Queen’s Speech Shows Brown is New Labour
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II made the traditional Queen’s Speech to Parliament yesterday, in which she laid out what Prime Minister Gordon Brown wants to achieve in the coming session. Acting Leader of the Liberal Democrats Vince Cable said the proposals have “no vision,” and he added, “Across wide swathes of policy his approach is indistinguishable from the Tories.” Well, mate, that’s New Labour for ye’, innit?
In fairness to the PM, there are some good ideas in his 28 bill package. The Local Transport Bill would give local authorities to “greater freedom and choice” in setting transportation policy – it annoys folks in the north or west having someone from Potter’s Bar decide their bus schedules. The Housing and Regeneration Bill looks like a way forward in providing affordable housing (but the devil is in the as-yet undisclosed details). The Education and Skills Bill would raise the school-leaving age to 18 from 16, allowing career training to count as schooling (and an Apprenticeship Bill will enhance this option). The Climate Change Bill seeks to reduce UK carbon dioxide emissions by at least 60% by 2050 and between 26% and 32% by 2020, using the 1990s levels as the baseline.
However, there’s some outright nonsense in it too. In particular, there is the Sale of Student Loans Bill. Here, High Toryism and Brownian Labour are indistinguishable. Having taken away education grants from most students and replaced them with loans, the government now wants to sell the loans off to investors. This is how the subprime mortgage mess in America got started. While the £6 billion it would raise might be welcome, one can’t help but wonder what the cost of the eventual bailout will be.
The Energy Bill, which focuses largely on renewable energy sources and on cutting carbon emissions, would allow a new generation of nuclear power plants in Britain. Moreover, as the BBC reports, “It would be for the private sector to initiate, fund, construct and operate new nuclear plants and cover costs of decommissioning and waste management.” One cannot think of a single private sector entity that could cover the costs of a Chernobyl in the UK. If nuclear power is to be expanded in the UK (and that argument still has to happen), the British government needs control, both for economic and national security issues. But of course, the New Labour and Tory God called “the market” takes the job instead.
In all of this, Mr. Brown has made one rather dangerous mistake. He has not applied many of his proposals to Scotland (which enjoys both a devolved assembly and a separate legal code). This is going to give the Scottish Nationalists a strong case for arguing that a divorce in the UK is already taking place. For example, the Education Bill applies only to England and Wales. If Scottish kids of 17 have fewer options, one can see the SNP making an issue out of it at every opportunity. And the key is that without Labour MPs from Scotland, Mr. Brown’s party has no majority. Indeed, Mr. Brown would have no seat himself.
© Copyright 2007 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Fedora Linux.