“There are lots of things in this statement we welcome – not least because we proposed them.
“We welcome the constitution for the NHS – an idea we set out last June.
We welcome the extension of the right to request flexible working.
We announced that in September 2006. We welcome the independent exam regulator.
I raised and proposed that in 2005.
The list is enormous.
Simple saving scheme: the 2005 Tory Manifesto.
Regulatory budgets: in 2006.
“The list is almost as long as the draft Queen’s Speech. I hope when
he gets up we’ll get a bit of gratitude from the Prime Minister. He
can’t really say we haven’t got any substance when he’s taken it all
and put it in his Queen’s Speech.
“We particularly welcome what he had to say about shared equity. These
proposals are being pioneered in record numbers by the record numbers
of Conservative councils up and down the country. And most of all we
welcome the welfare reforms.
“The Prime Minister has stuffed Number 10 full of spin doctors and
pollsters. Why not just get a shorthand typist and send them to the
Tory Conference to take it down? It would save a lot of money.
“And now we hear that the Prime Minister is going to accept our
proposals for elected officials to make the police accountable. This is
the proposal his Government called “completely daft”. I think they
meant completely draft. This is a great idea – that officials who hold
office and wield power should be elected.
Who knows, it might catch on. One day we might just have an elected Prime Minister.
“Look at the Bills that are to clear up the mess of the last decade.
“Haven’t we got a Banking Bill because the regulatory system he created ten years ago failed its first test on Northern Rock?
“Haven’t we got an NHS Bill because a decade after they promised to end
mixed sex wards, they’re still there, the promise has been broken and
people aren’t getting the care they need?
“Aren’t we getting an Immigration Bill because the Government
completely failed to prepare for or even anticipate the scale of
immigration that is taking place?
“Aren’t we having a Welfare Bill because after fifteen years of global
growth, Britain has got five million people on out of work benefits?
“Let’s be frank about what today’s statement adds up to. It’s another
relaunch. And he’s had to bring it forward. They’re still struggling
to implement last year’s Queen’s Speech. No solution to 42 days. Still
rewriting last year’s Budget. Whole Bills, badly drafted, still stuck
in the House of Lords. No wonder he wants to talk about next year’s
“But this Queen’s Speech has nothing to do with the long-term needs of
the country – and everything to do with the short-term political
survival of the Prime Minister.
“I believe the truth of this Queen’s Speech is that it reveals the
Prime Minister’s deeper problem. When it comes to the progressive goals
we really need to achieve in this country – unblocking social mobility,
beating poverty, taking people out of persistent deprivation – his
ideas have run out of steam.
“He doesn’t have the solutions anymore.
Instead of more redistribution, more tax credits, more top-down state
control, we need a government that tackles the underlying causes of
We need a government that fights family breakdown.
We need a government that breaks open the monopoly of state education.
We need a government that can work with the voluntary sector.
Isn’t it the case he can’t do that? And we can.
“The one positive part of what the Prime Minister had to say is the
claim he wants personalised public services. If that’s true, why
doesn’t he accept our plan to bust open the state monopoly in education
and allow new schools to open?
“On housing, why doesn’t he scrap the restrictions on right to buy, and
accept our plans to extend it to all council and housing association
“The fact is this Prime Minister doesn’t believe in giving people real choice and control over their lives.
If he did, he would have given us a referendum on the EU constitution.
“Watching this Prime Minister talking about personal choice, giving
people more freedom and letting them have more control over their lives
is completely unconvincing.
“The Supreme Leader just doesn’t do freedom.
Won’t people rightly conclude that if you want a Government that gives
you more freedom, choice and competition, you might as well vote for
the real thing? But then isn’t there the negative side to what the
Prime Minister had to say?
“It’s his usual trick of political positioning, and setting these false
dividing lines he’s completely obsessed with. When will he learn that
it is this political positioning and it is these fake dividing lines
that landed him in the mess he is in today?
“He is facing defeat on banging people up for 42 days without charge,
not because it’s the right thing to do, but because he wanted to try to
“He had the shambles of yesterday because his Budget wasn’t about
helping the poorest people; it was about posing as a tax cutter. And
that’s why he’s had to have such a big u-turn.
“There’s one part of the Queen’s Speech we will fight against tooth and
nail. And that’s his plan to enforce polyclinics and close GP
surgeries up and down the country – although of course it will be noted
there won’t be any of them in his constituency.
“And we will continue to fight this Government’s real agenda.
Closing Post Offices – tearing the heart out of rural communities.
Releasing prisoners – making our streets more dangerous.
And taxing businesses so they move abroad.
“After yesterday’s u-turn, today’s Queen’s Speech is just another attempt to save the Prime Minister’s skin. It won’t wash.
“People can see a Government – not just a Prime Minister – that’s run
out of road, run out of money, run out of ideas. Seven months ago
the Prime Minister cancelled the election because he said he needed
more time to set out his vision. Now we can see there isn’t a vision.
So when can we get on and have the election?
“This morning we read about a new plan from this great man of substance
– and it’s to appear on a new version of The Apprentice. The
Communities Secretary said this is The Apprentice meets Maria, meets
Strictly Come Dancing. I’ve got a better idea for the Prime
Minister. Why not take part in a reality show that involves the whole
of the country?
It’s called a General Election.
“Wouldn’t it give everyone the chance to stand up in front of the Prime Minister and say “You’re fired”?
Isn’t that the only way we’re going to get a Government that really
gives people control over their lives; that really strengthens our
families and our society; and that really makes our country safer and