David Blackburn

Queen’s Speech Live Blog

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Stay tuned for live coverage from 14:30.

Here we go.

14:40: Rather a self-deprecating and witty loyal address by self-confessed "dinosaur still living", Frank Dobson. He gives a wonderful potted political history of his constituency, Holborn and St. Pancras, with particular reference to John Bellingham, who assassinated Prime Minister Spencer Perceval, whose descendant is a Tory MP. Dobson ends by celebrating the House of Commons and parliamentary democracy, though urging its urgent reform and that MPs listen to constituents; and he defends multi-cultural society, pointing towards his own constituency's solidarity in the face of the 7/7 outrage.

15:00: David Cameron is on his feet, prasing the proposer and seconder of the loyal address. Cameron then talks about Afghanistan, and reiterates his support for continued military commitment and intensifying the reconstruction of Afghan infrastructue, a tougher approach to President Karzai and an effort to encourage India, China and Russia.

15:10: Cameron praises some of the speech, specifically those parts that the Tories introduced, such as the high speed rail link.

But it wasn't a real Queen's Speech. What of those proposals that were excluded, on immigration and the NHS? Good question - more evidence that continuity, especially on immigration is government policy.

What of legislation to implement the Kelly report. Cameron offers his unconditional support in both houses, he asks Brown to make this announcement. "He tells us he's serious about reform, but when it comes to the crunch - nothing". Out of money and courage is Cameron's line and it's a strong one; it's Kelly's job and the committee's to implement, but political direction would be welcome to drive the process.

15:17: Cameron says that legislation will not cut the budget deficit - cuts will cut the budget deficit. It's the Redwood argument and it is extraordinary that the government thinks it has to legislate its way out of trouble. It is the problem with playing politics simply to try and embarass the Conservatives. Cameron doing what he does best, making witting, cutting and pointed speeches with an eye on policy. Opposition behaving like a government is his insinuation - well not quite but it's not far off.

15:19: Government is disingenuous - pledging spending when it was planning cuts.

15:21: Cameron now trying to isolate Brown through ridicule - what's happened to the GOATS? Never has so much ermine been wasted, jests Cameron.

15:22: Now it's Brown's supposed strongest suit - economic management. Cameron attacks the strenghtening of the tripartite regulation system included in the financial regulation bill, all under the chairmanship of the Chancellor. Brown equals the continuity of failure when the country needs change.

15:25: These policies have contributed to deepening poverty - he point to the care system, which will require a damaging shake-up of benefits for the elderly. A real Queen's Speech would have addressed these problems. For that, Cameron argues, Brown must call an election.

In short, that was a very impressive rhetorical effort that also managed to expose Labour's electioneering, but also its deeper malaise and ideological bankruptcy. That said, it was mainly rhetorical knockabout. Brown, never the best at presentation and open debate (think TV election debate here) has got his work cut out to conduct an adequate rhetorical response.

15:32: Brown is up - he reckons he get something out of Copenhagen, not so sure after Obama's statements myself.

To be fair to Brown, he's giving as good as he gets of the Punch and Judy front, ridiculing Cameron's Husskie photo-op in the arctic. These two men really dislike each other, this could be very entertaining, though not terribly deep, stuff.

15:38: Here it comes - "We are the only party who can offer lasting stability", enter tractor stats stage left.

15:39: Simon Hughes asks why there was nothing about housing in the speech. Very good point, especially as Peter Hain pledged to address the issue on Straight Talk recently. The BNP will be licking their lips - no immigartion, no housing, no commitment, no engagement. Back to square one.

15:40: John Redwood, incomparable on matters on macroeconomic wants to know how the deficit will be halved in 4 years. Brown responds with the 50% tac rise. Now, I'm not a mathematician, but I believe the deficit currently stands at £175bn. The government's highly dubious predictions (and we're still waiting for the redacted FOI request to see the working for this estimate) are £1.7bn. I don't think Gordon's a mathematician either.

15:45: One of the major artificial dividing lines is to attempt to paint the Tories as isolationists whose xenophobia and hatred of unilateral global action will endanger recovery. It's a weak argument, as the Tories have not broken ranks over Europe and are not isolationists, but Brown urges all to follow his lead. On the vote-grabbing Tobin tax I hope the House remains as isolationist as the Obama administration.

15:50: Here are the unemployment and education guarantees. There will be a January guarantee for all 16 and 17 year olf NEETS to find a place in education and training. Good, but we know that cuts are being planned in precisely this area - they will affect more than 300,000 people. Besides, training will only keep the young off unemployment registers.

15:54: Brown challenges Cameron's sincererity as a radical and a progressive. Care, public sector wages, child benefits. He points to the IHT aspirations as well, a move that will benefit those whom most of the Tories are on first name terms. Good joke by Brown and it's all getting rather bitter. IHT is a problem for the Tories, but not an insurmountable one. House prices in Southern England make this a sensible and fair option - it's the same logic that explains why Vince Cable Mansions tax is unfair.

16:00 Brown - our policies support the many, not the few.

As we've maintained - the government is disingenuous on cuts and spending and its programme is entirely self-serving and so much remains unsaid, notably on wealth and job creation creation. That said, Brown gave a good account of himself rhetorically, which is what this debate is primarily about. Overall though, Cameron edges it on style and substance.

16:05: Clegg: what is this Queen's Speech about? It was fantasy. The legislation today is about displacement, not help. More of the Redwood argument - what is the point of target for reducing the deficit? Why not just act? Pointed stuff from Clegg.

Passing laws does not limit crime - more police on the street do. It is time to act. Brown has raised the hopes of some of the most needful people in this society, but he cannot deliver on care, cluster bombs or any of his other pledges. It's Cameron's "this isn't a real Queen's Speech" argument.

And now Clegg moves on to talk about Parliamentary Reform. Clegg wants candidates to declare financial interests and that constituents have a power of recall. Fixed terms parliaments and limiting election funds. Clegg argues that the opportunity has now passed. Good performance from Clegg, gave some serious discussion to an otherwise largely Punch and Judy event.