The problem with today’s Queen’s Speech is that it does not look like a radical and cutting edge Government. That is not necessarily the worst thing – Government does not need to legislate to drive change forward and can do lots without it. But quite a few of the Bills look similar to the end of the last Government and enshrine things that are already being done – e.g. National Citizenship Service – and there is a question mark over how much of this reform actually requires legislation – e.g prison reform. There were some interesting elements in relation to devolution, technology and greater connectivity, but these are all worthy measures rather than a fundamental reshaping of society.
Undoubtedly, the theme of this Queen’s Speech was social reform, but it failed to set out a major set of reforms that will reshape Britain’s society or economy. David Cameron has always wanted to convert his party to social justice – and to some extent he has. But there is a danger that his pitch as it currently stands isn’t well rounded enough – many hard working people could ask what do they gain from this agenda? Conservative MPs are not against most of these measures (going ‘soft’ on criminals being an exception) but very few of them feel this is why they joined the Party, or where Cameron should be focusing now he has a majority.
As ever, but more than in most years, this is not the full agenda for the next 12 months and No. 10 is already planning a relaunch in the aftermath of the referendum. The problem is that the constraints are very tight. Legislation and reform must save money, keep the Tory party (reasonably) united and not fall apart as it progresses through Parliament. It is going to be interesting to see what they can produce and whether or not it can keep the Party together in the wake of a bruising referendum campaign