Monday, November 16, 2009

Queen Used As Election Pawn

The Queen is being used as an election pawn in a party political broadcast to parliament. The shameful charade of New Labour's 'Queen's Speech' is set to test the water with a manifesto and "smoke out the Tories". An insult to the public and total waste of time.

'Announcing populist measures to "smoke out" the Tories on policy, Brown has signalled the start of a bitter election campaign,' thunders The Times. Not in a news conference. Not in a party political broadcast. But through the age old tradition of Wednesday's official opening of parliament.

The Queen's Speech has been reduced to a glorified New Labour press release with Pussycat Peter's paw prints all over it.

Reading from a prepared script, it's left to Her Maj to set out her government's 'legislation' for the coming year. But none of the measures will see the light of day. Not least because of looming across the board spending cuts.

Missing from the 'manifesto' will be the budget and pre-budget report, increasingly used to set policy with key announcements.

Using a Queen's Speech in this way is an insult to voters and affront to parliamentary democracy. The Orange Party isn't turning yellow but LibDem leader Clegg has a valid point.

The "glitz and glamour" of the Queen's Speech, he said, would be "based on a complete fiction" because there were only 70 parliament days between now and the last date to dissolve parliament.

That kinda blows out of the water commons cheerleader, Harman's insistence that "the majority of the bills in the forthcoming Queen's Speech would become law before the general election".

Laws take, on average, 240 days to pass through all stages. If Bottling Brown finally gives the public what they want and calls the election before going all the way to the wire, then time is even tighter.

Then strict election broadcasting laws kick in. Parliament grinds to a halt. The commons won't see MPs for dust as they scurry off to begin the election battle proper.

Tough times call for tough measures to tackle jobs and the recession, a decaying social culture and downright distrust of the political system. Instead an election gimmick is being used to sound out the public mood, shore up the struggling Supreme Leader's precarious position and try to wrong-foot the opposition.

Mention parliament to voters and only one thing springs to mind - the disgrace of the MPs' expenses scandal.

Clegg has called for the Queen's Speech to be cancelled and replaced with emergency reforms to "clean up politics".

Parliament could usefully use its time to clean up its act with a fresh start ready for voting day, instead of trying to water down Kelly with an MPs' expenses stitch up.

Using precious time to restore trust, sounds a pretty sensible idea. "The one gift this failed Parliament can give its successor is a fresh start," said Clegg.

Battling Brown has finally fired the election starting gun but it feels like the parties have been limbering up with an increasingly bitter campaign for donkey's years. A weary public is fed up with all the dithering and dilly-dallying.

Using a Queen's Speech as a party political tool ahead of an election isn't new. But this one smacks of party politicking like no other. Voters will see through another shameless New Labour smoke and mirrors sham. Using taxpayers cash to get some free publicity is a cheap stunt.

Using the speech as rearguard action to whip up flagging support from core voters in the vain hope of preventing total wipe-out is a dodgy way to dupe voters.

As Clegg said, it will serve as "little more than a rehearsal of the next Labour manifesto" and "an attempt to road test policy gimmicks".

The floundering ship is sinking fast in an ocean of failure and disaster. Half-baked unfunded policies are now the order of the day in a stagnant Whitehall. It's a sure sign of election time when U-turns come thick and fast.

Voters feel in their bones that it is time for a change. Beleaguered Brown has lost public confidence. Cameron is the PM in waiting. Isn't it about time the fag-end government showed the electorate some respect?

Instead ministers are left with little to do but dish out dollops of Brown sauce to an election battle weary public.

Top picture: Private Eye cover 1964. Mid picture: Private Eye

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