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The Tories have taken their eye off the ball

May 20, 2016 12:57 PM
Originally published by Scottish Liberal Democrats

This extremely bare Queen's Speech is all about managing the divisions within the Conservative Party and very little to do with meeting the challenges facing our country.

Twelve months after a winning a general election where they promised to focus on the economy and public finances, David Cameron's government is already running out of steam. This Queen's speech ignored the big challenges we face on education, housing, investment, skills, and the environment.

Of the 30 announcements made in the Queen's speech, 28 have been made before.

Of course there are some things that we can welcome. For example, If the government is serious about tackling the crisis in our prisons and reducing offending then they will get nothing but support from the Liberal Democrats.

Likewise, the promised measures for more protection for mobile and broadband consumers (which I called for in my own Private Member's Bill in February) are sensible.

I know many, especially in rural Scotland, will be following these developments closely and with some healthy scepticism. Last week they told us that their universal service obligation for broadband was not actually going to be universal so we need to be suspicious about any platitudes this week.

Overall, this Queen's speech is a dogs breakfast of reheated policies and poorly thought out reforms that will not help create jobs, protect our civil liberties or keep our country safe.

The authoritarian streak in Conservatives is never far from the surface and it is there for all to see in this Queen's Speech. They are pushing on with the Snoopers' Charter and continue to insist that they will abolish the Human Rights Act, regardless of all the problems and dangers that they acknowledge. There may only be eight Liberal Democrat MPs in Parliament these days but we have led the charge in opposing these measures and we shall continue to do so.

If you are wondering why we have seen such a lack of ambition from the Tories you need look no further than the EU referendum.

In Scotland we saw how a referendum can take the minds of government ministers off their day jobs.

This EU referendum is no different. Michael Gove is taking pot-shots at George Osborne and David Cameron. The Prime Minister has fallen out with Iain Duncan Smith and Priti Patel. And Boris is telling everyone who will listen that the EU wants to emulate Hitler. It is no surprise that things have slipped.

This week we saw unemployment in Scotland increase again and more people are out of work north of the border than in other parts of the country. But there was nothing new in the Queen's speech that will give comfort to people in the North East or elsewhere who are worried about their jobs.

The Tories have taken their eye off the ball. It is the children in our schools; the patients in our hospitals and the men and women struggling to keep their businesses afloat who will pay the price for their failure.