by Stephen Tall on November 6, 2007
This was Labour’s 11th consecutive Queen’s Speech. And it showed. Is this list of 29 new bills really what Gordon Brown has been plotting and dreaming of delivering for the past 15 years? Even had Mr Brown not decided to pre-announce the measures back in July (ah, the new ‘no spin’ era – remember that?) this would still have ranked among the most tepid of policy programmes imaginable.
Of course, there are some welcome good intentions – bills on climate change and constitutional reform – but there is little radical thinking, no real progressive advance. And in other areas, there are clear signs of just how illiberal Labour can be – new moves to extend detention without trial, and the proposed criminalisation of those who don’t want to stay in education or training until they’re 18.
There are those who will call this Queen’s Speech a huge anti-climax. I’m not sure I agree, as I’ve no recollection of Mr Brown teasing my expectations. For all his supposedly vast intellect, we’re still little the wiser as to what the Prime Minister wishes to achieve during his time in office. He’s had plenty of opportunities to tell us. Remember the early hinted promises of surprise reform packages on a whole range of issues – from ID cards, to Iraq, to nuclear power, to fair votes? Like the general election that wasn’t, Mr Brown flunked them all.
The reality is that Mr Brown continues to preside over the same kind of soggy Labour/Tory consensus that Tony Blair and David Cameron spent 18 months scrapping over. It’s nothing more than a Centre-Right Conspiracy – and only liberalism stands opposed to it.