Last week the second Queens Speeches since the 2019 General Election and the first in this decade took place. Inevitably the one that follows a General Election is focused on the Manifesto that was published by the party or group of parties that have won the General Election and so in many senses one would see this second one, coming 18 months after the election as the most significant. The predictable prospect is for a third one in another year to 18 months and then for the Government to focus on trying to win the next General Election in late 2024 is what many of us were anticipating. When David Cameron structured future General Elections to take place every five years at the same time as the local elections in May I felt it had a great deal of merit. The 2015 General Election would have run until May 2020 and then there would be another one due in May 2025. Sadly this had already been ripped up twice with the help of the opposition parties so perhaps they will be happy to endorse the idea for the Government to decide when to hold an election and then to create an enormous set of costs and hard work for the people who participate in elections. No doubt in the future whenever the elections are set out like the one in December 2019 a similar piece will appear in the Manifesto that will state
We have been paralysed by a broken Parliament that simply refuses to deliver……… and that is why this election is so essential.
The item listed in the 2019 Manifesto that they claimed was refused was Brexit. No doubt in the future, there will be a different reason each time and we as the people who are called to vote will be expected to accept their comment. Alternatively on occasions we will be able to respond together in large enough numbers to reject that claim and hand the leadership over to another party or group of parties. The current proposal for future elections is also that people who do not have a driving licence or passport will be treated as a different sort of person and that will be disturbing for some of us. I recall the reactions to Identity Cards Act 2006 arose from many people but it was the same Government that introduced the five year election rule that also dismissed the ID arrangement. So presumably the way forward to give the Government of the day the chance to call for an election when it suits them, will also be to set out an ID Card for all of us? In due course the words that the Queen has read will either be adopted or rejected by Parliament. No doubt future Parliaments will reverse aspects in the same way as this one is rejecting pieces that its own party set out.
Inevitably following on from the Queens speech there were many comments from MPs. One of them came from Andrew Griffith, the MP for Arundel and South Downs. He was speaking on Wednesday under a discussion that was entitled “Better Jobs and a Fair Deal at Work” and he was responding to words from a Labour MP who focused on the theme of “Fire and Re-Hire” which is a very serious and deeply concerning issue for people in our nation. The issue that was raised was how people who may have been working for 15-20 years are being fired and then rehired in companies such as British Gas as a result of COVID and in doing so are losing their historic provision. The call was a frustration that the Queens Speech did not include any response to those actions. I suspect that the comment by Andrew Griffith that
the only person to whom Christian Matheson should be directing his comments in respect of fire and rehire, as the events of the weekend showed, is Keir Starmer?
was intended as a joke. However it was not a good time to make a joke and perhaps Andrew could grasp that some of his constituents and others in Sussex may have been impacted by this sort of action. Earlier in the same debate Caroline Lucas spoke about some of the gaps that exist in the Queens Speech, one of which related to the following comment.
More than 100 cross-party Members of this House have come together to support a new Bill—the climate and ecological emergency Bill—to address the climate and nature crises together
and she goes on to call for this to be adopted by the Government. Let us hope that there is some prospect of that Bill being accepted before the next General Election which of course could come much quicker than any are anticipating.