I tried to watch the Commons debate on the Queen’s Speech this afternoon, a parade of vacuousness and entitlement in fancy dress and monarchical waving. Watching Tories in the Commons is like getting drowned in a vat of sewage by some really smug people who think the entire process is an audition for an amateur stand up comedy slot at a public school fete where there’s a prize for the best impersonation of a donkey. All that I could think the entire time was does Davie Cameron not have a face that cries out to be slapped? But saying that probably counts as an example of the extremist radicalism that the Tories want to make illegal. That’s the kind of remark that will get a Home Office drone outside your bedroom window making a note of all the times that you share subversive pics of LOLkats on Twitter.
As well as introducing new measures to crack down on the perfectly legitimate desire to slap Davie Cameron about the chops with a wet fish, the delights of Torydom that we were promised in the speech include a commitment to a British Bill of Rights. We need British rights because common or garden human rights are a bit too humane for the Tory party, and besides, realising that we do in fact share the same needs, desires, and wants as the rest of the human race is dangerously foreign and might lead to demands for a proper living wage, maternity rights, and a decent amount of annual holiday leave because that’s what they get in Germany.
For the Tories, the really great advantage of a British Bill of Rights is that unlike its European equivalent it’s entirely within the power of the Westminster parliament to make changes to it whenever it feels like it. A British Bill of Rights is a Tory Bill of Rights. It enshrines your human rights in the same way that PPI payments protected your consumer rights. The only rights it enshrines are the rights of the Westminster parliament.
The Queen’s Speech came with a raft of measures designed to allow Tory voters not to feel like the enablers of a shower of basterts that they actually are. When you were a wean your maw taught you that you are put on this Earth to help other people, Tory voters are the ones who think other people were put on this Earth to help them. They have the same attitude about governments. Governments are there to help Tory voters get a second house and a second holiday, not to help people who are worse off than they are.
Adoption law will be loosened, and there are plans to turn every school in England into an academy. This was billed as a liberalisation of the education system when in fact it’s an attempt to introduce privatisation by the back door and reduce even further the already diminished power of local authorities. It increases the influence of organised religion and business in schools, and reduces the power of parents.
Reforms of prisons in England and Wales were announced, although the reforms turn out to be plans to build more jails to replace the overcrowded Victorian prisons but not actually to take any steps to reduce the prison population. The UK has one of the highest rates of imprisonment in Europe. But then the private companies who run much of the prison service nowadays have a vested interest in keeping the prison population high while spending as little as possible on the care and rehabilitation of inmates. That’s not going to change as long as we have a prison policy that’s driven by headlines in the Daily Mail and the Express, newspapers which have the same relationship to truth as the Tory party does to compassion and humanity. We shouldn’t be surprised though, this is a country where if you rob from a bank you go to jail, but if you rob an entire banking system you get a peerage and an advisory post with the Treasury. When you’re ruled by thieves and liars theft becomes normal and lies become the truth.
Meanwhile, Jeremy Corbyn’s response to the speech was an exercise in how not to get people engaged with politics. He droned on for approximately the same amount of time that it took for humanity to evolve sentience from apes then de-evolve and lose it again in the Tory party, refusing to allow any interventions from the braying wannabe stand up comedians on the other side. What was needed was a witty, excoriating, and passionate denunciation of the iniquities of Tory rule, and what we got was a presentation from a semi-retired planning officer about the disadvantages of relying on the private sector to implement traffic flow measures in Maidstone. And there weren’t even any graphs. However Jeremy did demonstrate that he cares deeply about his own personal flow and never once gave way. God how we wished that he had done.
I’m sure there were highlights in the Labour leader’s speech, but along with the rest of the country I lost the will to live and stopped paying attention and went off to do something more interesting. Navels don’t defluff themselves you know. The only part of his speech I caught was his announcement that Labour would oppose the devolution of business rates to English local authorities. That’s the Party of Devolution for you, or more exactly, the Party of Saying No to Devolution.
There was bugger all in the Queen’s Speech about Scotland apart from some waffle about completing the process of disembowelling the Smith Commission proposals. Scotland no longer matters to Westminster. As long as they don’t think that we’re about to declare independence, they don’t have to think about us at all. They can leave us to be managed by Fluffy, ignored and sidelined until the next time that they realise with terror that we might just walk out of the UK. Watching the Queen’s Speech only confirms that Scotland is another country, that our concerns are no concern of Westminster, that there is nothing in this sorry charade that speaks to us. The day is coming when Scotland will wave the Queen’s Speech goodbye.
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