Yes, we’ve all read it before in the newspaper, but today the Queen re-opened Parliament with a speech which sounded rather different to what we’ve become used to, no huge focus on terrorism and no awful news-speak about helping families (with yet more benefits that keep the poor dependant). Instead we got something altogether different: the word de jour is freedom: Scrapping of draconian ID cards and ID databases, Measures to help bolster civil liberties, Powers to set up new schools and open more academies (which are in effect just grant maintained?), Fixed-term Parliaments are now properly on the agenda and a couple of referendums, first on the voting system (a/v) which seems to be linked to a promise of reform for the new rotten boroughs so we equal out the size of constituencies, and if anything happens in Europe now we’ve got a guarantee of referendum on future EU treaties or major changes of power-balance from the UK to the EU (and one would presume vice versa?).
In other news there’s going to be changes to financial regulation but no detail, changes to the police with elected police officials (good news) as well as restoring the pensions link to earnings, and the rather vague promise of more power for the Scottish Parliament: whether the coalition is feeling brave enough to properly tackle the West Lothian question has yet to be seen.
It was nice to see a speech that for the first time in a long time didn’t feel like it’d make us worse of democratically: I still think with the cuts and the world-economic problems coming up, but I do feel like the power of the people has been dramatically realigned. Now the coalition has to stick together to get these things through.