By Paul Goodman
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The morning in London is cool and overcast, and unsuitable for a press conference in Downing Street's rose garden. The weather suits the cooling of Conservative-Liberal Democrat relations that's taken place since David Cameron and Nick Clegg made their joint appearance in the sunshine two years ago.
So does the new venue for their joint appearance. They are off to a factory in Essex – Ed Miliband is also visiting the county today, so it's getting a surfeit of senior politicians – to further their pre-Queen's Speech relaunch. It's a gritty setting in which to talk about the economic growth that Britain needs. The Guardian reports that Mr Cameron will say that salvaging the economy:
"…was and remains our guiding task, and in these perilous times it's more important than ever for Britain that we stick to it," he will say. "There can be no going back on our carefully judged strategy for restoring the public finances"
– and that Mr Clegg will say –
"Ducking the tough choices would only prolong the pain, condemning the next generation to decades of higher interest rates, poorer public services and fewer jobs…'We must never forget that tackling the deficit is a means to an end and the end we all seek is growth,' ."
To this end, the paper reports that the Queen's speech will promise less policing of regulations; changes to make it easier to hire and fire workers; a Green Investment Bank to help fund schemes to cut and clean up energy use and an ombudsman for the grocery sector intended to crackdown on claims the biggest supermarkets are abusing their power over small suppliers, which will include the ultimate sanction of imposing fines on the worst offenders.
Two bills to be introduced by Vince Cable – one of them an enterprise bill – will apparently allow local councils to opt out of or relax regulations, and introduce less strict inspection regimes; stronger "sunset clauses" to kill off regulations which are not delivering the intended improvements. It will reportedly also make it easier for companies to get rid of underperforming staff or downsize in tough times, and to encourage more employees to settle complaints through arbitration rather than formal tribunals.
All this sounds very welcome, but the devil will be in the detail. The Government's record suggests that change on the scale required is unlikely, given Liberal Democrat resistance to the Beecroft Report, unless the gathering crisis on the Eurozone threatens complete economic collapse. If implemented, these changes are very much along the lines of those proposed in ConservativeHome's Alternative Queen's Speech, which the Guardian refers to in its report and which continues throughout the day on this site.