Michael Brown: A waste of Her Majesty's time – and Parliament's

The lawto cut the deficit is as pointless as proposing when the sun should shine

Share
Related Topics

"My Lords and Members of the House of Commons, I know this speech is a complete waste of my time – and yours. I will have to return in 26 weeks' time (although I know many of you in the Commons will not) when my new government will at least have a mandate to introduce a programme for a full Parliament – backed by the authority of my people.

"Nevertheless, this fag-end Government has made me read out what the Leader of my loyal Opposition has already described as a 'Labour press release written on palace parchment'. While my present Government's top priority is to try to win the next general election, I suspect that with less than 70 sitting days available to you, few of these measures will actually receive my Royal Assent."

Those were the thoughts that might have been in the mind of Her Majesty as she read out the words, yesterday, stuffed into her mouth by Gordon Brown. Of course the Queen's Speech was the unofficial start of the general election campaign, with Gordon Brown trying to set land mines around the Tories – should they dare to frustrate the passage of Bills such as those to provide free personal home care for the elderly and disabled, and to "guarantee" specific educational standards to be achieved by pupils.

I suspect, however, that David Cameron is already far too experienced a political operator to fall into such traps and will give broad support for such measures – in the certain knowledge that parliamentary time will run out in the House of Lords by the time of the dissolution next spring.

He will be able to say to voters anyway that, if elected, he has a far more radical set of reforms dealing with long-term care for the elderly, based on the insurance principle, who will no longer have to sell their homes to fund residential care. And his education policies, allowing voluntary groups to be given state cash to set up new schools, are more likely to raise educational standards than yet another Labour education Bill that will change nothing for parents and pupils between now and the general election.

As for a law to cut the deficit by half, within four years, Mr Brown might just as well also have introduced a measure proposing on what days the sun should shine. We have had Treasury guidelines regarding borrowing that were forgotten the second the going got rough. Simply passing a law – rather than sticking with Gordon Brown's so-called "golden rules" – changes nothing unless we see detailed cuts in public expenditure and further tax increases this side of the election.

In any event, what would be the legal penalties for failure? I can't quite see the Chancellor being jailed should he fail to achieve the objective. In the meantime the deficit will balloon until polling day with Labour continuing to rack up more debt far in excess of the limit on the national credit card.

The Tories should have little difficulty in ridiculing the deficit reduction Bill along with the proposals for the FSA to address obscene bankers' bonuses as pure window dressing. Insofar as the Government can make a case for such legislation these Bills are required to clean up the mess of the Government's own making. "Who created the deficit and the circumstances which allowed the banks to pay out obscene bonuses in the first place?" is a rhetorical question the Tories will ask at every stage during the the passage of these Bills.

If the remaining weeks of the current session are to serve any constructive purpose, the ideas advanced by Nick Clegg this week in The Independent should have been considered. This rotten Parliament – which will go down in history as the "moat" or "manure" Parliament – could redeem itself by addressing some outstanding issues of constitutional reform relating to the voting system and the House of Lords that are bound to be buried by other legislative priorities once the election is over. Sadly, the opportunity to bequeath such a legacy has been lost by Mr Brown's unseemly desire to abuse the purpose of the Queen's Speech.

React Now

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

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Yvette Cooper campaigning in London at the launch of Labour’s women’s manifesto  

I want the Labour Party to lead a revolution in family support

Yvette Cooper
Liz Kendall  

Labour leadership contest: 'Moderniser' is just a vague and overused label

Steve Richards
Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine