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Scrap the Queen’s Speech and introduce real radical reform

November 18, 2009

Our Labour MP is big buddies with Harriet Harman.

He was part of the winning campaign team when Harman made her bid for the Deputy Leadership of the Labour Party.

And after two years of being in place as the Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for Hastings & Rye, I can report that I no longer need to email Michael to see if he is on message about a given issue…

I am confident that he will be.

I predict that he is as contemptuous of Nick Clegg’s intervention on today’s Queen’s Speech as his Friend in High Places was on Monday.

This is because Labour hates it when the Lib Dems are right.

As someone whose daily work is in mental health care, I will hazard a guess that the feelings that many in the Labour Party hold for the Lib Dems are often rooted in guilt and self-esteem issues.

The fact is that New Labour has been a fundamental disappointment to millions of people across the country; and that the Lib Dems have, time after time, adopted policy positions that most Labour members, and Labour voters, would rather that their own party adopted, and led on.

It’s interesting to see that the content of the Queen’s Speech has, in fact, contained policy that the Lib Dems have led on for some time now.

It is highly ironic that Harriet Harman criticises the Lib Dem Leader thus –

“Nick Clegg is wrong to say it’s ‘a waste of everyone’s time’ to help carers, make the banks more responsible, and secure Britain’s economic growth and jobs” –

because it was the Lib Dems, back when Paul Burstow MP was the Party’s champion for older people, that were arguing tooth and nail for the implementation of the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Long Term Care.

And it has been Vince Cable MP who has been arguing since 2003 that the Government has been irresponsible in its handling of the housing bubble and the economy as a whole.

It has been Vince, only this week, who has argued for a 10% tax on bank profits, and greater corporate responsibility from the sector.

And it has been the Lib Dems who have outlined the ‘Green Road out of Recession’ plan to provide a national job creation scheme which is predicated on environmental sustainability.

But this is not the point.

The point, as Clegg wrote in The Independent, is that,

“The Queen’s speech will be dressed up as the way to ‘build Britain’s future’ when it will be little more than a rehearsal of the next Labour Party manifesto, an attempt to road-test policy gimmicks that might save this government’s skin. It is a waste of everyone’s time, and should be cancelled in favour of an emergency programme of reform”.

Reprised in The Guardian: ‘Clegg set out an “action plan to save Britain’s democracy”, which he believes can be completed before the election.

The plan includes measures to reduce the power of the whips, introduce fixed-term parliaments, reform party funding, permit the sacking of misbehaving MPs, impose a code of conduct and a register of interests for election candidates, and establish a fully elected House of Lords.

Clegg also called for a committee on electoral reform composed of 100 randomly chosen citizens, which would be given a year to choose a fairer voting system for Westminster elections to put to voters in a referendum.

“These changes would be a tall order, but with political will they could finally transform our threadbare democratic institutions for good,” said Clegg.

“Instead of being just a sorry footnote to a shameful year at Westminster, these months would become a moment of great change in British political history.

“This rump parliament, brought to its knees by scandal, has one final chance left to redeem itself. It must now provide a golden legacy to the next parliament so that we can all be proud of our democracy once again.”‘

Hear hear.

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