Baroness Jan Royall of Blaisdon is Labour's Leader in the House of Lords
Governments set out in the Queen’s Speech their proposed legislative programme. In words carefully written in 10 Downing Street, the country is told what will be in effect the government’s political, economic and policy priorities for the year ahead.
So what we should see today is measures to help jobs and growth, to help living standards, to help the one million young people now out of work. Measures, in other words, to kick-start economic growth.
We should be seeing measures to give everyone a fair deal on tax, reversing the tax cuts for the rich; a fair deal on energy, breaking up the big six energy companies and helping pensioners; a fair deal on transport, stopping above-inflation price rises; a fair deal for consumers, with new powers to combat rip-off surcharges by banks and others; and a fair deal on jobs, taxing bankers’ bonuses to help young people into work.
That’s what we should see. Sadly, I don’t think it is what we’re going to see.
What we will see is little, if anything, on jobs and growth. Little, if anything, to help most people, with their real worries – about their jobs, their mortgages or rents, their grocery bills, about whether they can afford to fill up the car, and their children’s future.
What we will see, just as we saw in the Budget, is this government helping their own. The Coalition is doing nothing for the vast majority of people across the country because it is putting the wrong people first. Indeed, instead of trying to tackle the people’s priorities, this government wants to tackle the Coalition’s priorities.
That’s why, for instance, they’re proposing Lords reform – something that isn’t high on most people’s worry lists.
Don’t get me wrong, Labour, our Peers included, wants to see reform of the Lords. But we want to get reform right, and the government’s proposals don’t do that. And we don’t share the LibDems view that it is the burning issue which, at the time of the first double-dip recession since the mid-1970s, absolutely must be addressed now.
So we’re told that Lords reform has squeezed out lots of the government’s promised legislation – shamefully, including a new law to establish that just 0.7 per cent of our national income, as a rich country, should be used for international aid. A promise made: a promise broken.
We’re told that because of the disastrous election results last week for the Tories, and even more so for the LibDems, that the entire speech was ripped up while Ministers, as with the embarrassing ‘relaunch’ at the tractor factory, tried to ‘reconnect’ with people.
Well, I don’t believe that is what we will see in the Queen Speech. What we will see, as we’ve seen over granny tax, pasty tax, fuel panics, Abu Qatada, News International and a whole host of other things, is a government which is incompetent, unfair, and out of touch.
We’ll see a government continuing to cut spending and raise taxes too far and too fast, leading directly to low, if any, growth, and high unemployment.
We’ll see a government with the wrong priorities, doing the wrong things, and aiming to help the wrong people.
What last week’s elections made crystal clear is what the country wants is action: on jobs, growth and the economy. Action to help our country, not action that just serves to help the Coalition.