David Blackburn

Hoist by his own petard

Hoist by his own petard
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The Queen’s Speech contained some worthwhile bills. Parents will face orders when a child breaches antisocial behaviour rules, and the Flood and Water Maintainence Bill, whilst unlikely to rival the 1911 Parliament Act in the annals of Westminster, is welcome, responsible legislation. I can even see that if you’re that way inclined, which I’m not, Harman’s Equality Bill has something to commend it.

The remainder of the programme is a political landmine, presenting benevolences that mask incendiary conceits. Clever politics theoretically, but in the rush to prime the fuses, and with little thought for these bills’ practical application, this incomparable government has blown itself up.

The Times reports that Labour peers are savaging the free home care measure, branding it ‘irresponsible, unaffordable and based on a pernicious myth’. Here is the key section:

‘Lord Lipsey, a former member of the Royal Commission on Long-Term Care, also accused the Government of peddling a “pernicious myth” that people are better cared for in their own homes than in a nursing home.

The measure, aimed at 400,000 of the neediest people, amounted to a “demolition job on the national budget”, he said, as the Government would be forced to cover unnecessary claims made by the better-off. He said that it threatened to undo current work on building a system to help the elderly and those most in need of care.

“I’m not looking forward to the night of the next general election but, if the result goes as I expect, one of the consolations will be that one of the most irresponsible acts to be put forward by a prime minister in the recent history of this country will be swept away with his government,” he added.’

Lord Lipsey is correct. This bill, the pinnacle of Brown’s strategy, is so muddled that it will crawl through both Houses. Added to this setback is Cameron’s encirclement of Brown over expenses, and the government is reversing faster than the Italians at Tobruk in an attempt to suggest it will legislate if necessary. This Queen’s Speech proves the inherent dangers in concocting cynical policy on the hoof. Despite Peter Mandelson’s best efforts, Brown is retreating, not Cameron; Labour’s last chance has gone.