Political

Queen’s Speech: the good and the worrying for the Lib Dems

From a Liberal Democrat perspective:

  • Sensible that economic growth put first but good that constitutional reform in the three priorities with which the Queen started the speech: “Economic growth, justice and constitutional reform”.
  • Banking reform going ahead – major Liberal Democrat demand now will become law.
  • Ditto for Green Investment Bank (which has actually started operation) and changes to rules over directors’ pay.
  • Good that Steve Webb’s work on reforming pensions to make them simpler and fairer has got a slot in the legislative agenda. (Despite their very different places on the political spectrum, he and Iain Duncan Smith have an effective working relationship on this area.)
  • Lords reform in the speech, and using the same language (“… will be brought forward…”) as for other proposals in the speech; no lessening of language on that compared to other items.
  • Continuing progress on removing sexism from rules of Royal Succession is victory for Lynne Featherstone who took up the issue several years ago (along with Evan Harris and others), running in to a wall of disinterest – it can’t be done, it won’t be done – even amongst some Liberal Democrat colleagues, at least until she got a big splash story in the Sunday Times on it. (Seeย Where Lynne Featherstone leads, David Cameron follows โ€“ once again.)
  • Defamation law reform dear to many liberal hearts and good to see it going ahead despite some major debates over what it should say.
  • Commitment to spending 0.7% on foreign aid even though no legislation – as what really matters is what aid is given, losing the legislation (for now) is no great loss if budget is maintained.
  • Secret courts legislation looks likely to be one of the main Lib Dem sore points.
  • Other main sore point is likely to be over online snooping, though Clegg won concession that there will “scrutinyย of draft clauses”.
  • Banana skins and possibilities to lurch to the right aplenty around deregulation proposals; another one to watch with care although some changes would be very much in line with Lib Dem policy.

The full text of the Queen’s Speech is here.

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