister, Robert Schuman, at a Paris press conference on 9 May 1950, which is seen as the foundation of the EU.

That explains the European flag that was flying along the route the Queen took as a horse-drawn carriage conveyed her to Parliament, a sight that was interpreted by some as a sinister symbol of the spreading power of Brussels.

"As we listen to the Gracious Speech, we should reflect on the fact that most of the laws that will take effect over the next parliamentary session won't be contained in any Queen's Speech. They come instead from Brussels," the Tory MP Douglas Carswell wrote on his blog. "How apt that I should have spied a large Euro flag flying in Parliament Square on my way into work this morning."

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