Today’s Queen’s Speech is an event of great pomp and circumstance, even if this year the Queen’s Speech will not in fact feature the Queen. For a government riding high, it is an opportunity to push forward some key ambitions for the coming year. For this government, mind, it’s more of a chance to set out in some form quite what it actually stands for.
Alas the early briefing and speculation suggests that we will end today none the wiser as to quite what Johnsonism is, other than the acquisition and maintenance of power. Amid worthy projects to unleash sunlight on ill-gotten Russian gains and reform our tired energy markets there is so far at least very little of substance.
That this government appears confused about its purpose is not a new criticism but as we enter a probable recession and a definite cost-of-living squeeze, it is worth asking again. The government is not short of suggestions of what to do to make life easier for Brits this summer and going into the winter, but invariably those suggestions involve either a temporary handout or a transfer of wealth from productive, investing companies towards other less productive parts of the economy. Neither are overly appealing.
A historic Conservative government would look at their current quandary and put their faith in what might be described as traditional Tory economics. A temporary tax cut on income would stave off wage hike demands, for instance, dampening a wage spiral that would add to already punchy inflation pressures. Such a move would have the added benefit of increasing battered consumer confidence.
There is no sign of such old-school innovation from this government so far. A combination of dithering, complicated rebate schemes and gaffes have not so far inspired much confidence. Amid Keir Starmer’s misadventures, the Tories must remember it’s the economy that decides whether they keep power or otherwise.