Wednesday, 18 November 2009
Fast forward and, like so many actors in a presentation of 'Ruritania Resurrected', members of the Houses of Commons and Lords donned their finest attitudes and turned out en masse for a walk-on part in today's pageantry. Thumbed-up noses, to the right, quick march.
It really was an unbelievable spectacle, one which I've enjoyed over the years, but this year there was a poignancy and more than a touch of regret. The preening hypocrisy on display was tear-jerking. There was no pride, except in self, no honesty, no integrity.
The Queen read out the government's statement with half-swallowed gulps, sighs and hesitation. Will we ever know if she put up a fight against giving the Royal Assent to Lisbon? It's hard to believe she didn't know what was going on or hasn't been complicit but I really wish she'd been able to simply tear up the speech, spit in their eyes and process back to the Palace, leaving the pompous Brown and his government of the not-so-Righteous in disarray.
The speech itself was very short in comparison with previous years and the main points were:
'Enhancing' governance of the financial sector
Legislation to halve the budget deficit
Widening the provision of free personal care for those in highest need
Legislation guaranteeing to raise educational standards
'Protecting' communities by making parents take responsibility for their children's behaviour
Amending the communications infrastructure to 'make it fit for the digital age'
Supporting carbon capture and storage and helping 'vulnerable households with energy bills'
Protecting communities from flooding and protecting water supplies
Addressing differences in pay between men and women
Ensuring agency workers are treated equally
Pushing on with constitutional reform
Strengthening the bribery law
Banning cluster bombs
Two draft bills were also announced:
To reform the House of Lords and make it substantially or wholly elected
To make binding the commitment for 0.7% of government spending from 2013 to be on International Development.
To all intent and purposes, it was an enormous waste of money. Sound & fury signifying nothing - well, not even that really, there is plenty of sound but no fury, no guts in this dying government. It was a worthless, graceless speech and there is very little chance of any legislation being enacted before the next GE - for which we can give thanks for small mercies. After all, how scorched does the earth have to be before it's acknowledged as being well and truly scorched? Or, perhaps, the government is just salting the ground behind them?
Cross-posted from Calling England