Simon Carr:

The Sketch: More a living will than a Queen's Speech

Share
Related Topics

"Check against delivery". That was the instruction on the front of the Queen's Speech. It's the one thing we don't have to worry about with our head of state. She won't get seized with inspiration and announce a "November Guarantee to create 30,000 jobs".

That was the highlight of the PM's speech in the Commons, incidentally. "Four new guarantees". We've already got the September Guarantee and now we are promised the January Guarantee. November and December? We'll just have to keep our nerve. It's a high-wire act without a net. How will we know that the guarantees worked? It depends whether anyone can remember what they are.

It all happened so fast. We glimpsed the PM's Day One Guarantee. No one was able to concentrate enough to find out what it was or what was guaranteed for Day Two or if it related to September or January. Informed opinion felt it might have something to do with ensuring that January starts on the 1st. We'll hold them to that.

It's probably been said before but it wasn't a Queen's Speech as much as a living will. They are to put into law things that they wanted to do themselves but couldn't. Thus, it will be illegal for future governments not to abolish child poverty. It'll be an offence not to give 0.7 per cent of GDP in foreign aid. It'll be breaking the law not to halve the deficit.

But as Cameron pointed out halving the deficit next year would take it back to 7 per cent of GDP, "the level that Denis Healey faced the last time Labour nearly bankrupted the country".

He said the PM's main interest wasn't in doing the right thing for the country but in trying to embarrass the Conservatives. It was "pathetic", he said, in that pleasantly demotic way.

The charges he made were more serious than he made them sound (he does scamper on, a bit). His every promise had turned to dust. There'd been a moral failure with the McBride smears and a monumental failure with the public finances.

There's no lack of material to accuse and satirise and vilify and torment Brown with. But he doesn't fall to pieces under Cameron's attack. Blair would have invented a new persona to really hurt his opponent. Something grave and saddened, perhaps.

But it was Frank Dobson's anecdote that lingered longest. In the 1930s a leftie campaigner was canvassing in a block of flats inveighing against German rearmament, the great cause of the day. The flat owner said: "Did you come up in the lift? It smells of pee, doesn't it? Can you stop people peeing in the lift?" No, the canvasser admitted. The reply: "If you can't stop people peeing in the lift how are you going to stop the re-armament of Germany?"

simoncarr@sketch.sc

React Now

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

Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Service Engineers - Doncaster / Hull

£27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Service Only Engineers are requ...

Recruitment Genius: Employability / Recruitment Adviser

£23600 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Employability Service withi...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

South Africa's race problem is less between black and white than between poor blacks and immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa

John Carlin
Queen Elizabeth II with members of the Order of Merit  

Either the Queen thinks that only one in 24 Britons are women, or her Order of Merit is appallingly backward

Janet Street-Porter
Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...