Andrew Grice: Not so much paralysis, more like 'waiting for Gordo'

Share

On the face of it, the list of Bills outlined in the Queen's Speech looked fairly routine and respectable. But in the Government's 140-page briefing pack, there was precious little flesh on the bones. The reason is that the crucial detail of many of the measures remains to be settled because Tony Blair will no longer be Prime Minister by the end of the parliamentary session which opened yesterday. The speech should have been subtitled "waiting for Gordo".

Gordon Brown is happy enough to go along with its main theme - security. Like Mr Blair, he is convinced the Tories under David Cameron are on the wrong side of the law and order argument in the public's eyes.

But the lack of detail was marked. The Government cannot answer many of the big questions arising from the speech.

It cannot say whether it will again try to raise the 28-day limit for which suspected terrorists can be held without charge to the 90-day limit defeated by MPs a year ago.

It can't say what it will do about House of Lords reform, the Trident nuclear missile programme, or give the contents of its climate change Bill. Why? Because the details still have to be agreed by Mr Brown.

That doesn't mean there is paralysis in government, as some ministers and civil servants had feared.

The wounds left by the failed September coup against Mr Blair led by some over-zealous Brownites are healing.

The Prime Minister and Chancellor are working closely together again, and working gradually through the boxes that Mr Blair will be able to tick before he departs and the ones he will leave blank for Mr Brown.

Despite the tensions of recent months, there are renewed hopes among Blairites and Brownites of getting the much-vaunted "stable and orderly transition" back on track.

Indeed, yesterday will be remembered not for the contents of the speech but as the moment when Mr Blair finally endorsed Mr Brown as his inevitable successor.

Last month, he refused to do so when challenged by Mr Cameron, fuelling another bout of speculation that a heavyweight Blairite such as John Reid would stand against Mr Brown. Mr Reid sometimes tweak's Mr Brown's tail by hinting that he will run. But Mr Blair acknowledged yesterday that there is only one real heavyweight in Labour's ranks.

His final Queen's Speech was a potentially difficult hurdle for Mr Blair, the moment it became painfully obvious that he is a lame duck. It might have sparked a new wave of "go now" demands - not least from Labour MPs, many of whom wonder privately whether he should hang on until next summer.

But Mr Blair reminded his critics yesterday that he is still a class act. On a difficult wicket, he looked as though he was "enjoying this", as Margaret Thatcher memorably remarked in the Commons bear pit - after she had announced her resignation as Prime Minister.

But Mr Cameron failed to go down the "lame duck" route, letting Mr Blair off the hook. In his speech, the Tory leader failed to match his strong recent performances at Prime Minister's Questions.

He was squashed by Mr Blair in a "man versus boy" fight that Labour hopes will continue when Mr Brown succeeds Mr Blair.

How Mr Cameron will measure up against Mr Brown is the $64,000 question. Until their battle commences, real politics is on hold. We are all waiting for Gordo.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior IP Opportunity at Major Firm

vary Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - AN OPENING AT A VERY HIGH Q...

Nursery Manager

£100 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Ilford: Nursery Manager Long term Ran...

Sales Consultant – Permanent – West Sussex – £24-£25k plus commission and other benefits

£24000 - £25000 Per Annum plus company car and commission: Clearwater People S...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£45 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Bristol: Supply SEN Support Jobs in Bris...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The Liberal Democrats leader says efforts need to be focused on cracking down on the criminal gangs  

Nick Clegg: We should to go to war on drugs, not on addicts

Nick Clegg
East German border guards stand on a section of the Berlin wall in front of the Brandenburg gate on November 11, 1989  

Twenty-five years after the Berlin Wall fell, Hungary’s PM thinks it is Western capitalism that is in its death throes

Peter Popham
The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

"I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"