Prime Minister Brown has been criticised for having nothing new in his Queen's Speech. That is slightly unfair. He had the innovation of a pre-Queen's Speech when he first took over the top job. There is a lot of sense in having better fore-warning of legislation, rather than treating the Queen as a white rabbit pulling party tricks out of hats.
But nevertheless it seems a strangely unvisionary programme. And we can only be depressed by David Cameron's reversion to ranting and yelling across the dispatch box. So much for a new kind of politics
This isn’t the first Queen's Speech of the Brown government. It’s the 11th Queen's Speech of the Blair/Brown government. It’s another reminder that the change at the top is a change of manager rather than a change in direction.
Mr Brown told us he was not holding an election this autumn because he wanted to show us his vision for Britain. We’re still waiting. The government seems to have run out of policy ideas. And the Prime Minister has become the Old Mother Hubbard of 10 Downing Street. When he got there the cupboard was bare.
David Cameron's faux rage reflects the fact that across wide swathes of policy Brown’s approach is indistinguishable from the Tories. Copying of tax policies. Competing for the anti-immigration vote. Support for knee jerk ‘prison works’ crime policies. Subservience to the Bush administration. Support for environmentally damaging airport expansion, etc. Only the Liberal Democrats offer a distinctive voice.
Much of the programme is Brown clearing up his own mistakes. Replacing the CSA should have been done in the government’s first year, not the 11th. Whose fault is the shortage of affordable homes?
And we keep seeing quantity of legislation rather than quality. The Blair/Brown government has already passed nearly 400 Acts of Parliament since 1997 - 29 criminal justice bills alone. The government routinely uses legislation as a substitute for executive action, and just to look like it is doing something. The proposed Immigration Bill – a knee-jerk reaction to bad headlines – is a classic example of this.
Brown is not green. The environment was mostly ignored during his decade at the Treasury. He’s downgraded the key government committee on the environment and is trying to backtrack on renewable energy targets. The two ‘green bills’ (energy and climate change) fall far short of what is needed.
In short it is the same old same old.