The Queen's Speech 2008: the Lib Dem response

by Stephen Tall on December 3, 2008

As the Speaker pithily put it,

I have to acquaint the House that this House has this day attended Her Majesty in the House of Peers, and that Her Majesty was pleased to make a Most Gracious Speech from the Throne to both Houses of Parliament, of which I have, for greater accuracy, obtained a copy.

In other words, today was the day for the Government to spell out its legislative programme for the year ahead. Masochists can enjoy the whole darned thing courtesy of Hansard here; for those who prefer their information distilled by the BBC click here.

You can read Nick Clegg’s response to the Queen’s Speech, over at the party website here, and an extact below:

Mr Speaker, it’s clear today it isn’t just Britain’s economy that’s broken. Politics is broken, too. Today’s Government programme is just political pantomime – plenty of bright colours and bad jokes, but very little substance. Labour’s run out of ideas. It is clearer today than ever that Britain needs a new, different Government. A different political beginning. That’s what the Liberal Democrats will deliver.”

Stirring words; and here’s the policy priorities the Lib Dems have said they would have wanted to see in the Queen’s Speech in order to “give people the help they need right now”:

· Offering big, permanent and fair tax cuts for ordinary people and families, to put money back in their pockets, funded by closing the multi-billion pound loopholes that benefit only the very
rich and big business.
· Releasing local authorities from Whitehall rules so that they can borrow against their assets, and buy up unsold properties and turn them into social housing, complete unfinished housing projects, and provide affordable homes to the thousands of families without a permanent roof over their heads.
· Forcing the banks to lend money on fair terms to small businesses and families – and making it quite clear that if the banks cannot be made to act, the government will lend directly itself.
· Creating a big programme of green investment to create jobs, stimulate the economy, and set Britain up for a more sustainable future.
· Forcing energy companies to charge fairly for heating and lighting our homes, so that a pensioner trying to heat just a single room is no longer paying more for her units of energy than a millionaire heating five floors of a mansion.

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Not a bad show from Clegg at all…I like the ‘broken politics’ narrative and think it’s the right chord to strike…and he recognised the real possibility that the Green affair isnt making many waves with the general public (Brown has spotted this from his replies to Cameron) and tried to make it relevant through the broken politics narrative…

by Darrell on December 3, 2008 at 7:52 pm. Reply #

Can someone explain precisely what Nick Clegg means by the term “ordinary people and families”?

What does one have to be or do to be classed as ‘ordinary’? Can anyone here accurately describe an ‘ordinary’ person? Has anyone ever met one?

Who does the term ‘ordinary’ exclude? Why is failing to be ‘ordinary’ reason not to benefit from any tax cuts?

Under a Liberal Democrat government, will the tax declaration form be redesigned to include the question: “Are you ordinary? YES/NO (delete as applicable)”?

And how does the term ‘ordinary’ square with the commitment, expressed in the preamble to the party’s constitution, that none shall be enslaved by conformity?

by Simon Titley on December 3, 2008 at 9:55 pm. Reply #

I suppose one handy measure is that ordinary families shop at Sainsbury’s not Ocado.

by Ruth Bright on December 3, 2008 at 10:16 pm. Reply #

If the Liberal Democrats win on Thursday, I warn you not to be extraordinary.

by Hywel Morgan on December 3, 2008 at 10:40 pm. Reply #

“Can someone explain precisely what Nick Clegg means by the term “ordinary people and families”?

What does one have to be or do to be classed as ‘ordinary’?”

Surely it’s not that hard to work out – it means “anyone who might vote for us”!

by Clegg's Candid Fan on December 3, 2008 at 11:01 pm. Reply #

All good stuff – but we really need to be doing something to safeguard jobs.

People in work are better able to survive tough times, maintain mortgage payments and keep the economy ticking with their spending. Government should be cutting taxes to support employment. Their temporary VAT tweak has just added to small firms’ administrative costs – assuming they have bothered to adjust prices rather than grab a bit of extra margin.

Our plan to cut 4p off income tax is much stronger, but additional spending isn’t guaranteed – the money might be saved instead – and it won’t reduce business overheads. Jobs are already being shed. We need to help firms to reduce costs as a matter of urgency.

Encouraging bank lending so that businesses can gear-up with more debt – especially to aid cashflow issues – is madness. The solution must be to reduce – or ideally scrap – employers’ NICs, covered by borrowing as necessary short term but replaced by a longer-term tax switch to “value-removing” areas in due course. And there are plenty of those readying themselves to rachet up again as the economy starts to recover – housing (i.e. land) prices and bank deposit creation to name but two.

C’mon Nick – let’s push to cut Employers’ NICs now, and put jobs first!

by Andrew Duffield on December 3, 2008 at 11:17 pm. Reply #

Might this mean that those who shop at Tesco, Asda or Lidl are far too ordinary to be our kind of ordinary people?

by David Allen on December 3, 2008 at 11:18 pm. Reply #

I’m still totally asked ‘forcing’ privately owned banks to do anything. If a government has majority shares in a bank then that’s very different, but to force a private bank to do the government’s will is getting into very dangerous territory (otherwise known as communism).

by Letters From A Tory on December 4, 2008 at 10:10 am. Reply #

99.9% of the population won’t knit pick like we will (though the political journalists who frame media narative are in the 0.1%) however with that important point made I’d make a comments.

1. If Nick thinks our “politics” and “economy” are broken why do we accuse the Conservatives of “sound bites” when they say “society” is broken? Indeed why all of a suden have we pinched there word sounding like little Sir Echo.

2. Andrew is right about jobs. the political class is wedded to consumerist thinking and isn’t brave enought to tell peple we have to move to a recession paradigm. VAT cuts are about keeping consumption going. The funded tax cuts for lower and middle income earners ( sorry he’s changed it to ordinary now) are about keeping consumption going. Both are capable of being shoved in a shoe box under the bed.

We should direct any available spare or borrowed cash into making employment cheaper. Cut/abolish employers NIC.

keeping every last job is paramount. its not just that it keeps money flowing its an anti reposesion strtegy, its a mentalhealth strategy, its an anti crime strategy, its an anti xenophobia strategy, its a family cohesion strategy.

Its understandable that politicans seeking votes want to “put money in peoples pockets” to keep feel good consumerism going but its time for a longer term view.

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs!

3. The stuff on bank lending is populist and I’m sure reflects real anger in MP’s post bags. You ca put a hand on the tiller on the three nationalised banks but a government bank ? How long would it take to set up ? Would you trust civil servants to run it ?

by David Morton on December 4, 2008 at 10:51 am. Reply #

It’s worth reading Lord McNally’s opening gambit in the Lords debate on the Queen’s Speech too. If only for the laughs.

by Ned on December 4, 2008 at 2:39 pm. Reply #

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