Queen’s Speech Fallout

MORNING BRIEFING – By Benedict Brogan (Daily Telegraph)

David Cameron faces the fallout from yesterday’s Queen’s Speech today. And the papers don’t make for happy reading for him. The short speech – coming in just under 15 minutes – was a bit thin. Especially given that he hasn’t had one for two years – the longest we’ve gone without since the war.

On one hand, the Government deserves congratulation for resisting the urge to pack the programme with too much legislation. But they open themselves to the charge that they have run out of ideas after just two years. They have perhaps not done enough to communicate that the reform programme on welfare, education and health should be enough to be getting on with.

Our leader column says the speech did little to alter the country’s fate, praising its plans to cut red tape, but questioning how that fits alongside the extra burdens laid on business by new paternity legislation. The Mail takes a harder line, asking “where are the big ideas?”

But the FT (£) is the paper to really stick the knife in, saying that Cameron needs “to get a grip” on his team, criticising his judgment on Andy Coulson, Andrew Lansley and Peter Cruddas. It also calls for him to conduct a reshuffle, adding:

“The government as a whole is suffering from a growing perception of incompetence. Too many initiatives are launched, and too few delivered.”

Ack, at least Dave can celebrate the fact that Theresa May has finally been granted permission to boot out Abu Qatada. It’s just a shame she’s also been told that she definitely got the date wrong. Read our report.

The Guardian has a detailed breakdown of all the bills announced in yesterday’s speech.


The world outside Westminster hasn’t taken the speech well either. We’ve splashed on business leaders’ dismay at extra paternity-leave legislation and the lack of help for the economy. Likewise, the Mail gives its p2 to “the nightmare”.

If the pursuit of growth is supposed to be the only priority, then why add to the costs of business?

And the Mail’s Stephen Glover doesn’t buy that this is the result of bargaining with the Lib Dems. He asks:

“Was there anything in the Queen’s Speech that was exclusively Conservative, and which might have featured in the legislative programme of a robust, Tory-only government?”


In his Telegraph column today, Peter Oborne is reluctant to criticise the speech, but says that time could be up on the Coalition:

“The Coalition Agreement will shortly run out – a profoundly dangerous moment. In Britain, with our tradition of one-party government, we have very little experience of how coalitions work. But on the Continent, where they are very common, it is no coincidence that so many fail at the end of the first two years.”


And the bit we were all waiting for – would Lords reform appear in the speech? Watered down or otherwise? In the end it was merely announced as “a Bill will be brought forward to reform the composition of the House of Lords.”

This already has the Conservative backbenchers up in arms – something that the Opposition looks poised to exploit. The Guardian reports that Labour plans to side with Tory rebels to cause maximum hassle for the Government. They will reject the timetable for debating the Bill and so ensure that Commons business will be at mercy of the rebels.

This will delight the Conservatives who see this as the swiftest way of killing the legislation in the Commons. No guillotine means the Bill can be talked into the ground, though as No 10 keeps trying to point out Governments are entirely capable of coping with more than one thing at once (Mark Harper, the minister responsible, recalls that in 1940 when the Government had somewhat more pressing matters on its plate, the Commons debated an Education Bill).


Iain Duncan Smith gave a speech yesterday to Policy Exchange, saying that we need to change our culture to fix the benefits system. He said:

“By this I mean cultural change both within society, and within Government itself. We are faced with a fundamental challenge. Millions of people stuck on out of work benefits. Millions not saving nearly enough for their retirement. And Government addicted to spending levels as a measurement of success, rather than life change as a measurement of success.”

Quite. There’s nothing like ruling yourself out of leadership to loosen your tongue. Read our report.


For Ed Miliband, the Leveson enquiry is the gift that keeps on giving. Today, the Guardian reports that Downing Street has admitted that Andy Coulson is likely to have attended high-level military meetings, despite having undergone only low-level security vetting.

Westminster will be following closely the evidence sessions of the next 48 hours for revelations that will deal another blow to Mr Cameron’s credibility. At least now the Government is a core participant and won’t be taken by surprise.


As we reported yesterday, the Government has U-turned on its plans to buy the take-off version of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, instead purchasing the jump-jet model of the plane. Read our report. The Guardian has the details on the technical problems that could cost more than £57m. Read its report here.

The finger is already being pointed: the FT (£) reports that senior government figures have turned on Liam Fox who first announced the policy in 2010.


… Well, that’s what Caroline Spelman, the minister responsible for waste, is telling us. She praised Alice Arnold on Radio 4 yesterday for picking up a bottle thrown from a car and tossing it back at the passengers. She said: “I think people feel it’s increasingly important to challenge behaviour that is anti-social.”

She’s on Question Time tonight, so I’m guessing we’re going to hear more on this one.


And finally, if you thought the Queen’s Speech suggested that Dave was running out of ideas, try this one for size: a leaked document shows that he’s considering rebranding Whitehall departments. Each department would get a colour and “digital-friendly” Royal coat of arms.

As Rob Oxley of the Taxpayers’ Alliance says: “Only civil servants could think that simplifying government means flashy new logos for every department.”

Actually this seems to be an idea from Martha Lane Fox, Dave’s internet guru. Did anyone tell her adding pointless costs isn’t in her remit? Read our report here.


Latest YouGov/The Sun results: Conservative 31%, Labour 44%, Lib Dems 9%, UKIP 8%

Overall government approval rating: -39


In The Telegraph

Peter Oborne: The cost of David Cameron’s Coalition is growing ever more expensive

Sue Cameron: Why shouldn’t we see Whitehall’s warnings?

Leader: This Speech did little to alter the country’s fate

Leader: Qatada’s time may be up

Best of the rest

Simon Kettle in the Guardian: Queen’s speech: a story of coalition uncertainty

Steve Richards in the Independent: Queen’s Speech – a ragbag of eye-catching measures worthy of Tony Blair

Leader in the Financial Times (£): Cameron must get a grip on his team

Stephen Glover in the Daily Mail: A prisoner of the Lib Dems? I’m afraid I take that with a very generous pinch of salt, Mr Cameron


Today: David Cameron meets Yousuf Raza Gilani, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, at Downing Street

Today: David Willetts announces £16m funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council for UK robotics, University of the West of England

Today: Justine Greening speaks at a green motoring conference

Today: Sports Minister, Hugh Robertson attends the Olympic Flame Lighting Ceremony at the Temple of Hera in Olympia, Greece

Today: Public sector workers strike against pension reforms

10am: Michael Gove will give a speech at Brighton College about excellence in education, Brighton College, Eastern Road, Brighton

10am: Andy Coulson gives evidence to the Leveson Inquiry. The Royal Courts of Justice, The Strand, London

10am: David Miliband speaks on youth unemployment, 21 Palmer Street, London

10.30am: Business Statement, Houses of Parliament

12pm: Bank of England decision on interest rates

10.35pm: BBC Question Time fromOldham. The panel will include Caroline Spelman, Chris Bryant, Lord Oakeshott, Peter Oborne and Mary Beard

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One of the many problems concerning the rise of the professional political class over the past 20 years is that its members always feel the need to be busy. It is a well-known fact that the majority of new laws are not merely unnecessary: they actually make life worse. But almost all politicians love new legislation because it creates the perception that they are taking action, although that is often not the case at all.

For this reason, I am extremely reluctant to join in the chorus of criticism that yesterday’s Queen’s Speech lacked energy, purpose and a sense of direction. Indeed, its cautious drift was not just commendable – it was also inevitable.

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