What a disappointment! We were promised dazzling, and we got a damp squib…
Today’s Queen’s Speech did little to mend the damage of 9 1/2 years of austerity- in fact, those spending promises do not even go so far as to reverse the damage, let alone meet the needs of our education, health and police services, and local authorities in 2019.
Imagine what could have been said, and what will be said when we are able to put forward a far more hopeful and fundamentally helpful Queen’s Speech, in perhaps as little as a few weeks time…
What we need to see from the Government:
- A commitment to education funding that reverses the cuts since 2010 and provides adequate resource for all schools to provide a good education for all children. This means smaller classes, a proper pay rise for teachers and an end to the marketisation of education.
- A practical programme of training and recruitment for doctors, nurses and other understaffed clinical roles with the requisite resource ring fenced to ensure it happens. GP shortages are crippling primary care, and no number of apps will take their place.
- An evidence-based approach to law and order. Dog whistle policies about getting tough on criminals are just that and do nothing to reduce offending rates or reduce strain on the courts and prisons. It is imperative that custody is not the go-to sentence where it has been shown to increase future criminality.
- A serious attempt to create a social care system that works. Local government finance has been cut by half and yet there is no sign of ensuring dignity in old age for everyone. Labour is committed to a National Care Service and will start by introducing free personal care for all older people at home- this matters a great deal to many people.
- A real commitment to tackling the climate emergency that ensures the public and private sectors come together as a matter of urgency to make the shifts we need to make. Fossil fuels need to be quickly phased out, which requires a strong commitment to renewables and a change to our mindset on consumption. This is the biggest challenge of our time and this government seems to be paying only lip service.
- A recognition that housing is a fundamental right. Rising deaths amongst the homeless is a tragic symptom of the cuts to local government. There is a housing crisis, there is a crisis in local government and people are dying – how can we accept this in 2019? Furthermore, there was also nothing today to fix the issue of dangerous cladding cases, the like of which caused the Grenfell tragedy.
- The courage to stand up against human rights abuses abroad and to commit to strengthening our international institutions. This includes an end to arms exports to countries who use them against civilians.
This list could go on, but it was clear that this shallow speech from a government begging to be dissolved is not intended to be brought about in reality, The Queen had the job of delivering an election broadcast from the Conservatives today, and not a particularly impressive one at that.