By Tim Montgomerie
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I hope readers have enjoyed reading The Alternative Queen's Speech over the last 48 hours. It certainly produced a surge in traffic to ConservativeHome. The Sun certainly enjoyed it. They took many of the Speech's biggest ideas and tested them against the 'real' Queen's Speech in their daily YouGov poll. It found that the Alternative Speech was more popular than the Government's. Seven of the ten most popular ideas came from the list of bills we have been publishing on ConservativeHome and only three of the most popular are Bills being proposed by the Coalition. The least popular Bills were also from the Coalition. Scroll down this page on The Sun website for more.
There are ideas in today's Queen's Speech that do win a lot of support from the public. Action against drug driving is supported by 81% of voters, for example. By 74% to 13% voters agree that the Coalition's Bill to give shareholders more power to control executive pay should be included in the Queen's Speech. By 59% to 25% there's also big support for the Coalition's new plan for a regulator that will stop supermarkets 'ripping-off' small firms. The last two measures prove that the public mood remains hostile to 'big business'.
The top measures from the Alternative Queen's Speech were:
- Deporting foreigners from UK prisons so they serve their sentences abroad (84% think such action should be included in the Queen's Speech versus 9% who do not);
- Reducing fuel duty (79% over 11%);
- Making foreign users of the NHS pay for treatment (78% over 11%);
- Longer sentences for serious offenders (67% over 17%);
- English votes for English laws (56% over 27%);
- Referendum Bill on UK's relationship with the EU (55% over 30%);
- Laws to ensure 50% of people have to vote in strike ballots (53% over 30%).
You could argue – correctly – that some of these Alternative measures do not require legislation but what it is very difficult to argue is that measures proposed by the mainstream of the Conservative Party – on crime in particular – are unpopular. They are very popular and more popular than the recipe offered by the Coalition. Our partnership with the Liberal Democrats means that while the Government is impressively united around its central mission of deficit reduction it doesn't have the freedom to sugar the austerity medicine with action on, for example, crime, Europe and immigration that would have meant centre right voters and newspapers had much more reason to believe that the Coalition was worthwhile.
In an interview that the Prime Minister has given to today's Daily Mail we have the strongest indication yet that the Prime Minister understands this. He complains that there are a ‘growing list of things that I want to do but can’t’ and all because Nick Clegg won't let him. He mentions reform of workplace laws, human rights legislation and support for marriage. He promises that these things "will form the basis of the Conservative manifesto that I will campaign for right up and down the country". "Be in no doubt," he continues, "I want a Tory-only government."