‘Farcical’ Queen’s Speech contains threat to democracy

News Westminster

The Queen’s Speech has been pilloried as “farcical” and an abuse of the monarchy to deliver a Tory manifesto ahead of a looming general election.

Among the 26 bills and policies announced were tougher jail sentences and a controversial plan to force people to show photographic ID in order to be able to vote – a policy immediately labelled as “dangerous and undemocratic”.

‘Tories trying to rig the election’

The Labour party said the policy should be “abandoned immediately” and shadow voting minister Cat Smith called it a “blatant attempt by the Tories to rig the result of the next general election”.

The plans to make all voters show photographic ID at polling stations have been slammed as “dangerous and undemocratic” by the Electoral Reform Society (ERS) on Twitter.

The Conservatives say Voter ID will “tackle electoral fraud and protect our democracy” but the ERS’s Darren Hughes said “these plans will leave tens of thousands of legitimate voters voiceless”.

‘Uncosted wish list’

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott described the Queen’s Speech as “farcical”, and added: “It is just an uncosted wish list which the Government has no intention and no means to deliver, and nothing more than a pre-election party political broadcast.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: “There has never been such a farce as a government with a majority of minus 45 and a 100% record of defeat in the Commons setting out a legislative agenda they know cannot be delivered in this parliament.”

New parliamentary session

The Queen’s Speech outlines the government’s priorities and the bills it plans to introduce, heralding a new parliamentary session and the first test of the prime minister’s ability to command a majority in the Commons.

Boris Johnson’s government does not have a majority – even with the support of the ten DUP MPs – a status inherited from May but made worse still by recent resignations, defections and the Prime Minister’s own decision to withdraw the whip from 21 Conservative MPs over Brexit.

There are currently 288 Tory MPs with Labour numbering 245, the Lib Dems 19, Scottish National Party 35, and Independent also 35.

‘Failed’ to ‘get Brexit done’

The speech contained no new policy on the NHS other than a long term plan, while the social care proposal is for a consultation.

Six of the 26 bills were Brexit related but there was no “do or die” quote from the Queen to “get it done”, just that her “Government’s priority has always been to secure the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union on October 31”.

Appropriating the Conservative’s own party conference slogan, Corbyn said the government have had “three and a half years to get Brexit done and they’ve failed.”

Queen could be back before Christmas

Seven bills will be tabled on Tuesday as Johnson shows his determination to carry on regardless of parliamentary numbers or a looming election which could see the Queen back at Westminster to deliver another speech before Christmas.

Among the 26 bills announced in the Queen’s Speech were plans for legislation on domestic abuse; paying tips to workers; fire safety regulations for high rise buildings following the Grenfell Tower tragedy; no fault divorce, increased school funding and numbers of free schools; an environment bill looking at plastic, air quality and biodiversity; rollout of faster broadband; pensions; and animal welfare.

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