Retrospective. What did we learn from the Queen's Speech?

17 Jun 2014

In essence, the Queen's Speech seems to have been all but forgotten. And to a certain extent that forget is justified. For, the speech itself was, let us be honest, pretty boring. The only thing that tickled the bellies of a few politicians was a recall policy that seemingly, and increasingly, looks unworkable. Even one Goldsmith MP, a large advocate for 'true' recall, described it as practically a travesty. For, simply put, the people do not get more power to oust their MP through increasing the powers of a parliamentary committee. Indeed, I am certainly not in favour of a 'Goldsmithian' recall policy. In fact, I do not think that there should be a recall policy at all. We already have, set in place, rules that state MPs who are imprisoned for a year or more lose their seat in the House of Commons- rules that have been upheld with regard to the expenses scandal. What seems feasible is that recall was only included to 'beef-up' what would otherwise have been a speech severely lacking in any eye-catching legislation. 

Despite this one minor exception, it was not legislation that made the Queen's Speech interesting however.


As an indoctrinated politics student, I watched the Queen's Speech live, and even kept the TV on to watch Ed Miliband's reply (something I would forgive most for not doing). For I was intrigued to see what miracles he would come up with in 2014. A year that has undeniably (to everyone but Ed Balls), shown the cementing of economic improvement in the UK. And, true to form, Tory MPs seemed as eager as myself to find out what Disciple Ed would come up with, barracking him before he had even stood up, laughing and jeering, and even shouting 'MOOOOOREEEE' in their classic public school manner. I don’t blame them, having been denied their half-hourly comedy sketch of Prime Minister’s Questions for the previous few weeks, they were ready and raring to go and waiting to laugh at the political death of an individual killing the Labour Party.

At the start of his speech, Miliband proclaimed, "what the recent elections show, is that more than at any time for generations, this House faces a contemporary battle of its own. A battle for relevance, legitimacy, and standing in the eyes of the public." Clearly, Miliband in all his wisdom is posing a straightforward explanation of the UKIP rise. He sees the issue as political dissatisfaction; dissatisfaction with the political classes. This, in Miliband's eyes, is the reason for the UKIP surge, not because they may have a few (only one, in my view) decent policies, nor because immigration is a major issue. This became further apparent throughout the speech, as he denied an answer to the question of whether he would have a job's tax, simply attacking Tory backbenchers as part of the problem- "Mr. Speaker, no wonder the public hates politics." It seemed as if the theme in this reply to the Loyal Address was founded on principles of a new form of politics, a form of engagement, political mutual respect and politeness in the chamber. (Sound pretty idyllic to you?). It seemed as if Miliband was giving us a comprehensive, unified answer to the problem of UKIP. However, if yet again Miliband came out with a new plan for a different method of conducting politics, he seems to be able to consistently rely on the "Muttering idiot" of the Shadow Chancellor to Balls up proceedings.

Indeed, when Cameron stood up to reply to the Leader of the Dreaded Opposition, Balls seemed to not only be on a different page to his party leader, but a totally different chapter, book, trilogy or even (probably) not even reading. Time and again Balls would be barracking Cameron in his classic way, constantly grumbling and making wildly ambiguous hand gestures; risking making himself, and more importantly his leader, look like a total moron. 

As usual, Balls came up trumps for the Tories.

Miliband was not able to portray the image that he wished. Members of his party simply refused to bat on the same wicket as he was. Perhaps he should have given his own advice to Balls- "I do say to the Honorable gentleman, shouting from a sedentary position; that is another thing people hate about this Parliament." People don’t just hate that about Parliament, they hate Ed Balls too.

So, there was one thing that we did learn from the Queen's Speech. Not that the coalition is attempting to carry on until the General Election, not that there are any serious new policies in the pipeline, and not that Miliband is succeeding in creating a new style of politics. Instead, we learned (once again) that Balls really does not have a clue. He constantly goes against his leader, barracking away and forgetting the political impact that his pathetic actions take. We learned that when it comes to the Labour Party, you have Miliband and you have Balls- but they are playing a completely different sport. Long may that continue; as long as Balls is Shadow Chancellor, Miliband will get nowhere, which is damn good news for all of us. 

By Toto Berger

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